Posted by Jim Taylor on Aug 19, 2019
Our speaker on Thursday was Thomas Scheuba, the young man who was our exchange student here in 2011. He currently heads a private charitable foundation that helps Ethiopian villagers have a dependable supply of drinking water.
 
Thomas credits his Exchange experience with learning to listen to a culture, rather than coming with pre-packaged answers. When he went back to his home in Austria,  his sister suggested he should now go to some place completely different. He chose a farming village in Ethiopia, where he slept on a dirt floor, did farm chores, understood none of the language, etc. But he also realized how much of the women’s time every day was spent just carrying water back and forth from the spring or river. Essentially, families live on 2 litres per person per day.
 
Yet there was water. The rains came, and it ran off, and some of it accumulated in springs and streams. The rest was lost.
 
He came home and set up a foundation to provide more reliable water. Initially, they provided water storage tanks for prominent families. He had mixed success there. Some shared their water, and trained others to conserve water. Others protected their good fortune from others.
 
So he started using schools, which are seen as community property.  When they collect rain off the roof, everyone benefits. The present plans show the villagers how to build a waterproof cistern, approximately 10 m by 12 m, and 8 m deep. They channel the rainwater off the school roof into the cistern. It’s big enough to supply several thousand people with 6 litres a day, for a whole year.
 
 It’s not purified. It still has to be boiled for safety. But it’s better than the water they used to gather. And a lot closer.
 
Thomas’s foundation, Support Ethopia, now has cisterns at 18 schools.
 
Harsh facts: 45% of rural Ethiopians have no access to fresh water. 73% have no sanitary facilities. 88% of their diseases are directly related to those two statistics – caused by polluted water supplies.
 
Thomas recognizes that simply supplying water is not the total solution. He uses the cisterns as a way of teaching people about conservation of water supplies. His foundation has also planted 40,000 trees, as a way of storing rainfall in the soil and reducing runoff and erosion.
 
Thomas thanked the Rotary Club of Lake Country for giving him his start in these projects, and for supporting him financially over the years.
 
Other News
The Club wishes to thank Rotarian Kayla Caruana and her mother and business partner, Karen Erickson, of IG Wealth Management, for their generous donation of $1200 toward our new Club project, which will eventually see a a new accessible fishing pier and kayak launch constructed on Pelmawash Parkway.  The funds were raised at client appreciation event, held on August 11 at Intrigue Winery.