Hope for Tayo

Written by Michelle Watrin as told by Randall and Tessa Peters Illustrated by Dennis Levesque

Hope for Tayo is based on a true story of Tessa Peters travelling from Abbotsford, British Columbia to Southern Ethiopia with her dad in 2010. The two toured several villages working with Hope International. Tessa met Tayo and her family in Gewada.

Tessa's dad and his friends were integral spokes in the wheel that started the Run for Water.

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"Mamma, it's not fair," Tayo said.

Tayo is a young girl from the Derashe Region in Ethiopia. She lives with her parents and brother, Alyse, in a hut. They sleep on cots and cook over an open fire.

"I want to be a nurse," Tayo continued. "But I have to fetch water. Why do the boys get to go to school?"

Tayo's mom sighed. Her heart danced to hear Tayo had a dream, but she was sad it could never come true. "Since our river dried up years ago, girls have always had to get water in our village. I had to do it too."

Tayo's pet monkey, Sisay, climbed onto her shoulder and tugged her earlobe to comfort her. She looked at Sisay as a tear ran down her cheek.

In front of her hut Tayo strapped a 40-litre (10 gallon) jug onto her back. She glanced at the boys heading to the one-room schoolhouse and longed to join them. But she had a three-hour trek ahead of her to collect water from a spring at the top of the mountain for her family. If she didn't, her family wouldn't be able to cook, clean or drink that evening or much of the next day.

The sun's hot rays reached through the trees and played with sweat on Tayo's forehead and back as she joined the other girls to do what they did every day: fetch water. The water at the top of the mountain was the cleanest water around, even though it was still full of disease and bacteria.

Tayo usually woke up to her mother singing, but one day Tayo woke up and heard her mother cryi ng.

"Alyse is very sick," Tayo's mom said wiping tears away. "He has an infection in his leg." The infection came after she used water from the mountain to clean a cut from a thorn.

Tayo hugged Sisay and prayed for a miracle for her brother. In their village 80 percent of sickness is caused from dirty water and many kids die from infections. "I wish I were a nurse," Tayo whispered to Sisay who tugged on her earlobe again.

As Tayo met the girls to start their daily hike for water, she heard a strange noise over the horizon. Suddenly, she recognized the hum as one that came only from jeeps, and jeeps always meant the day would be a special one.

Before she knew it, her nimble legs were running toward three jeeps. When the jeeps stopped, a girl around Tayo's age opened the door and came out. The girl was a bit taller than Tayo. All the girls of the village surrounded her and were reaching out to touch her white skin and her brown, straight hair. The girl just smiled and said something in her language that sounded like a greeting.

Bekele, a translator from Tayo's village, told them the girl's name was Tessa and that the group was from Canada. Four people came with Tessa including her dad who had a big smile.

Tessa and her dad walked toward Tayo's hut. They were alarmed to see Alyse lying on a mat in front of their hut suffering with a very high fever. They promised to help him with medicine. Tayo's heart skipped as she realized she was looking at the answer to the prayer she had said earlier for her brother.

Tessa spoke to Tayo through Bekele's translation. "We are the same age and live on different sides of the world. I want to know what life is like for you. Will you take me to collect water?"

The big smile on Tayo's face answered Tessa's question.

The steep, rocky trails were much harder than Tessa expected. She had no idea how Tayo did the same trip under the blistering sun every day carrying a huge, almost 18 kilogram (40-pound), container of water on her back on the trip home. Tessa couldn't wait to get to the waterhole, and she looked forward to a nice long drink of fresh water.

When they reached the waterhole, Tessa watched Tayo and four other girls jump into waist-deep muddy, murky water. Before thinking, Tessa exclaimed, "That is so gross!" She wasn't being mean; she was just surprised at how dirty the water was, and that there was cow manure all around. She was even more surprised that the girls were drinking it so freely. Back home Tessa's little sister would be using dirty water like this to make mud pies. She suddenly realized that this awful, gross water was the only option they had for drinking, cooking and cleaning.

On the way back to the village,Tessa almost fell down a steep hill, but Tayo grabbed her hand to stop her. She and the other girls made it back to the village three and a half hours after they started.

Tessa was exhausted and sticky with sweat. She ran to her dad and hugged him.

"This isn't fair," she said and tears ran down her cheeks. "Just because Tayo was born here she has to walk for water and doesn't get to go to school. We have to help her village get clean water."

Her dad smiled his big smile. "That is exactly what we are going to do."

8ekele told Tayo what Tessa and her dad had said. "If you can do that, it will be the best gift ever!" Tayo cheered. "Then I can go to school and become a nurse to help kids like Alyse." Remembering her brother, she ran to her hut. Alyse was sitting up and drinking the last of the muddy water that Tayo had brought down from the mountain the day before. "Alyse! You look a little bit better!"

Shortly after their walk for water, Tessa wanted to sit and rest, but Tayo had to start preparing dinner for her family. Sisay climbed onto Tessa's shoulder as she sat and watched Tayo wash her hands, carefully using the water she had just carried from the mountain. She washed over top of a plant outside of her hut. The run-off from her hands watered the plant - every drop of water was precious. Tessa continued to watch Tayo prepare injera, a flat bread used to pick up stewed meats and vegetables, on a pan over the fire pit inside her hut. She also prepared meats and vegetables.

