In each one of us there is the possibility of achieving change. Today we share the story of Alejandro Carballo, who has been contributing to the construction of wells in Ethiopia for six years. Alejandro is an example of individual initiative that, together with the Emalaikat Foundation, has helped change the lives of many people. He has told us his story.
How did your adventure to build wells in Ethiopia begin?
Six years ago I went as a volunteer to Ethiopia with the University Francisco de Vitoria. When I returned I felt a desire to continue helping, to give an answer to everything I had experienced. And to do it from Madrid, which is where I live.
Looking for information I realized that Ethiopia is a country that is immersed in one of the worst droughts of the last century. I wrote to several foundations that worked on water well issues. Of those, I loved the Emalaikat Foundation project.
I contacted them and they were very close from the beginning. They told me how they build the wells and how much each one is worth, which is about 1000 euros. So I said to myself: "I have to help". I uploaded a post to my personal Facebook and the next morning enough people had contacted me so I could build two wells.
It's quite a start!
Of course, I saw that people were mobilizing and I said, "Let's go get some more”. I took it to my family, to my friends, to the university... And that's how it all started.
And it's been 6 years building wells.
I was so impressed by what I experienced in Ethiopia that I couldn't leave my help in just 20 days of volunteering.
During these years, what have you achieved?
I started in my personal Facebook. In one day I got 2 wells. Then, through a friend who organized a solidarity market we got for another one. Then I won a contest at my university and got more money for another one.
Then I started contacting companies: working together with my university we got almost 4 more wells. Also doing talks in schools we got 4 more wells.
The thing is that people realize that here in Europe we open a tap and we have water, but there are places where children have to stop going to school to get water for their family.
Are you still working independently and traveling to Ethiopia?
Yes, every year I travel independently to an orphanage there to collaborate. It is already more of a friendship than a professional relationship.
How do you build a well in Ethiopia?
I collect the money and deposit it in an account that the foundation has in the country. Then they build the wells at a certain time of the year, because there are only two seasons, one dry and one wet. You have to build in the dry season to make sure that the well reaches depth.
Much of the money is used to buy some concrete cylinders for the walls of the well. Then they dig with their hand and pick and shovel... And when they reach the water, they place the cylinders. Then they put in pulleys and draw water with a crank. It's very rudimentary, but a thousand euro well supplies more than 50 people.
Over the years, how many wells have you built?
About 15 or 20.
What impacts you most on each trip to Ethiopia?
What strikes me most is the great impact that an action that for us does not represent so much effort or money can have.
It seems simple: if you have a well, you can drink and feed your animals, which allows you to feed yourself better. In addition, you can make a garden, which allows you to supply yourself and sell in the markets. And then your children can go to school and get an education. Education is the real engine of change. It changes your life.
Do you have any new projects coming?
I would like to be able to get involved in a more regular way with Ethiopia. I'm becoming more and more attracted to it and I've already talked to them about how to help Emalaikat from the inside. Now I combine it with my studies and work. If I haven't got involved yet, it's because I haven't seen myself as being able to really get involved.
What would you say to someone who wants to start acting now to change the planet?
Well, we all have a duty to be agents of change within society. The best ambassadors for any change are ourselves. You don't have to have thousands of followers to make a difference: none of my friends have been unaware of the problems they have in Ethiopia.
We have done no more than other people to be born where we were born. That's why we have to move to make the world better. Don't you want to come to Ethiopia to dig wells? It's okay, you can go and hand out sandwichs in your town to people who need them or pick up plastic on beaches and in forests. You don't have to be a hero. And it's something that will change you forever.