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Visiting Charity:Water Wells In Remote Northern Ethiopian Villages, April, 2013

Note: This is the first of several posts I’ll be doing about my trip to Ethiopia last April.  This first one below describes the background about the trip.

I was part of a delegation of 9 going to the beautiful mountains of northern Ethiopia with Soma and its philanthropic partner, charity:water, to visit charity:water’s wells in remote villages there,  as the delegation’s Dwell Media representative.

My connection to Soma:  I’ve known the CEO and co-founder of Soma, Mike Del Ponte, since 2008 and Soma’s co-founder, Ido Leffler, since 2010.  Ido is also the co-founder of Yes To, Inc. (Yes to Carrots, Yes To Tomatoes, Yes To Blueberries, etc.) the second largest natural beauty brand in the US (a feat they achieved in under 5 years. Amazing.)

About Soma: Soma’s vision is to redefine how the world consumes beverages in the home.  Their first product is a decanter-quality glass carafe with the world’s first 100% compostable water filter. It will launch in September, 2013, and had a pre-launch splash to over 30,000 attendees at America’s largest design show, Dwell on Design, June 21-23 at the LA Convention Center. Inc. Magazine named Soma one of the 5 “most audacious companies for design” of 2013 and Fast Company called Soma one of the “top design stories of 2012.”

How Dwell is involved:  Dwell Magazine was a favorite of the people who contributed to Soma’s Kickstarter campaign last November (raising $100,000 in 9 days.)  I’ve been a consultant to Dwell for 10 years.  Also, Dwell Media’s president, Michela O’Connor Abrams, is a member of the FocusCatalyst Advisory Board.

About charity:water: “Charity: water is a non-profit organization bringing clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations.”  Charity:water was founded in 2006 and as of January 2012 has helped fund 6,611 projects in 20 countries, benefiting over 2,545,000 people–raising over $40 million with 100% of it going to provide clean water wells.

And that’s only part of their story.  What they’ve done partnering with Google is amazing.  Every well is visible on Google Earth and through a new $5 million grant from Google, their projects will soon be remotely monitored so if anything stops working a local mechanic can be dispatched on a motorbike in country to fix it.

Charity:Water is famous for people celebrating their birthdays by asking friends and family to donate their age in dollars to it.  Over 30,000  have pledged to this.  

About the Trip:  We flew from NYC to Dubai on 4/18 and then on to Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.  The next day we flew to the mountains in northern Ethiopia.  Then every day there we visited remote villages–some that have wells already, some that are digging ones now and some that don’t have a well yet.