We met Telele at a water tap beside a dusty road in southern Ethiopia.
She is a fifteen year old girl with a big smile and beautiful eyes.
There were probably around a hundred people waiting in line with their twenty five litre jerry cans arranged in order to get them filled. The vast majority were girls and young women. And standing nearby were almost twice that number of donkeys.
We asked Telele how far she had travelled to get to the water tap. She said that it took her and her donkey three hours to walk there from her home. Sometimes the queue at the water tap is so long that she has to wait for four hours before she can get her cans filled. Then it is another three hours to walk home again.
But this is much better than it used to be. She used to have to walk for half a day to collect dirty water for her family. This water is clean and it is closer to her home.
Telele has to come to the water tap every other day in order to get her family’s water. That means that she can only go to school every other day, or, if she gets up very early in the morning, she can be back home in time to do some studying in the evening. So far she has reached Grade Seven.
This remarkable young woman was only one of dozens around that one water point. The whole region of southern Ethiopia remains drought- stricken and getting water to drink and to water their animals is the basic priority for every family.
Christian Aid is supporting a number of very large water projects in this area and the difference it is making is remarkable, especially in the lives of people like Telele and her family.
Two things struck me as I stood with Telele and the crowd of young people at the water tap. Firstly, I remembered Jesus’ words about giving a cup of cold water in his name. This work of Christian Aid is an appropriate extension of that command of Christ.
Secondly we asked Telele about her future. She said that she wanted to become a teacher. In the midst of a desperate situation, Telele has hope. That is the difference that such gospel-inspired action makes in the lives of ordinary, poor people.