Information Book

About Wine To Water

Wine To Water’s US staff, although small in number, shares a huge passion for bringing clean water to folks in need. Our passion unites us and brings us joy as we work with our local partners on the ground. Wine To Water has worked in 25 countries, 11 of which are ongoing projects, and have provided clean water to over 500,000 people since our inception. We find it a privilege to currently work in 5 regions (The Amazon, Dominican Republic/Haiti, Ethiopia, Nepal and Cambodia) to support over 30 international aid workers on 4 continents, as we all work hard to fight this epidemic together.

Our Mission

Wine To Water is committed to serving in community to provide water to those in need.

What We Do

Each project is unique, but the common theme is that we use local people in each country. We develop leaders in the community and educate them on proper water and sanitation methods to promote sustainability. Our work empowers the local community to help them meet their ongoing needs.


in our work is ensuring that the proper type of water system is used for each specific community.

Our methods include shallow & deep wells, well repairs, ceramic water filters, bio-sand filters, Sawyer filters, and rain-water harvest tanks.

We also improve sanitation using latrine and hygiene education.

We use local materials whenever possible.

We monitor and report on all our projects.

We are constantly developing our programs and striving for more efficient systems.

We have water projects in 25 countries

Belize, Costa Rica, Democratic Republic of Congo, Dominican Republic, Cambodia, Colombia, Brazil, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Kenya, Nepal, Peru, Philippines, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Uganda, United States, Vietnam, Zimbabwe

How We Began

Doc Hendley is the founder and international president of Wine To Water. In 2003 he dreamed up the concept of the organization while bartending and playing music in nightclubs around Raleigh, North Carolina. The first fundraiser was held in January of 2004 and by August of that year, Doc was living in Darfur, Sudan installing water systems for victims of the government supporting genocide. When Doc returned home in August of 2005, the haunting memories of what he had seen in Darfur drove him to continue building the organization he had started two years earlier.

In 2007, Wine To Water became an official 501(c)3 non-profit. In 2009, Doc and the work of the Wine To Water team was recognized by the CNN Heros program, launching the organization’s efforts globally. Doc’s dream, and the goal of Wine To Water, is to quench the thirst of those in need.

(From Left to Right: Doc Hendley, Shane Hillman, David Cuthbert, Madi Barker, Lisa Merritt, Josh Elliott, and Katy Cook)

Meet the Wine To Water Team

Doc Hendley

As a student trying to find his calling, Doc learned about the global water crisis while balancing his studies with bar-tending in Raleigh, NC. Captured by the cause, he decided to take action the way he knew best: pouring drinks and playing music for a benefit event. After the surprisingly large success of his first event, Doc found himself in the heart of the Darfur war conflict in 2004 serving to provide water to those in desperate need.

Upon returning to the US, Wine To Water was born in Boone, NC. Since his initial efforts, Doc has traveled around the world helping combat the water crisis, impacting both our local communities and those abroad. He is relentless in his pursuit to ensure clean water to those in need.

David Cuthbert

David is a former Navy Special Operations Officer and currently serves as the CEO. He joined WTW in September 2014, inspired by its team and purpose to serve others. He loves to be a part of a team committed to doing something great.

Lisa Merritt

Lisa currently lives in Raleigh, NC and serves as the Director of Volunteer Programs. She has been coordinating volunteers internationally since 2005 and is passionate about connecting people to service opportunities around the world, while exposing them to the global water crisis.

Josh Elliott

Josh began volunteering with Wine To Water as a student in 2009. He started the first WTW student club​ ​at Appalachian State University. Today, he​ ​serves as the International Operations Director and ​insures that all ​of our ​projects ​are implemented in an empowering way. ​​He is dedicated to​ ​building the Wine To Water community, sharing our​ ​story, helping folks in need, and riding his Harley as​ ​much as possible while doing it.

Katy Cook

Katy is a native to Boone, NC and graduated from Appalachian State University with a degree in Public Relations, Nonprofit Management. She first began volunteering with Wine To Water in high school and is one of our longest-serving supporters. With a passion to organize and create efficient systems, she came on staff in April 2015 as the Administrative Director.

