Hermella Wondimu’s Digs Wells Full Time And She Started As A Student

President of Drop of Water and a Mandela Fellow This Young Woman is Really Making Waves And She Is Only Getting Started


When many of us think of water drilling projects in Ethiopia we think of large government tenders. We are reminded of the back pages of news like the Ethiopian Herald or Reporter Ethiopia. We may picture foreign experts traveling off road in rows of leased Toyota Land Cruisers.  Some may think of monotonous strategic planning meetings in Addis Ababa hotels conference rooms.

In this regard, Hermella Wondimu and her friends must have appeared quite extraordinary to their classmates’ teachers. After an inspirational experience, they vowed to build there first well as young Mekelle University students. At the time none of them had the means. 

Now in the early part of her life with a civil engineering, Hermella Wondimu has created 37 wells. Her recent appearance on the Seifu Show has led many to marvel at this young woman’s demonstration of grassroots volunteerism. Diretube brings you this amazing woman’s story, the source of her inspiration and her vision for the future. Below is Diretube list of inspiring things to know about Hermella Wondimu.


“So Matt Damon got you to start digging” Seifu Fantahun, during an interesting interview of Hermella Wondimu early March 2018.

When Matt Damon, the  American actor, and founder of Water.org the clean water NGO came to Mekele in 2009 Hermella and her friends were super-excited to meet him.

“I was a third-year student engineering student at Mekelle University,” Hermella begins. She and her school friends heard he was in town and were very happy to get a chance to meet him. When they asked about what he was doing in Northern Ethiopia. They learned about Water.org and its mission to provide clean water supply. In addition, they found out that Water.org was working in collaboration with a local NGO. To date they have supplied water to millions around the world.

Hermela summarizes her sentiments and those of her friends: “We were surprised because of this celebrity. He came from a distant place and he is helping our people, and we were not very aware at the time of the suffering of those in our area.”

Matt Damon himself was inspired in a rural area in Zambia, much earlier, by a conversation with a little girl who ‘lit a fire underneath him’ when she told him her future plans.  He wanted to help keep young girls like her from spending their days ‘scavenging for water.’, according to this The Guardian article.

After understanding the depth of the problem Hermella took an exceptional step. Her friends and she vowed to build their first well,  in her case, at least, while taking rigorous engineering courses.

Hermella and her other friends cut class, something they rarely did to see Matt Damon off at  Mekelle Airport. They never met him again after that. “He is someone that I really respect,” Hermella says. Although Matt Damon helped kick off her life of improving lives through clean water supply neither her nor any of her six partners in Drop of Water are in touch with him.

Hermella is originally from Harar where there is also a Water Problem

The situation around her school shocked her. People were drinking unclean water and even for that, they were grateful. Her resolve increased when she learned more about the problem. Even now, recent statistics show that 68% of the job of carrying water across Ethiopia rests on females.  Significantly, the Water.org website discloses that 61 Million Ethiopians do not have access to safe water. “Young girls do not spend their time getting educating and preparing for their lives, instead they are looking for water,” Hermela told Seifu Fantahun during her recent interview.


She submitted an official resignation from a high paying civil engineering job in Addis Ababa and began the Drop of Water Foundation

After considering her life plans Heremela decided to resign from her promising career as a civil engineer.  She was then primed to benefit from the booming Addis Ababa construction industry. Instead, she continued doing her part in digging wells and providing the clean water supply, something millions of Ethiopians are still in need of.

“The problem is very large.  I had to decide whether to continue in the civil engineering field or dedicate my self to this clean water,” Hermella Wondimu said.

Since becoming  President of Drop of Water  Hermella has turned the organization into a full-scale NGO. Their website has a ‘Sponsor a Borehole’ program and accepts donations. Their head office is on TK Building on Africa Avenue Road (Addis Ababa), and they have a branch office in Mekele.

Drop of Water Contact Page


Heremlla has Also Found Time to Become a 2015 Mandela Washington Fellow  

This Fellowship program was founded in 2014 and is for young African Leaders. It provides leadership, academic, and other training. It is open to people between the ages of 25 and 35 and has had participants from 48 countries across Sub-Saharan Ethiopian.


See Also: Mandela Washington Fellowship Official Page


Related: Meet the 2015 Mandela Fellows From Ethiopia

A Drop of Water’s Founder and President, Was Raised In a strict Household by a Pharmacist and Pediatrician.

Hermella Wondimu has told media in that past that she learned a lot of her life principles from her mother.  While she was growing up her mother instilled strong values in her, she told media.

She learned a lot from the generosity and ethnic diversity for which Ethiopia’s oldest city is world famous.

Additionally, water shortage and the associated problems were not new to her growing up.  This possibly further emboldens her to solve this serious problem that kills millions and makes life intractably difficult for countless others. 

See Also on Diretube: ETB 89 Million Era Dam Unable To Hold Water, Reserves Still Empty

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