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Supporters' Corner

Special Friends: Margaret and Sophie's Trip

Margaret Trudeau and daughter-in-law Sophie Grégoire visit WaterCan’s Ethiopian projects.

Deo Binamungu

Margaret Trudeau and Sophie Grégoire in Ethiopia

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During the week of October 7-14, 2006, a group of intrepid travellers, including Margaret Trudeau, e-talk Daily’s Quebec correspondent Sophie Grégoire, WaterCan’s Program Director George Yap, WaterCan’s Executive Director Gary Pluim, Hello! Magazine’s Peter Bregg and a documentary film crew from CTV visited WaterCan’s Ethiopian projects. 

Over the course of the trip, lives were changed, life-long friends were made and a new perspective was gained about the water and sanitation crisis and what joint ventures like those between WaterCan and our overseas partners are doing to make a difference.


The documentary, produced by 90th Parallel Productions entitled “ A Window Opens: Margaret and Sophie in Ethiopia” aired on CTV on Saturday May 12th at 7:00 ET. For more information on the documentary, please click on the CTV logo.

For more information on the Toronto Addis Ababa Psychiatry Project – TAAPP, run out of University of Toronto, please visit  

Hello! Magazine

For more information on the related article in Hello! Magazine, which hit stands May 3, please click on the Hello logo.

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Give Water, Give Life
  • The trip begins. Margaret, Sophie and the team board a Canadian-made DH3 and head to visit WaterCan's partner Water Action, 450km northeast of Addis Ababa.
  • Margaret and Sophie arrive.
  • Sophie visits with a girl washing her clothes in the communal washbasins developed as part of a WaterCan project.
  • Margaret and Sophie pose in front of a water distribution point holding flowers given by community members. Gift giving is a proud Ethiopian tradition.
  • The Ethiopian landscape is mountainous and heavily cultivated. However, there has been little investment in the infrastructure necessary to protect and distribute existing water sources.
  • Margaret and WaterCan's Executive Director, Gary H. J. Pluim, sign a new project agreement with local partner Water Action as interested children look on.
  • At each project site, members of the study tour are always invited to participate in the Ethiopian coffee ceremony. Did you know coffee originated in Ethiopia?
  • A well digger is carefully lowered into a hand-dug well under construction. This hole is over 20m deep!
  • The study tour visits a borehole project with local partner OSRA. Here, Sophie and a local woman demonstrate use of a developed well.
  • Margaret and Sophie walk through a teff grain field, an Ethiopian staple used to make enjera, a fermented cake like bread served with most meals.
  • This photo shows the many ways in which unprotected water sources are used. Animals graze and drink, people drink and wash their clothes and no doubt bathe in this water source. Such behaviour results in the spread of water-related disease.
  • A rainwater tank waiting to be installed at a local primary school. Toilet facilities will also be built here.
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