Earlier this month, internationally acclaimed harpist Catrin Finch travelled to Ethiopia as a WaterAid ambassador to meet communities who have benefitted from our life-saving work.

Ethiopia is a country still in desperate need – with almost half its population lacking safe water and over three quarters, more than 70 million people, having no access to toilets.

Visiting communities across rural and urban areas, both before and after WaterAid programmes have taken place, the Welsh musician and former Royal Harpist to HRH The Prince of Wales saw for herself how clean water, toilets and hygiene change lives.

Giving girls back their education

One such community was Hidasie School. Located in a slum in Addis Ababa, more than 1,700 students have to share a single squalid toilet block with no running water. The lack of a safe, private place for children to go to the toilet means that many adolescent girls stay away from school during their period – missing out on weeks of their education each year.

WaterAid is currently working with local partners to build more latrines and install running water in Hidasie School so that children are able to focus on their education and work towards a brighter future.

Facilities that can change lives

In another school in Addis Ababa, Catrin saw the incredible changes that these facilities have on pupils' lives.

In Biruhtesfa Primary School, Catrin met a 27 year old man called Eneyew Yisma. As a child, Eneyew had not attended school because his parents believed his disability made him incapable of learning.

But 12 years ago, Eneyew met a project worker from a disability charity who encouraged him to start attending school. WaterAid had worked with local partners to ensure the school had accessible toilets for wheelchair users – so he was finally able to attend school and get an education.

Without the accessible toilet facilities, something we take for granted in the UK, this wouldn’t have been possible. After he completes Grade 8, Eneyew is planning to study mobile phone maintenance so that he is able to support himself in the future.

Harpist Catrin Finch meets a student at a secondary school where new toilet blocks are being constructed in Addis, Ethiopia.
Catrin talks with Eneyew at Biruhtesfa school in Ethiopia.

Catrin returned from her Ethiopia experience enthused about our life-changing work and ready to spread the word about why everyone, everywhere can and must have clean water and toilets by 2030.

"I became a WaterAid ambassador after learning that there are over 748 million people living without access to safe, clean water – a human tragedy that results in the needless deaths of more than 1,400 children every single day," she says.

"Meeting people whose lives have been changed by safe water and toilets was moving and inspiring. I hope to help raise money and encourage people to support WaterAid's mission – to bring clean water to everyone, everywhere by 2030."