Galo Arigma celebrates learning how to read and write
Galo Arigma’s life and the lives of her friends in the community of Stimba have improved dramatically this year.
Galo and 25 of her friends who attended a GTLI school in the BeneTsemay region of Ethiopia have learned to read, write, and do basic arithmetic. They are celebrating this achievement and are beginning to teach their children. Can you see the pride in her face, and in the faces of her friends behind her? She wrote the sign she is wearing. It says, “I have learned about personal hygiene and sanitation, and I now wash my hands before eating.”
So simple. And so profound.
Because of their participation in a GTLI project, Galo’s community now has clean water and practices basic sanitation and hygiene. And their health is improving. They learned about family planning and are embracing the idea that fewer children means healthier mothers and children, strengthening their community.
This is just the beginning of Galo’s community learning how to help themselves.
Bonnie Wolff showcasing GTLI’s work in support of women and children in the South Omo Zone, Ethiopia
We are so lucky to have friends who support the work that we do. Bonnie Wolff is one of these friends. She donates her time and talents to encourage others to learn about GTLI.
Bonnie makes beautiful wool mittens and seeks out craft fairs where she displays her work. She also spreads the story of GTLI: how our efforts to care for orphaned and abandoned children and our projects to improve the lives of women depend on the donations of individuals who care.
Lori Pappas, GTLI Founder and Executive Director, loves Bonnie’s handcrafted mittens. Lori lives in Ethiopia now, so the few days during the year that she visits Minnesota, she is certain to have a pair handy. She gets by Minnesota weather with a little help from her friends!
Lori Pappas loves Bonnie Wolff’s handcrafted mittens
Worku in a GTLI Integrated Functional Vocational Literacy class
Worku learning to write her name
Where we work in Ethiopia, in the South Omo Zone, tribal traditions do not value education, and education for women, especially, is frowned upon.
But how do you vote, how do you access government health services, and how do you negotiate fair prices at market if you can’t read, write, or count?
When communities ask us to work with them, we offer integrated literacy and livelihood classes for men and women. This is life changing for the women as they acquire the skills, know-how, and confidence to negotiate with men and engage in a small business.
Their new ability to self-advocate then leads to better social standing: the women are recognized for their new knowledge and skills, and they participate more in community decision-making and governance.
What’s in a name? A whole new world of opportunity!
Before: The Ola community used this water access for their drinking water
These before and after pictures tell a success story of two communities, Ola and Shalla, in the BenaTsemay region of the South Omo Zone, Ethiopia.
A natural spring in Ola, pictured here, supplied the community with water. But people and livestock had to climb into this traditional water source, polluting the water and contributing to extremely high rates of diarrhea and other water-borne disease.
Ola sits at the top of a mountain. At the bottom of that mountain is the community of Shalla, whose only access to water was a 25 kilometers walk away. Watering their livestock took days: one day walking to the well, one day watering, a third day walking home, and a fourth day resting before starting the process again.
The government had previously built a pipeline and reservoir to divert water from the Ola spring at the top of the mountain down to the lower elevation Shalla community. But as can happen when there is a lack of communication between communities sharing a resource, the pipeline became damaged and no one had the resources or know-how to fix it.
After: Both Ola and Shalla communities now have improved water points providing plenty of clean water
The government asked GTLI to help. We worked with both communities, employing our Community-Based Learning in Action process (CBLA) and our technical expertise. We determined we could refurbish the Ola spring, providing a clean access point for people and a separate access point for livestock. We repaired the pipeline to the Shalla community and constructed two access points for both people and livestock. The community Water Sanitation Committees were trained in preventative maintenance of the pipe line, spring, reservoir, and water points to ensure the communities can handle any future problems.
Now the communities at the top of the mountain and the bottom have access to clean water. And they can water their livestock without contaminating the people’s water supply. We expected the Shalla water points would help the 500 people in that community. But it has turned out that more than 2,000 people from neighboring communities now use the water points. The community is managing the water points and keeping the water clean, making this a success story for the entire area.
Lori Pappas participated in the 143rdAPHA Annual Meeting October 31st through November 2nd, 2015 in Chicago. Lori presented on a panel looking at the importance of community involvement for health outcomes.
Lori shared GTLI’s experience working with the Dasenech and BenaTsemay women in Southwest Ethiopia. She highlighted the importance of educating and empowering women in order to elevate their status within their communities. The goal of GTLI’s holistic integrated approach was to blend traditional wisdom with modern thinking, transforming the cultural belief that large families equate to wealth into healthy families equate wealth.
At the end of September, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and a set of bold new Sustainable Development Goals, which Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hailed as a transformative vision for a better world. Click on the graphic above to read more about the goals that drive our work at GTLI.
New chicken farmer in Gurdo shares eggs with neighbor
One of the ways we help communities is by introducing new and healthy foods into their diets. Chickens and eggs are not a traditional food for the Hamar people in Ethiopia, but they are a great source of protein.
