WaterAid ambassadors and well-known supporters are sharing their inspiring moments of togetherness and kindness from the year and encouraging the public to do the same to stand in solidarity with communities like Frat, in Ethiopia, where collaboration is part of their ethos as they help each other face daily challenges, such as a lack of clean water.
BBC1’s Casualty actress Amanda Mealing, comedian Bec Hill, singer KT Tunstall, and Paralympic champion swimmer Ellie Simmonds are joining WaterAid’s campaign in support of its Future on Tap appeal, which aims to help transform lives with clean water in Ethiopia and around the world. Until 4 February 2021, the UK government will match public donations up to £2 million, to make double the difference in climate-vulnerable communities.
For the people of Frat in Western Ethiopia, togetherness is a way of life. They call it ‘wenfell’, meaning ‘collaboration’. Through women’s groups, student clubs and just by being good neighbours, people try to help solve any problems someone may face. They share knowledge and resources, collect money for families in need, give people water when they are unable to go to the river to get it, and help on each other’s farms.
WaterAid’s celebrity supporters are inviting the UK public to join them in sharing their own stories of hope, humanity and acts of everyday community spirit that emerged during the pandemic, as part of WaterAid’s #WenfellMoment campaign, in unity with people in Frat.
Amanda’s wenfell moment came when she asked for help with material to make masks. She said: “I started making face masks in return for donations to help provide food parcels to families in need. I had to ask for people to donate extra material for the masks and was bowled over with the response I received – such generosity! Thanks to them, I was able to make hundreds of masks and with everyone’s kind donations, raised over £7,000 for CARE. There are so many beautiful people in our communities and it’s really important we look after each other. I love that in Frat, it’s a way of life, called ‘wenfell’.
“It makes me think about the positives that have come out of this dreadful pandemic. It’s incredible how people have really come together. I hope that these ‘wenfell’ moments continue, so we can live in a far more harmonious way.”
KT Tunstall has supported WaterAid throughout the pandemic, performing in their Bathrooms Sessions series and virtual Christmas concert, as well as releasing a single ‘Wash Ya Hands’ with support from her fans to raise money for the charity. She said: “The pandemic has brought us together in unexpected ways and shown us the importance of community. I absolutely loved seeing a video of a little girl who would run to the window every morning so she could dance with their postman. For months, they danced together, her inside, him outside, to imaginary music. All the while, you could see her growing up. It‘s lovely to think that she will remember this for the rest of her life; a joyful and meaningful connection with a stranger that I’m sure will turn into a real friendship. It’s so great we can support each other during these challenging times, which is why I’m supporting WaterAid’s appeal to help bring water to Frat and other communities.”
Comedian, actor, writer and presenter Bec Hill, created her very own wenfell moment to raise funds WaterAid’s hygiene appeal this summer. She explained: “I asked my fans to ‘sponsor’ a square on a plain t-shirt. They could request a name, logo or picture to go into their square, which I then drew on by hand, in marker pen. People paid £10 per square – lots of people bought multiples – and in total, the T shirt raised £5,000 to help WaterAid bring clean water and handwashing facilities to people across the globe. Loads more people shared the campaign on social media and told their friends about it. I couldn’t believe that we filled all 500 squares, I was totally blown away by people’s generosity.
“The final t-shirt shows how powerful collaboration can be; it’s a colourful collage of so many different things, each one representing someone who cared enough to donate. I love the idea of a word for this kind of collaboration, and harnesses the spirit of coming together to help out, I might start saying ‘wenfell’!”
Bec wore her £5000 T-shirt on Jonathan Ross’ Comedy Club on ITV, to raise even more awareness around the project. Olympic gold medal winner, Ellie Simmonds, shared her inspirational moments from the year to support WaterAid’s campaign. She said: “This year has reminded us of the importance for caring for each other. From the start of lockdown, everyone got behind the NHS, regardless of who they were. I feel it brought the nation together in a special way, even though we’ve been able to spend less time with friends and family. We all have an ability to unite during momentous events - good or bad. It reminded me of the spirit of the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics when it felt like the whole country came together as one positive force supporting the competitors and willing us all to do well. In a similar way, it gave me such a lift to see all the children’s rainbows in the windows during the lockdown earlier this year. It’s never been more important to be kind to each other.
“As a WaterAid ambassador, I’ve seen for myself the impact dirty water has on people’s lives and livelihoods. Clean water helps build a better future. The families of Frat are already helping each other, and by supporting the Future on Tap appeal, we can stand with them and help WaterAid to bring clean water, toilets and hygiene that transforms lives.”
Families in Frat spend hours each day collecting water from a river, which is so dirty it causes sickness. Some water sources are depleting over time, while the hotter summers and unexpected storms are destroying crops, their only source of income.
WaterAid will bring clean water to many communities like Frat, helping protect lives and livelihoods.
With clean water, families can meet their basic needs, stay safe and healthy, have time to go to school or work, and can grow food even when the weather is unpredictable.