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Human Interest /  •

Connecting the dots

Like many nations in Africa, Ethiopia faces a water crisis due to recurring drought, which causes enormous social, health and economic problems. Out of a population of 102 million, 61 million Ethiopians lack access to safe water, relying instead upon stagnant or heavily contaminated water sources that are often shared with animals.

Late last year, Envision Financial president Dave Lanphear and his son Matthew, 12, travelled to Ethiopia in the Horn of Africa to visit villages where Run for Water, an Abbotsford, BC-based charity, has built wells to source clean drinking water. Envision is a division of First West Credit Union, (247,000 members, $9.9 billion in assets).

For the past decade, Envision and Run for Water have undertaken a variety of events and programs together, including the Envision a Better World global citizenship initiative. “Being able to see the impact that a local fundraising event has across the world was pretty amazing,” says Lanphear. “It connected the dots for us on the true impact that a local event can have globally.”

Lanphear recalls one visit when he and Matthew walked into the village of Gereb Abdella where a well had been drilled the previous year. Villagers greeted them with cheers and clapping to show thanks. “I’ll never forget that,” Lanphear says.

Envision Financial President Dave Lanphear with his son Matthew in Ethiopia.

Lanphear also visited Tsigeba where, one month prior, Letisha’s Well was inaugurated in memory of Letisha Reimer, an Abbotsford student who was slain in 2016 at her high school. “It was an emotional day,” Lanphear says. “Seeing first-hand the legacy that came out of such a horrible tragedy was very powerful.”

Every year in Abbotsford and Calgary, Run for Water raises money to build new wells in Ethiopia by organizing half marathons, five- and 10-kilometre runs and trail runs. Through drilling wells, it has transformed more than 40 communities throughout Ethiopia since 2008, giving 200,000 people clean water access for life. ◊