At 80 years old, Birhane is one of the oldest people in the community. Her tough life is demonstrated by her painful limp, but her mind is as sharp as a pin.

Still carrying water at 70

10 years ago a fall, whilst carrying a 20 litre Jerry can on her back, broke Birhane’s leg beyond repair. Since then she hasn’t had the strength to make the trip to the water source and now relies on her family for help. “Thanks to my children, I don’t collect water now – they do instead. I do the daily chores here. I make injera and wot.”


Without a latrine, Birhane is forced to use the bushes. A safe toilet near her home would make all the difference.

“Because I am old, I don’t really care if people see me. If I had a latrine I wouldn’t be broken again – if I have to go in the open then I may slip and lose my good leg – so it would be good to have a latrine!”

The start of a new story

“Let me tell you a story: an old lady is sitting outside her house and she hears a strange sound so she asks her child ‘what is this noise?’ The child tells her that it is a train and tells her about trains. The old lady is happy that the child will get to travel on a train. I think this project is like this: it is not so much for me – I am waiting to die now – but it is for my children and grandchildren. It will be good for them to experience the changes.”


Jeremy Gibson

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