Church Raises Over $20,000 For Safe Water

Small sacrifices add up to a huge difference for families in Ethiopia.


Hundreds of people at a church in northern San Luis Obispo County have come together to provide safe water for thousands in Ethiopia. By giving up a routine or luxury during the season of Lent, individuals contributed its equivalent to a local non-profit serving vulnerable families in southern Ethiopia through clean water and sanitation. Highlands Church attendees did things like give up coffee, wine, or fast food for 40 days before Easter. Together they raised over $20,000 for the cause.

“Highlands has always been a really outward-focused and generous group,” says Sean Martin, Highlands’ Senior Pastor, “but this blew me away. It’s awesome to think of how many lives this will change.”

Over 44 million people in Ethiopia, nearly half the population, are without a source of safe water, and nearly 70 million, or three quarters, are without improved sanitation. The lack of access to water and sanitation is a major factor in reinforcing a cycle of poverty as well as high child mortality rates. Worldwide, about 1,600 children die each day because of preventable, water-borne diseases like diarrhea.

The funds raised by Highlands will support the work of Lifewater International, which has been working to bring water to the remote, rural region of Borena since 2009. Lifewater is a global non-profit based in San Luis Obispo that has served over 2.5 million people in over 40 countries with safe water and sanitation in almost 40 years of operation. Last year Lifewater helped over 27,000 in Ethiopia get safe water and helped 61,000 improve their sanitation.

Justin Narducci, Lifewater’s President/CEO, says, “The people of Borena are really dedicated to participating in bringing water and sanitation to their communities. They have a very strong social structure that helps them organize to help their neighbors, but because it is such an arid region, the availability of water shapes everything about their lives. When communities get water, they get healthy, build schools, and plant farms.” He adds, “The people at Highlands have given gifts that will save children’s lives and transform entire communities.”

The funds are expected to bring water and sanitation to four communities in Ethiopia. Highlands member Sada Andrews traveled to the Borena region in November 2014. “These are real people, not just numbers. They have names, dreams, worries, and a sense of humor. It’s an honor to see the sacrifices my neighbors have made and to know how significant it will be to the families I met in Ethiopia,” she said.

Highlands Church gave over $18,000 in 2014 so that families in northern Uganda could access safe water, resulting in three communities receiving safe water, sanitation, and hygiene education.

Lifewater International is a non-profit Christian water development organization dedicated to effectively serving vulnerable children and families by partnering with underserved communities to overcome water poverty. With experience in more than 40 countries since 1977, Lifewater serves people of all faiths, focusing on contextually appropriate water sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) development. For more information, contact Christine Zurbach ( or visit Lifewater International is based in San Luis Obispo, CA.

Choose a Village. Change a Life.