Ethiopia Trip Gets Brothers’ Goats

Jerry and John O’Connor are CRS supporters interested in water projects. After visiting Africa, their father suggested his boys see what he witnessed during his time in Africa. Jerry Stanton, CRS major gift officer, accompanied the O’Connors and sends this report:

A Day in the Diocese of Meki

Dawn arrived noisily in the Rift Valley. On January 13, 2009, donkeys and roosters announced to CRS supporters Jerry and John O’Connor their first day in Africa. The brothers, less than twenty-four hours removed from a good night’s sleep in a hotel in Dubai, came to Ethiopia for a short course in the role water plays in development. By nine o’clock they bounced in Land Cruisers towards a village that would provide them with not only their first lesson and a view of life as lived in extreme contrast to theirs in New York, but ironically, their day’s sustenance.


Boku had not entertained westerners since Italians visited in the thirties, so said the village elders. Who would want to travel to a place where the only water source is a muddy pond that turns into a dry hole six months of the year? Lesson one learned, people can endure amazing challenges.

“Unbelievable,” said John. “Unbelievable,” said Jerry.

Under the giant shade tree the villagers assembled and pleaded, “We have good soil here but most of our time is spent looking for water… we walk thirty kilometers to visit the doctor, but he always says the same thing, we have water borne diseases.” Just for listening, just for visiting, each of the O’Connors received a gift of a goat from the community.


Lesson two; people in this part of the world are not afraid to express their feelings. Upon arrival to Dallecha, the O’Connors found a community in near ecstasy. Both men and women were dancing in joy alongside a drill rig. A drill rig owned by the Ethiopian Catholic Secretariat, and partially funded by a CRS supporter known to Jerry and John. Water had been struck just that morning. Village life changed for the better before their very eyes.

“Unbelievable,” said Jerry. “Thank you,” said John, at the gift of two more goats.


In a village where a borehole was drilled and a community managed water point built less than a year ago, by CRS and its partners, the O’Connors learned lesson three: Clean water changes lives. Childhood diarrhea disappears virtually overnight. Women have more time for tending to children, and to the household. Children can devote more time to school, and to chores. Men can irrigate crops. Coats on animals turn bright and shiny. Water does not flow from household taps in Koyejajaba, it may never. People still walk to gather it. But it’s available. And it’s sweet, pure water.

A day with CRS; three villages, three lessons learned.

“Thank you,” said Jerry. “Thank you,” said John.

Night fell swiftly in the Rift Valley. Dinner was served. Accompanied by St. George beer, roasted goat went down easy. “Unbelievable.”

Jerry Stanton is the major gift officer for Connecticut and part of New York.

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One Response to “Ethiopia Trip Gets Brothers’ Goats”

  1. gretchen kennedy Says:

    thank you for your tireless energy and dedication to basic human needs worldwide.

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