Water - A Daily Struggle

Michael knew that young children and adults walking down to streams used by both animals and humans was wrong. The yellow containers were heavy and the water was polluted. The need for pure water and hygiene in Ethiopia is immense! 66% of the rural population has unimproved drinking water sources and 81% of the rural population has unimproved sanitation facilities.

Mud holes and rivers are contaminated with the feces of sick humans and animals. Bacteria like cholera, typhoid fever and hepatitis plus parasites causing diarrhea cause deaths. Many wells are broken and not used. Over 3 million annual deaths are water-related. Imagine carrying yellow containers for miles only to get sick!

He brought an Orange County water engineer to Ethiopia to test water, design water systems and locate underground water for future pure water wells. Michael and his water specialist walked, surveyed and marked five national regions and identified potential well sites. In addition, they developed plans to irrigate 400,000 hectares of agricultural land and provide pure water to about 500,000 citizens. These plans are ready for immediate implementation!

Funding is needed now!


Water polluted by animals, birds and humans                                                                  Inhabitants wait for water

From a very young age, girls are conditioned to carry water for their family

Taking Action

Public water distribution centers are working to supply drinking water but are limited in numbers, supply capacity, and water quality. The Water, Energy, and Mineral Bureau of Tigray recognized that there is fecal coliform present in both the spring and well water, > 1.0 MPN/100 mL which is unacceptable for drinking water.


New pure-water well                                                                                                                 Another new pure-water well

Funding for H.A.P.P.Y. will be used to hire contractors to successfully complete these water projects so the people of Ethiopia can live better and healthier lives. Water is the essence of all life.
Save lives. Please donate.

When Michael first returned to Tembien, he went from village to village to save orphans – some were found playing and living on destroyed military equipment. Some children were found living in trees by the river. Others were about to be abandoned by their own families since they could no longer afford to feed them. These are the children that Michael saved and recruited as the first class for his school. No longer would they study on dirt.

Children playing on helicopter wreckage

Michael built a school out of mud for immediate use, after finding teachers to help. He promised to return.

First class of students

After Michael sold his home and business, he returned. With the money from those sales, an orphan school for 2500 students was built and furnished in Tembien.

First concrete school built by H.A.P.P.Y.

A new reinforced concrete, stone, aluminum and tile school and orphan dormitory can be constructed for only $360,000!

Michael Belay's sister dying in childbirth as she "walked to a city" is a situation that happens daily for many rural families. Ethiopia has only 2 pediatric surgeons in a nation of 94,000,000 and 44% of the population is under 14 years old. It is unbelievable that hospital employees are washing bloody linens by hand when old hospital equipment breaks. H.A.P.P.Y. focuses on used ambulances to transport patients to the city since about 90% of the citizens are rural farmers.

The majority of farmers are small land owners and are extremely vulnerable to drought and other natural disasters. Households headed by women are much less likely than men to receive an education or health benefits, or to have a voice in decisions affecting their lives. For women, poverty means more infant deaths, undernourished families, lack of education for children and other deprivations.

Small farmers form the largest group of poor people in Ethiopia. Over half of them cultivate plots of 1 hectare or less and struggle to produce enough food to feed their households. A large number of poor households face a prolonged hunger season during the pre-harvest period. Herders, like farmers, are vulnerable to increasingly frequent drought, which can wipe out their livestock and bring on severe poverty.

The persistent lack of rainfall is a major factor in rural poverty. Drought has become more frequent and severe throughout the country over the past decade.

H.A.P.P.Y. can purchase a good used ambulance for about $40,000 and use an ocean container to ship it to Ethiopia via the port of Djibouti. We can seek medical supplies and used/excess equipment from Southern California hospitals for urgent care medical clinics.

Donated by Gerber Ambulance Service, Torrance, California for the Mekele Veterans Hospital