This spring in the Hamar community of Gurdo, 12 women and 11 men together completed our functional literacy course where, in addition to learning to read and write, they learned how to raise chickens and prepare nutritious meals for their families using eggs and chickens. When they completed their schooling, they all received chickens and the supplies they needed to begin tending their own flocks.
We’re already seeing numerous benefits. The Hamar culture is communal and collaborative, so when families have a surplus of eggs or chickens, they pay it forward naturally, sharing their new resources to better the entire community. By this summer, 11 of the Gurdo families we are working with shared their surplus eggs and chickens with 21 additional families, a dramatic return on a modest investment! The fact that the Hamar people are predisposed to share with the rest of their community means that we when we introduce a new food and new income source to a small group of people, it does not take long for the larger community to catch on. They help each other improve their food security and create new income generating opportunities.
Another benefit is the involvement of women in the classrooms and sharing their new skills with their community. In a traditionally gender segregated culture, providing a path for men and women to work together is the key to unlocking the voice of the women. It provides a safe environment where men and women begin to discover the value of joint decision-making and problem solving.
Her paper, titled Integration + Innovation Transformed Adverse Gender and Cultural Norms, highlights the GTLI family planning and reproductive health initiative in the BenaTsemay and Dasenech communities. This innovative approach transformed the cultural belief that large families mean wealth into healthy families mean wealth, by leveraging their traditional desire to have enough children to work. Read more here.
Hosted by the Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC) in collaboration with the East African Community (EAC) Secretariat, EAC Partner States, National PHE Networks, PHE Ethiopia Consortium and PHE Madagascar Network, the conference is intended to increase the awareness of and support for integrated solutions to population and environmental challenges in Africa.
The women of the Wonga Bayno and Minogelti communities in the Hamar region of the South Omo Zone, Ethiopia have inspired us from the day we first met them. They work long hours to provide water and food for their families, and they want to do so much more.
And that, in a nutshell, is the problem. When all of a woman’s time and energy is spent hauling water by foot and grinding grain by hand, that is all she is valued for. Under those conditions how can she help her community climb out the endless reliance on emergency water and food aid?
In July more than 80 women registered for our adult Integrated Functional Vocational Literacy (IFVL) classes in Wonga Bayno and Minogelti. And this tremendous response from the women even though they were still walking long distances for water while waiting for their local wells to be repaired.
With our Economic Empowerment of Women projects we are helping to create and support women cooperatives that operate grinding mills and trading centers, giving all of the women in those communities more productive time.
Practicing using the scale at the trading center
The women in our IFVL classes are learning that they can solve problems. They are learning tangible skills to earn money and raise food, and they are gaining the confidence to advocate for themselves, their families, and their communities.
By working together these women are beginning to transform their communities.
In November of 2014 Dasenech and Nyangatom communities, where more than 60,000 people live, were devastated by back-to-back floods of the Omo River that damaged and destroyed their water points. With the support of our partner the International Rescue Committee (IRC), we responded to this crisis with an emergency clean water project. [Read more about this project here.]
As this project nears completion we are happy to report that we have refurbished 16 wells, repaired two pipelines that supply fresh water, and repaired two roof catchments used for harvesting rainwater.
But our work involves more than providing emergency access to water. In this project, as in all of our projects, we built sustainability into the implementation. The 24,296 people in the communities served by this project are now empowered to self-monitor and self-manage their now functioning water points, keeping them clean and functioning into the future and ensuring sustainability. This is vital in an area where working wells are otherwise likely to breakdown or be contaminated within six months of installation.
Community mapping: Everyone helps create a physical map of the area
How do we build in sustainability? By participating in our Community Based Learning in Action (CBLA) activities, communities discover through a dramatic mapping exercise how their traditional practice of open-field defecation impacts the water that they drink. This session “triggers” behavior change—motivating people to practice new hygiene behaviors and to construct and use pit latrines.
Nyangatom WatSanCo members with new uniforms and tools
As part of this project we helped establish new or revitalize existing community-based Water Sanitation Committees in each of the participating Dasenech and Nyangatom communities. These WatSanCo are critical to maintaining the community’s clean water supply. They assume the responsibility for maintaining the well, monitoring its surrounding defecation free zone, and fencing the pump to protect it from damage by livestock. Each committee has equal representation of men and women, ensuring that the all community members are involved in the process. The project supplied every WatSanCo with working tools for preventative maintenance and coveralls and gloves for each committee member.
Nana Lomokuriya collects funds for water point spare parts in Dasenech
The government Water, Energy & Mines office conducted the theoretical training, which we supported with additional hands-on, practical training. The five-day training sessions covered well preventative maintenance, water site protection (fencing the well and maintaining the defection-free zone), and water fee collection so the community has the funds for futures spare part purchases.
This project shows how we build sustainability into GTLI emergency water projects. With training, tools, and supplies these local WatSanCo are now empowered to maintain their access to clean water and handle future challenges.