As you may remember, 100% of the proceeds from the A Muse 2010 Calendar project will benefit Water 1st. Water 1st provides solutions to the global water and sanitation crisis. Water 1st projects to date have benefited 220 communities and 35,000 people. In 2010, they hope to fund an additional 75 projects benefiting 15,000 people!
We like this organization so much that we sponsored one of our employees, Amanda, to go to Ethiopia in January with Water 1st. There she visited communities with in-progress or completed water projects. She also participated in a work project to help with the construction of a new water system. Amanda was able to have a first-hand look at how the funds raised from our Calendar are used!
Here is a note from Amanda about her trip:
"My trip to Ethiopia was with 21 other travelers, mostly from Seattle with an organization called Water1st whose goal is to implement water systems in some of the poorest regions. I traveled to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital and stayed there for 4 days. While we were there we visited a couple of museums and experienced the different cuisines. We also visited the Merkato, the largest outdoor market in Africa. The other 3 days were spent in Woliso also known as Ghion - a town in central Ethiopia. This is where we spent the days on the field and talked with villagers and also our local partner organization based in Ethiopia, Water Action. Water Action has been working to help Ethiopians solve their water and sanitation problems since 1995. In that time, they have helped 1 million people gain access to safe sustainable water supplies. It was amazing talking to both groups of people and hearing about how the new clean water has changed their lives for the better. The community of Ilamu Muja told us that school enrollment has DOUBLED for girls since their water and sanitation project was completed 2 years ago! While in Woliso we also partnered up with some of the women there and helped them carry water to their homes. The water jugs weighed about 45 lbs and were wrapped onto our backs! They would carry water for hours each day and were expected to help their husbands in the fields as soon as they were finished. Many of us barely had enough strength to carry the water for 10 minutes! The people in Ethiopia truly amaze me. They have huge hearts and are constantly smiling. This trip has really changed my life and I want to thank Water1st and A Muse for this amazing opportunity. I also want to thank all of you who have donated!"
Here are some of Amanda's photos from her trip:
"This is one of the gravity water systems in the process of being built. They expect it to be finished in January 2011. Here we helped transport water and sand to make the concrete-like mixture. The buckets were heavy!"
"This is at the Merkato. There were tons of spices, coffee beans, and other things for sale. We bought incense at this particular spot that smelled amazing!"
"This is the landscape of Woliso. Most of the houses had thatched roofs and the walls were made out of mud and what looked like hay. Some of the modern houses had tin roofs."
"We had many discussions with different communities in Woliso and these were some of the children at one of them. I was surprised by how many young people came to these meetings and I was so happy to know that we were making an impact in their lives."
"Here I am in Ethiopia's countryside with a couple of the ladies from Water1st, three of the men from the community, and our driver. He was a very nice guy and I kept asking him if I could drive when we were off-roading. He would respond with a laugh."
Please visit this post on our blog to learn more about our 2010 Calendar project benefitting Water 1st. You can also see our fun calendar ideas by clicking on the "Calendar" category on the right sidebar.