RAW Rolling Papers Builds Fresh Water Wells for Ethiopian District


Photo by Marka/UIG via Getty Images

Smoke a joint, save a life?

Quite possibly (though YOU don’t really deserve any of the credit), as the RAW Foundation, the philanthropic and entirely self-funded arm of RAW Rolling Papers, recently helped finish the construction of 10 clean water wells in the Ethiopian district of Wondo Genet Woreda, located about four hours south of the capital, Addis Ababa.

Access to fresh water is a common problem in Ethiopia, where the population number is just under 100 million. According to the World Health Organization and UNICEF, 43 percent of the population does not have access to safe water, and 17 percent of childhood deaths are associated with a waterborne illness.

Residents of the Wondo Genet Woreda district were walking upwards of two hours to collect water from unpolluted sources, only able to bring back as much water as they could carry. This took a huge toll on the district: many students, most at a young age, had to miss class or dropped out of school entirely to help their families with the water walks.

Additionally, closer sources, such as unprotected wells and polluted rivers or springs, are breeding grounds for bacteria due to overcrowding and drought conditions. Despite plans to develop 80 new wells for clean water throughout the district, the district water office’s budget has prevented construction.

To help, the RAW Foundation—overseen personally by RAW’s founder, Joshua Kesselman—provided the funds for the construction of 10 new wells ($70,000) to provide fresh water to 3,350 people.

And that’s not all: Over 550 male and female household heads will receive training in sanitation and hygiene awareness, hopefully helping to cut down on common waterborne diseases like typhoid and diarrhea.

This is not the RAW Foundation’s first charitable investment in Africa.

Their work has included creating a water filtration project in the Congo, sponsoring an orphanage in Bali, Indonesia, and building or repairing numerous water wells in Ethiopia and Uganda. The biggest project the foundation has undergone was helping Mother Theresa’s main hospital in the capital by installing a large-scale water distribution system, then doing the same for a second hospital by installing a water filtration system.

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