ND Student's Epic Experience in Tanzania: "Water is Life"

Elly Lieppman in Tanzania with local children

An important principle of integrative medicine is the belief that all people deserve access to quality health care. Fourth year Naturopathic Medicine student Elly Lieppman strives to incorporate this belief, not just in the United States, but in her experiences with cultures abroad.

After months of consideration, Elly knew that EPIC would be a transformative experience she’d regret letting slip by.  EPIC (Everyday People Initiating Change) is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing clean water to villages in Tanzania.  Each year, participants apply for the opportunity to visit a village in rural Tanzania, where EPIC works to support positive community growth, simply by improving village access to water. Women and children carry jugs of water on their heads, sometimes for miles at a time. Each day revolves around getting water that makes the people sick.   

After months of fundraising, Lieppman and those in her group raised enough money to drill a well just steps away from the people who lived there. Sixteen hours of drilling and several tests later, the drillers confirmed the water’s safety and installed a hand pump.

A unique characteristic of EPIC is that each group has the opportunity to check in on other villages where clean water wells have already been drilled. Lieppman noticed how much the children in these villages were thriving at the sites where wells were established and well maintained.  She could see the changes - children were more robust and had more physical energy.  They weren’t getting sick due to contaminated water, which meant school cancellations decreased. Clean water meant that people were able to go to school and get jobs.

“It’s about breaking the cycle of poverty,” Lieppman said.

Before her time in Tanzania drew to a close, Lieppman gave a presentation at an event in the major Tanzanian city of Dar Es Salaam. The presentation took place at a conference called “Renew,” attended by mostly young leaders in university. The goal of the event was to motivate Tanzanian youth to break out of their comfort zones and initiate meaningful impacts on the world.  Lieppman spoke to them on the foundations of health for a successful life, as well as humans’ innate power to be the healers of our own bodies.  

“I loved being able to educate those abroad on the importance of health and self-care, two topics that are so ingrained in the education I’ve received at Bastyr. The foundations of health and self-care set us up for success in all aspects of life,” said Lieppman.  “Health is truly wealth.”

For more information on EPIC, visit their website at epicthemovement.org.