The Story behind East African Village Outreach (EAVO)
I started what I called “community transformation” by accident a few years back. In February 2005, Fremont Presbyterian church, located near Sacramento State University, asked me to help with their short-term missions, when they assembled a group of 7 church members to travel to Ethiopia to visit their mission fields. My wife Mulu and I agreed to help. After a long flight to Ethiopia, we travelled to their mission field – a 400 mile trip that took two days by car on a dirt road!
On our way back to the Capital city, Addis Ababa, I invited the team to visit my birth-village, Acheber,. They all agreed. We had a wonderful time staying in my dad’s hut overnight, built at the top of a very cold hilltop, about 10,000 feet above sea level. The next morning, we started walking towards our cars that were parked nearly 4 miles away, and saw a small boy fetching dirty water in two containers from the same spring that I used to collect water at about his age. But, things have changed for the worse this time. There were too many pot holes around the spring, dug by the villagers to find water when one dries up. The pond this boy was fetching from was so dirty that no one in his right mind would even wash his feet, let alone drink it. Villagers such as this young boy gathered their water from this mud hole, which they shared with livestock by daylight and hyenas by night.
The 8 year old boy didn’t even care what those 7 foreigners and a few Ethiopians were doing near the pond. He had a job to do – fetch water and go home. We took his picture and my depression began right there!
I was depressed for two months after I arrived in the USA to be with my family. I would hardly eat, drink or joke around with my wife and kids during those two months. Something was wrong with me. I couldn’t take the picture of that child off my mind no matter how hard I tried. So, I decided to do something about it. I sold my car, sold my African collections at a garage sale, begged at a church, washed cars for donations and went back in October of the same year, armed with about $6,000 and got the spring water fixed complete with a tank, making clean water available for 200+ villagers and their cattle.