Madi Barker

After interning as the Operations Intern during her final semester at Appalachian State University, Madi accepted the offer to come on board as the Development Manager. She works primarily to empower our professional chapters across the country to engage their communities in serving those in need. She is passionate about understanding others and finding ways to connect people’s strengths and skills to transform lives with clean water.

Shane Hillman

Shane started working with Wine To Water in the fall of 2015 as the Program Development Manager. In addition to helping maintain international operations, Shane is our personal chocolatier and loves making healthy, organic Community Well chocolate to raise funds for water projects.

Sarah Herbert

Sarah first heard about Wine To Water as a college student at Appalachian State University. After graduating, she kept tabs on the organization, and when she ended up back in Boone years later working at ASU as an office manager, she got in contact with the volunteer director, Lisa Merritt, asking how to get involved. After interning for a year with the volunteer program on top of working her full time job, Sarah made the move to join WTW full time as the Intern Coordinator. She has a passion for helping others succeed in what they are doing and enjoys using her organizational skills and love for college students to fight the water crisis.

Tina Owen

Tina has worked with incredible non-profits around the globe and in North Carolina. She recently volunteered in the Dominican Republic with Wine To Water for five months as part of a family sabbatical with her husband and three teenage children. Having lived in rural Africa, Central America, and the Dominican Republic; she is passionate about building partnerships and leveraging resources so together we can be part of community transformation in our own neighborhoods and around the world. She now serves as the Director of Grants and Fund Development for Wine To Water.

Kaylie Kushmer

Kaylie was born and spent the majority of her life in Tampa, FL and found out about Wine To Water through a Just One Shift event there. She served in the Amazon with WTW in the fall of 2014 and her heart and global perspective was forever changed. She created the Tampa chapter of WTW in March of 2015, took another volunteer trip to the Dominican Republic in October of 2015 and has held fundraisers to support the clean water missions. With a very diverse background focused on building relationships, she has recently come on board the WTW staff as the Volunteer Program Coordinator. She will be leading trips into the field as she helps grow this integral part of the organization.

The Global Water CrisisOut of the 6.7 billion people on earth, 2.4 billion lack access to basic sanitation and 663 million lack access to clean water. Every 20 seconds a child dies of a waterborne illness and 443 million school days are lost each year from water related illnesses.

Since 2004, Wine To Water has provided over 500,000 people with access to clean water.

Geographic Info: Ethiopia

Capital: Addis Ababa

Population: approx. 100 million

Currency: Birr

Religion: Predominantly Islam and Ethiopian Orthodox

Government Structure: Parliamentary Republic

Total GDP: $47.53 billion

Per Capita: $505.05

Official Language: Amharic

Popular Sports: Soccer (Football)

Staple Foods: Injera (beef, goat, lamb, fish or hard-boiled eggs, and vegetable stew)

Major Exports: coffee, oily seeds

Major Imports: Petroleum

Meet the Water Is Life Team:

Kebede Fekede, Chief Hydrogeologist

Kebby earned his geology degree from Addis Ababa University. He is a highly respected hydrogeologist and coordinates all the technical work for WiLi. He lives in Addis with his wife and three children.

Ashenafi Sruwa, Sustainable Living Team Coordinator

Ashenafi was the first community facilitator starting in 2002 for the Sustainable Living Team (SLT) movement. He coordinates all SLT training and implementation as well as the Disaster Risk Reduction program for WiLi. He resides in Addis with his wife and three children.

Yared Sisay, Chief Driller

Yared has been with WiLi since the beginning in 2006. Yared is responsible for well construction and rehabilitations. He lives with his wife and daughter in Awassa.

Merrie and David Harding, Co-Founders of Water is Life International

Merrie is a physical and occupational therapist and David is a water engineer. They lived in Jordan for five years before beginning work in Ethiopia in 2002.

