The Hulule Mojo Inclusive and Safe WASH project

“On the days I have to go and fetch water for my family, I am often late for school and arrive hungry, which means I can’t properly follow along in class or understand the lessons,” says Merium Abdi, 15.

Fetching water is a girl’s responsibility in Hulule Mojo community, as it is in most remote areas of Ethiopia. The community only has local access to unclean water – which can cause waterborne disease and in some cases, death – and travelling on average 3 hours back and forth to fetch clean water is required.

Merium standing under the new water project groundbreaking billboard

Merium Abdi is a grade 8 student. She lives with her two sisters and their single mom. And because her mom has to earn her own living to raise her three kids alone has increased Merium and her two siblings’ roles at home.

Merium says, “We have a coffee and sorghum farm. My mom is busy handling the farm and selling the product to cover our living and school expenses. My elder sister sometimes supports her with her daily labour – but she had to drop out of school when she was in grade six. As my younger sister is too young to help me, I am responsible for making ijera, cooking wot, cleaning the house, washing our clothes and fetching water.”

Merium always gets to school late as she has to fetch the family’s water before going to school. There are also days she is absent from school due to her household chores.
“I love education, but I can’t always attend class, nor can I study at home as much as is required of me. I have a lot to do to support my family, fetching water is the toughest though. I can only fetch 10 litres at a time, which takes me three hours there and back, but is not adequate for a whole day’s use. There are days I have to go to the river four times – I am forced to be absent from school on those days. I study late at night, which is the only time when I am free,” says Merium.

Regardless of all the burdens she has shouldered, Merium remains a top-ranked student in her class. However, as her grade level increases, the tougher it becomes to maintain her academic performance.

Merium says, “The Hulule Mojo IS-WASH project of imagine1day in collaboration with the Coca-Cola Foundation is an opportunity to access clean water near my home. It will help me focus on my education. Saving six hours a day at a minimum means I will not be late and absent from school. Since I will be in secondary school next year, I will be expected to duly attend class and have more time to study in order to succeed. I really look forward to seeing clean water in my community.”