Experience an Ethiopian Clean Water Project in Virtual Reality

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By DJ Pangburn

In the Western world, clean water is taken as a given. With corporations buying up American communities’ water rights, and Flint, Michigan’s lead-contaminated water supply crisis, perhaps it shouldn’t be. But in parts of the African continent, and elsewhere around the world, clean water is an everyday crisis, as it is in a northern Ethiopian community profiled in the new virtual reality experience “The Source,” viewable on the Vrse app. Produced by Vrse.works, which specializes in collaborative spherical filmmaking experiences, “The Source” is a short VR video that follows a 13-year-old Ethiopian girl named Selam as she attempts to balance the daily fetching of clean water with her education.

And Selam is just one of many millions in a similar situation. According to charity: water, a clean-water nonprofit (which coproduced the film), there are 663 million people on the planet without simple access to clean water. Directed by Vrse’s Imraan Ismail, and premiering on World Water Day, “The Source” explores what it’s like when clean water is brought to a community that hadn’t previously benefitted from it. In Selam's community, charity: water dug a closed well down into the deep-lying, clean groundwater. (Selam’s community is just one of charity: water’s 19,819 water projects in 24 countries, which bring clean water to 6.1 million people.)

“This story is representative of the work taking place in Ethiopia on a daily basis,” Melissa Burmester, director of production at charity: water, tells GOOD. “And Selam and her family were willing to put up with our cameras for a week. It was an honor to be able to share their story.”

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