Today’s Addis Insight inspirational Article is about an interview I had with an extraordinary young woman who managed to build 28 water wells before turning 28 years old and she is Hermella Wondimu who is the co-founder and General Manager of Drop of Water.
Born and raised in Harar a city very well known for its contagious love Hermella was missing Harar sociability vibe due to her family’s strict control on her academics. The focus on her academics ultimately paid off scoring high in all her national exam.
Hermella journey towards her inspiring story starts the day she met Hollywood Superstar Matt Damon in Mekelle while she was a third year civil engineering student. Hermella and her friends were dying to meet him hoping that he came to shoot a movie. But what they thought was wrong. Rather he came to Mekelle to help a community have access to clean water. Though they were over the moon meeting Mr. Damon, they were also taken aback that non-Ethiopians would come from distant places and strive hard to help their own community. Thus at that instant moment Hermella with her six best friends decided to take their own initiative and form a student movement.
When Hermella and her friends starts to formalize the formation of Help for a Drop of Water the first thing they did was to visit rural community few miles away from Mekelle University to understand problems caused by lack of clean water.As a result they were able to identify lack of access to clean water not only affects the community health but affects women to drop out school since they travel miles to fetch water while missing their classes.
Drop of Water
April 22, 2009 Hermella and her friends launched Help for a Drop of Water(HFDW) with the aim of raising awareness about access to clean water. Their effort not only raised awareness but also allow them to raise funds in their graduation year. They established their first water well in Enderta village. They celebrated their university graduation alongside with the villagers. That was the day in which their dreams become reality.
The society who are going to be benefited from that water well directly or indirectly were very cheerful that they were puzzled what to give the seven young hero to show their deep happiness and gratitude. Hermella vividly remembers her emotional reaction during the day and she put it in simple words
“We received twice as much love from the love they gave to their community”
After graduation Hermella and her friends started their second chapter of their life. They all ended up in different fields, countries and careers. Hermella started working in the construction industry in Addis Ababa. Though her career was related with her field that she had studied, her heart never forgot about the people who need a hand to have clean water. So Hermella decided to resign from her work and continue on a drop of water remembering the courage of her grandparents whom they are very selfless and a heart of gold people.
Like any other family Hermella’s parents were hesitant at the beginning when she told them that she had decided to resign from her comfort work. But she was never afraid even though she had faced a lot of challenges. One of the tiring Challenges for her was finding a way to support herself until 2012 and she had to do part-time job to support herself while pursuing the passion of bringing clean water to rural community.
Throughout these journey Drop of water, has constructed 28 water wells in areas around Mekelle University. Around 16,000 people are benefiting directly and indirectly from these water wells. The societies express their happiness by presenting what they have like a boiled egg, honey or traditional dresses. And the feedback she gets has always been energy for her to never give up and continue. On the future she wants to expand the project to other regions that need such kind of support.
How She Do It
Eventhough Hermella managed to build 28 water wells she is not big funded like other NGO’s instead she believes in community mobilization. That is why she was able to convince an army of University Students who volunteer to achieve DOW goal. Because of Hermella’s Drop of Water people like Meron raise funds to celebrate their birthday by building water well and bringing endless joy to a community.
In 2015 Hermella Wondimu was chosen by President Obama administration to attend the Young African Leadership Initiative and the recognition is a proof of her impact not only in Ethiopia but also in Africa.
Though I didn’t want to stop talking with such an amazing hero in Ethiopia, the time restrict us and asked her what her message would be about knowledge to the youth at the end. Hermella said “Knowledge is the most crucial thing that could be a remedy to each and every problem. But the thing is having knowledge by itself is nothing if we do not know how to use it. Likewise Ethiopia is one of the most known Countries in her resources. But we have to critically know how to utilize the resources so that we could wisely use our knowledge at the same time the resource. I encourage the youth to figure out their role model and never give up on their dream because some day they will find out themselves in a place and position where they always wished to be. Because I always dream and picture myself in a place where I could help and support poor communities just like my beloved grandparents with anything I have and here I am today.”
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[avatar user=”edenbinega” align=”center” link=”http://www.addisinsight.com/author/edenbinega/” target=”_blank”]Eden Binega is a journalist and mentor in Center for Creative Leadership. She used to be a host in 105.3 AFRO FM radio Station and a reporter in Mazarot magazine. [/avatar]