WellWishers is the name of a group of individual Australians who have been donating money to continue a programme of providing Hand-Dug Water Wells in the northern province of Tigray, Ethiopia. This programme was begun by Community Aid Abroad in 1986 and continued by Oxfam Australia (the successor of CAA). Oxfam Australia's work in the Horn of Africa was discontinued in 2005. A few individual supporters of the Hand-Dug Wells programme decided that it was too important to let it lapse. Since 2002, they have raised funds to build over
720 wells, which forever changes the lives of about 285,000 people.
Individual donors provide varying amounts with all donations being pooled. Donations by Australian taxpayers, are tax deductible. There are no pastoral
or relgious activities related to the WellWishers programme.
WellWishers work with REST (Relief Society of Tigray), an Ethiopian NGO/Not-For-Profit Organisation. REST has been assisting the people of Tigray since 1978 and have been building wells there for over
Wellwishers was chosen as the group name after consultation with donors. It was felt the name encapsulated the programme of providing Hand-Dug Water Wells.
HOW OLD ARE WE?
We were informally established as WellWishers in 2006, with the WellWishers Trust formally set up in 2007. See foot of this page for details of the Trustees.
HOW DO WE WORK?
We seek donations from the general public and forward over 97% of the funds to Ethiopia to the NGO REST (Relief Society of Tigray). They select sites, organise and monitor the construction work and provide training for maintenance and book-keeping.
In 2017 we added village water supplies in Oromia, southern
Ethiopia, to our program iof support.
To supply clean water to all rural Tigray
To maintain a minimum building programme of 50 wells per year.
To enable the villages to acquire health and education facilities.
WellWishers’ goal is to maximise its annual fundraising in order to quickly and effectively build as many wells as possible in Ethiopia, to bring clean water to as many men, women & children as possible, thus saving, extending and enhancing their lives.
Best selling author Di Morrissey is also supporting. Di Morrissey said, “We can all make a difference to someone else’s life. What is so impressive about this project is that it’s all about positives. Every donation makes a difference to the overall goal of saving lives. Over 300 wells have been built in Ethiopia since 2002. Hundreds and hundreds of lives have been saved by these wells, and WellWishers needs the support of the public to continue building these life changing wells.”
Golden Guitar winning Country singer Melinda Schneider says, “I’m urging people to support WellWishers because the fact is that you can change lives through this project. It’s horrific to think that one in five children in Ethiopia will die before the age of 5 essentially because of dirty water. Most rural Ethiopians are living on less than 5 litres of water a day. Anyone can make a difference. I’m asking people to adopt this cause because more has to be done. This project saves lives. It’s a privilege to support it.”
“WellWishers is an astounding project. I am proud to get behind this initiative that literally gets in there, builds wells and saves hundreds of lives. Clean drinking water is a vital resource that we all take for granted and it’s shocking to know that some people are dying from their drinking water… something has to be done. The wells built by WellWishers are built in rural and remote villages of the northern Tigray province. A village of up to 500 people benefit from the building of each well. Sometimes more. Anyone can make a difference to this project by just raising funds and taking some action to support the work of WellWishers.”
Olympic medallist and swimming star Matt Welsh is backing the project. Matt Welsh said, “I’m asking people to consider adopting this cause because we can all make a difference to the life of someone else. Women in Ethiopia often get up at 5 in the morning, work until 11 at night and spend an average of about 3 hours collecting water 365 days a year – often from dirty puddles, dams and rivers used by livestock. Polluted water is a significant cause of ill health and malnutrition and one of the reasons so many children die. Building a well changes all that. WellWishers is an astonishing project.”
The trustees who are legally responsible for the governance, transparency and accountability issues relating to the Trust, are:
Mark has a wonderful wife Jenny, and 3
grown children. A retired Strategic Land Use Planner, Mark’s career
started at the MMBW and finished at Surf Coast Shire. They were
introduced to WellWishers through a friend and were impressed with
its operation, leading to their family donating a well one year in
lieu of Christmas presents. Mark most liked the ownership taken by
the villages in constructing, managing and maintaining the wells and
was moved to become more directly involved in the ongoing support of
WellWishers. Since retiring Jenny and Mark have embraced voluntary
and philanthropic activities. They have been involved with Uniting
World and Frontier Services (spending time in Malaysia, Papua New
Guinea and in the Mutitjulu Community at Uluru) and support a number
of humanitarian and environmental charities.
Graham from Melbourne recently retired from the role of full-time
Honorary Consul-General for Ethiopia, responsible for official
Ethiopian matters in Australia and NZ. He runs a small business
promoting Ethiopian jewellery and artifacts, and Ethiopian Fair
Trade coffee. Graham went to Africa to teach in 1971, fell in love
with Ethiopia, and eventually returning to Australia to manage the
Oxfam/Community Aid Abroad programme in Africa for 15 years. Aid
dollars sharpened his eye for good people and programmes to support.
Graham believes that all good programmes should be strongly tied to
community capacity and vision, and in Tigray province, the wells
programme is an absolute stand-out, and a proven winner over
In July 2014 he took over as Honorary Manager of WellWishers, and
this task now occupies every spare moment. His commitment to a
village wells program in Ethiopia now spans 30 years.
Guy is barrister practising in Melbourne. He specialises in
immigration and refugee law. In the 1980s, Guy worked for
Community Aid Abroad (now Oxfam Australia), first in Sudan in 1985,
in a refugee camp with some 20,000 Tigrayans who were fleeing
persecution from the Mengistu regime, and later with emergency
programs in the Horn of Africa. As part of this later work he
travelled to Tigray to conduct food aid monitoring. He was
able to see the early shallow wells program first hand.