COVID-19 Update: Thankfulness from Ethiopia

All over the world, a common virus threatens the lives and livelihoods of families. We know that one of the best ways to prevent the spread of the virus is hand washing.

In rural Ethiopia, 40 percent of the population has no way to wash their hands. Another 50 percent have a sink or a facility to hold water (like a tippy tap), but no regular access to water or soap. This makes the majority of Ethiopia unable to exercise this basic practice.

In May of 2020, staff in Ethiopia began distributing soap to communities unable to purchase it themselves. These included especially vulnerable populations like single mothers, the elderly, and the disabled. In total, staff distributed 5,300 bars of soap to vulnerable homes and critical supplies to nearby health centers, including gloves, masks, hand sanitizer, and much more.

Lifewater sanitation and hygiene coordinator, Selam Hailu, distributes soap.

One such couple was Ambo and Fatuma Galchu, residents of Abayi Chali village. Over the years, the couple raised four children, and all have now grown up and moved away. Ambo says that he and Fatuma used to be so strong. They worked hard and made a living for their family. But, now in old age, their health problems have made it challenging to work efficiently and afford the essentials.

As we spoke to Ambo and Fatuma, she held a bar of soap in both her hands. She told us that before Lifewater came, she went to community leaders to ask for help to purchase soap, but no one could help her.

“So when the staff working for this organization came to my home and called on me for soap distribution, I didn’t believe it,” she said. “I didn’t believe anyone would help us in this difficult time.”

“We are now more safe from the disease, and I am so thankful and wish those that reached us in our time of need a long and healthy life,” she added.

Using proper social distancing, Lifewater staff member Selam distributes soap to Fatuma, a resident in Abayi Chali village.

Ambo said, “The proverb says, ‘One’s heart is judged by who he stands by during great difficulty!’ Today this organization has proven us this proverb by standing with us even when everybody is in fear of going out of their homes; you have come a long way to our home to provide us with the soap and help us stay alive.”


Rahmate Husen, a single mother of two, seemed to echo Ambo.

“Now, I feel like Lifewater has saved our lives; my family has hope to live safer because we can wash our hands with soap and do our part to be safe from the current disease.” – Rahmate

Rahmate’s husband recently passed away, leaving her to her grief and to the responsibility of raising their two young daughters. A life that was once humble but comfortable has now become nearly impossible.

When she learned about the virus, she knew they could not afford soap; Rahmate wakes every morning wondering how they will eat that day. When Lifewater provided her family with five bars of soap, Rahmate was overjoyed.

Rahmate and her daughters wash their hands with soap before gathering water at the well.

“Now, I feel like Lifewater has saved our lives; my family has hope to live safer because we can wash our hands with soap and do our part to be safe from the current disease,” she said. “I’m so grateful… I want to thank you for providing this soap.”


Choose a Village. Change a Life.