Typical Schedule

Day 1

PM: Arrive and Team Orientation

Day 2

AM: Travel to Langano
PM: Meet Sustainable Living Team and well sites

Day 3

AM:Travel to Awassa
PM: Drill in Wando

Day 4

AM: Work at Drill Site 1
PM: Construct Pad Site

Day 5

AM: More work at Drill Site 1 
PM: Work at Rehab Well, Travel to Yirgalem to feed Hyenas and partake in a coffee ceremony

Day 6

AM: Orphanage, More Well Rehab
PM: Travel to Lake Langano

Day 7

AM: Debrief
PM: Return to Addis Ababa

Day 8

AM: Shopping and Sightseeing
PM: Depart

Frequently Asked Questions

What should a team pack?
Light jacket, work clothes, and shoes that will get very muddy. Shorts, works gloves, casual clothes, a swimsuit, insect repellent, sunscreen, hat, passport, snacks, and a flashlight. Anti malarial medication is also recommended. All bedding and towels are provided.

What airport should we fly into?
Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa (ADD)

Is there a dress code?
For women: No shorts, pants, or sleeveless tops in villages. For men: No shorts in villages

Is there an age requirement?
You are required to be age 18 or older to go to Ethiopia.

Will a children’s program need to be prepared?
No formal children’s program- just play soccer, volleyball, jump rope, polish nails. Can bring small quantities of stickers, balls, etc to leave with village leaders. We do not give handouts personally.

Do we need a visa to enter your country?
Tourists visas can be obtained on arrival for $50USD - cash only.

What is the recommended group size?
The recommended group size is 5.

What are the living conditions like?
There will be comfortably sized shared rooms with beds and shared toilets. There is electricity in Langano or Yirgalem, but no internet.

What vaccinations and medications are needed?
We recommend that you check the website and check with your doctor (ideally 4–6 weeks before departure) for any personal medications, letting them know where and when you will be traveling.

Required Vaccinations and Medications:
-Yellow Fever - bring record of vaccination

Recommendations for other medications:
-Diarrhea/Stomach medication
-Anything for dehydration

What is the weather like?
We encourage all volunteers to check the weather before departing, however, Ethiopia is in a tropical zone, and in the lowlands it can get really hot with humidity. It should be the dry season but with El Niño the weather can be unpredictable. The early morning and late evenings are cooler so bring a light jacket.

What will meals be like?
Ethiopian food is generally spicy. There will be a lot of vegetables at meals and the traditional food Injera.

Will there be snacks to purchase?
There will be peanuts, candy bars, and grain snacks for purchase.

Is there a way to contact the US?
We encourage all volunteers to “unplug” as much as possible while serving on trips. Even if internet is available, we ask that you limit the amount of time you spend online in order to fully engage in the experience. There is internet available in parts of Ethiopia. The site leaders will have cell-phones for any emergencies.

Are the electrical outlets the same as they are in the US?
The outlets used are 220V with two round plugs, so an adapter and converter is required. In order to conserve the amount of electricity used, we ask that volunteers leave hair dryers, straightening irons, etc. at home.

What type of payment are accepted in country?
Bring cash in newer bills (year 2000 and newer). Cash is the best form of payment as there will be limited credited card use, with a credit card fee. The currency in Ethiopia is the Birr, and the exchange rate is 22 Birr for one US dollar.

What can a team bring to donate?
The ground team will send a wish list to Wine To Water periodically. Please send an email for an updated list. WTW Ethiopia normally does not distribute donations, but anything left over can be given to a third party organization that will then distribute the donations.

Are there any restrictions?
We ask that you refrain from drinking and smoking in the villages. And we discourage sharing emails and phone numbers with villagers.

Volunteer Opportunities

When you sign up as a volunteer in Ethiopia, you will get to participate in hand percussion well drilling, pump installation and broken pump repair. In addition to that you will visit an orphanage and get to play soccer with the kids. This is a life changing experience you, as well as the communities you serve. We hope you will join us as in this amazing opportunity.

Contact Info

Wine To Water

Lisa Merritt
Volunteer Programs Director
770.851.4132 (US Cell)

David Cuthbert
747 West King Street, Suite #200
Boone, NC 28607 USA

Kaylie Kushmer
Volunteer Programs Coordinator
813.468.7585 (US Cell)

Water is Life: Ethiopia

David Harding
Co-founder, Water is Life: Ethiopia 
+251.989989650 (Ethiopia)

SIM Guesthouse, opposite Black Lion Hospital