Reservoir: Demekech’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 month, we want to introduce you to Demekech. 

As the months pass and you continue to receive just-for-you Reservoir updates, you'll notice a pattern begins to emerge: water is never just water. Water means improved health, education, and, for people like Demekech, it means earning a living to support her family. 

Demekech is a mother to three young kids, and a wife to a farmer. They live in Yella, high up on a mountain where it's too cold for malarial mosquitoes to thrive. Early each morning, Demekech's husband sets out for his farm, which is a two-hour walk away, down in a valley. 

Thanks to donors like you, in 2015 Yella received a new gravity-fed water system. Run for Water's team worked with members of the Yella community to tap a spring that's even higher up the mountain, which flows down through pipes and feeds a reservoir that's on the hill just above Demekech's home. 

The reservoir provides water to everyone in Yella via an intricate network of pipes and taps. But Demekech's enviable location gives her special access.

Because the spring is always flowing, the reservoir fills quickly and excess water runs off and into the ground. Smart and resourceful, Demekech saw an opportunity. She dug holes to capture the run-off. The little irrigation system she built allowed her to start a garden – a lush little world high in the mountains. She sells her produce – herbs, cabbages, bananas, limes and avocadoes – in her little store in Yella. Demekech is well-loved in the community, and her store is well-frequented by her friends and neighbours. The extra income she earns in her store has allowed Demekech to buy essentials as well as treats for her family.

Like we said, water is never just water. Thanks to water, Demekech is a proud, successful entrepreneur – made possible by people like you. 

Thank you – for Demekech, for the other people in Yella, and for the people in Sasiga whose lives will be changed by your Reservoir contributions.