“Scott, Tekloine has a surprise for you. You need to go in a separate car from the group to find out”
I split off from our group of 35 and asked @mattoliver to join me. We drove for 15 minutes, made a left off the main road, and headed down into a wide and dusty plain.
Daniel, one of the senior guys on our local water programs team asked me what I thought the surprise was. I said I really didn’t know. Maybe Tek wanted to show me one of the wells that @vikharrison and I had personally built in the names of our children? Maybe a new area that needed funding?
Our Land Cruiser descending into a rocky clearing where the temperature seemed 10 degrees hotter than where we’d just come from.
We got out and walked down a path, where a group of about 70 priests, men, women and children were gathered underneath a tree. I spotted a newly completed well, with a carefully constructed stone wall around it. Tek stood in front of it, grinning. He motioned me over to a curtain which hid something behind it in the rock wall. I moved the curtain, revealing the sign:
Debre Brhan Community Dakutu. NSBH. “In memory of the great mom Joan Kleppinger Harrison.” Tek handed me a package wrapped in shiny purple wrapping paper. Inside was a framed photo of mom, with the words “It’s not been easy to accept the death of our beloved mother Joan Kleppinger Harrison, but we feel proud of your son Scott Harrison, being with us strongly working hard to create access to clean and safe drinking water for the rural and needy people of Tigray.” - From REST staff, Tigray, Ethiopia. Tek told me that when my mom died of cancer last June, he asked 1500 of his local staff to contribute 200 birr ($7) and crowdfunded this well in her honor.
Although the generous @charitywater community has funded over 7,000 water projects in the country for 2M people, the well at Debra Berhan is now the most special one for me. A place where I hope to bring my wife, father and kids soon to pay tribute to mom’s lasting memory of kindness and generosity. And I hope somewhere up in heaven, mom can see the plaque next to this life-giving source with her name on it.