After dinner, Tayo picked up some hand-made jump ropes and headed out with Tessa to find her friends. Tessa was a good hockey player back home, but she learned a lot from Tayo and her friends. They taught her how to do tricky moves with the jump rope, like a double under. Tessa loved hearing them laugh and sing jump rope jingles in their language.

Later, Tayo watched Tessa's jeep disappear over the horizon in the wavy, sweltering African air. Would Tessa really help them get clean water in her village?

As the jeep drove away, Tessa began to brainstorm with her dad; how could she make a difference for her new friend Tayo?

When Tessa returned to Canada, she and her dad told their friends about Tayo and her village. Tessa's teacher and class joined her dad and some of his friends in planning a 'fun-run' for people to donate to an organization that would build a pipeline for Tayo's village. The run was called Run for Water. Thousands of Canadians came, enjoyed the run, and donated money.

The run raised enough for Tayo's village and six more villages in the Derashe Region of Ethiopia to get clean water!

Three months later, trucks filled with pipes came to Tayo's village. Tayo and her family and neighbors were so excited to hear they could build a pipeline from a clean mountain spring right to their village. Tayo remembered Tessa and let out a cry of happiness and started to do a little jig. Her life was going to change. She could be a nurse after all!

Together, the villagers made maps and plans for the project. Everyone in the village was involved with the pipeline: the adults walked up the mountain and dug trenches for the pipes, and Tayo and her friends took on more chores around the village like working in the fields and watching the younger kids. After one month of very hard work, the trenches and pipes were ready to bring water from a clean spring 10 kilometres away on the mountain!

Everyone in the village gathered around a silver tap embedded into a stone basin.

The villagers knew their lives would change forever in the next few moments. The chief of the village carefully turned the handle on the tap. Everyone started dancing and cheering as they watched the clearest water burst out of the nozzle.

This began the biggest celebration Tayo could remember. She will never forget seeing everyone dance and sing, her mom being one of the best dancers and singers of all. As her mom hugged her for what seemed like the hundredth time, she whispered in a singsong voice, "Now you can chase your dream Tayo; now you will catch your dream!" Tayo memorized how her mom's eyes were smiling crescent shapes and knew she would never forget them or this moment. She would not have to walk for water ever again!

Tayo's mom brushed Tayo's hair and pulled it into intricate braids. When she finished, Tayo put on her nicest shirt and skirt.

She marched out the door, picked up her jug for water, and walked 20 steps to the village tap. In less than five minutes Tayo had filled the water jug and returned to the hut. "My chores are done. Now I am going to SCHOOL!" Tayo announced with a proud smile. She hugged a healthy Alyse, who would be old enough to join her for school in a few years. Tayo hugged her mom, and they shared a special giggle. Then Tayo turned to leave the hut. She ran all the way to the one-room schoolhouse with Sisay on her shoulder.

Her mom watched her run. "My girl is going to be a nurse!" she said, and the tear running down her cheek didn't stop her legs from dancing with joy around the hut on the first day of school for Tayo.

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Questions for discussion:

1. Locate Derashe Region in Ethiopia on a map.

How does its location effect how hot it is in this story?

2. What are some possible reasons the river next to Tayo's village is gone?

3. How did Tessa and her dad raise money for Tayo's village to receive the equipment to make a pipeline of clean water to her village?

Could anyone do this?

4. If $35 gives one person clean water for the rest of his or her life, how many people would receive clean water with $200,000?

5. What can you and your class do to help other girls stop walking for water and go to school?

HOPE International Development Agency

Established in 1975, HOPE International Development Agency's mission is to enable people in the developed world to connect with people in the poorest communities on earth through compassionate giving and other opportunities to help. In one year alone, Hope International's work will positively impact the lives of more than one million people worldwide. Through Run for Water's contributions, Hope has established clean water systems for several villages in the Derashe and Bonke Regions of Ethiopia.

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Since 2008 Run For Water has staged a high-calibre running event in Abbotsford, British Columbia on the last Sunday in May with all the proceeds going to Hope International's projects for clean water in Southern Ethiopia. The directors of Run For Water share the goal of promoting physical health as well as empowering students and adults alike to raise funds for clean water development in under-privileged communities.

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A DIVISION OF FIRSTWEST CREDIT UNION

Envision Financial is a proud sponsor of the Learn, Create, Run educational program of Run for Water that inspires kids to make a difference in their communities and around the world.

Tessa is a young Canadian girl who loves hockey, her friends and her school. On a very special trip with her dad, Tessa meets Tayo in an Ethiopian village.

Even though they live in different worlds, the two realize they are a lot alike.

Tessa learns Tayo must walk a treacherous route several hours every day to collect water for her family and is unable to go to school. Tessa's determination and creativity helps Tayo's village receive clean water so that

her new friend could also go to school.

Based on a true story, Hope for Tayo will inspire all readers, young and old, to make a difference in their communities and around the world.

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