Reservoir: Tsego’s Story

Agency: Shift Philanthropy

Reservoir is the monthly giving program of B.C.-based water charity Run for Water. Reservoir donors receive a number of perks for their ongoing support – including special, just-for-them updates about people in Ethiopian communities who have received water because of the donor’s support. Below is one of those stories. This project was and is close to my heart, as my master’s research was about how water-related non-profits use storytelling to support their fundraising and brand-building efforts.


This is Tsego. She’s 10. Bold and bright, she stands out from the other kids in her village. She’s got a distinctive look; most days, she wears a bright blue track suit, and a blue headscarf tied around her head. And then there are the jelly shoes.

Tsego couldn’t be prouder of her shoes. They’re new — and important — because Tsego is responsible for collecting enough water for herself, her parents and her three younger siblings.

That means daily treks to the nearest water supply, which is nearly two hours away, down a steep, rocky hill. Of course, that means the return trip is uphill, and Tsego has to take it on with a jerry can tied to her back. Full, the jerry can weighs more than half what Tsego herself does.

The journey is dangerous at the best of times, but it’s particularly treacherous during the rainy season, when the hillside floods. Tsego has watched members of her community fall and hurt themselves. Most of us can’t imagine sending our young children out — alone — in conditions half as bad as this, but Tsego’s parents, subsistence farmers, have no choice. They need water, and this is the only way for them to get it.

Tsego used to make the trip barefoot. Though her new shoes are flimsy and clearly no match for the conditions she faces, Tsego says they have made the trip better. Even better? When she doesn’t have to make the trip at all.

That will soon be a reality, thanks to donors like you.  

Within a few months, Tsego will have clean water just 100 metres from her hut. Even better, she says, is the new school that we at Run for Water are building with our friends at imagine1day. Tsego has never had a real school before, and because she won’t have to trek for water, she’ll have more time to attend — and to study and read.

Tsego is most excited about the library — about the opportunity to take out books. The opportunity to bring home a book — something she’s never done before — is the most exciting of all. Even better than her jelly shoes.

Thanks for being a member of our Reservoir community, and changing lives like Tsego’s.

Bring water to even more kids like Tsego. Share her story with your friends and encourage them to become Reservoir members too.