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Half a world away in a tiny village in rural Ethiopia, Desta wakes before the sun rises. Her first thought of the day is, “Where will I find water?” This is the same thought that she has every day. She also worries, “Will it make me sick? Will it make my kids sick? Will it kill us?” As she walks for hours to the water source, she worries about what predators she might face. When she arrives, there’s already a long line of jerry cans and she must wait her turn. She waits to get to the same water source that villagers use for bathing and let the livestock wade in. Finally, it’s her turn. She puts the 40-pound jug on her back to take the long journey back home. Her whole body aches.
Once home, she must decide how she will use that five gallons of water today for her family of six. Her options are: drinking, bathing, cooking or washing. Fortunately, Desta has a young daughter to help her. Instead of going to school with her brothers, Desta’s 9-year-old daughter is sent back to get more water. There’s anxiety in the eyes of both Desta and her daughter; risks of abduction and rape are a part of her reality. Her daughter takes the same path.
This is a story that Susanne Wilson, Executive Director of Water to Thrive, shared at our Genesys Women in Technology breakfast earlier this year. Tragically, this is a hard truth. The world water crisis is real — and, in any moment, half of the world’s hospital beds are filled with people suffering from water-borne illnesses.
With International Women’s Day, and the theme of #EachforEqual, I can’t help but think of Desta and the millions of others who face the same daily reality. While we celebrate women’s achievements, I can’t help but think about how far we still have to go for equality.
At Genesys, our Women in Technology community has a singular mission: To empower women and inspire growth. We lead and engage in programs to foster career growth and peer-to-peer networking. And, as we heard Susanne’s story, we saw the obvious connection to our mission. The hard task of collecting water each day in developing countries is still a woman’s responsibility. They walk for hours each day to get unsafe water. But having a well in the village means there’s hope for the future. Instead of collecting water, girls can go to school. Women can work. They can protect their health and their families’ health. We decided that one way we can empower women and inspire growth is to be a part of this cultural change.
Partnering with Water to Thrive, we started this mission in October 2019 with a water walk to build wells in rural Africa. We carried jerry cans to an unclean water source and walked back to our office with the 40 pounds of water in our arms. We literally felt that the weight of this issue was heavier than we had imagined. As Susanne describes in her blog about our first well built, “Change is slow, but with each well, numerous lives are transformed.”
Get involved for International Women’s Day. Learn more about why Genesys Women in Technology is partnering with Water to Thrive to bring clean, safe water to communities in rural Africa. As Mother Theresa so famously said, “You cannot change the world, but you can change someone’s world.” Join us in the cause.
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