Two Pomona College students are tackling the world’s water crisis, one bottle at a time.
Last summer, Anaa Jibicho PO ’23, Brian Bishop PO ’22 and Lamah Bility co-founded Didómi, a company that sells reusable water bottles. Double insulated and of high quality, these bottles are made by the same manufacturer as the Hydro Flask touted by many 5C students.
But unlike many of its competitors, at Didómi’s core is giving back. Every bottle provides 10 years of water access to a person affected by the water crisis.
Didómi donates 50 percent of its profits to WATERisLIFE, an organization that provides impoverished communities around the world with safe and accessible water sources. According to Jibicho, many of these communities’ water sources are contaminated because of discarded single-use plastics, making Didómi’s reusable bottles even more important.
“We think that what replaces the plastic bottles should also mitigate the effects that they have already caused,” Jibicho said. “We think that that’s restorative justice.”
More than 1.1 billion people lack access to water, and 2.4 billion people suffer from inadequate sanitation, according to the World Wildlife Fund. Bishop said the water crisis stunts the potentials of many children because they spend most of their time collecting water.
“Imagine if [that time] was spent with family, or at school, or pursuing their dreams,” Bishop said. “Those are the next doctors and lawyers and creative geniuses of the world. We’re missing out on their contributions.”
During their childhoods, both Jibicho and Bility experienced the effects of the water crisis firsthand, something which has motivated them to help improve the lives of people in similar situations.
“It’s super surreal to be able to provide help for the students who are in the same position that I used to be in.” —Anaa Jibicho PO ’23
When Bility was 8 years old and lived in Liberia, he had to walk five miles each day to collect water for his family, according to Jibicho. Meanwhile, Jibicho and his family suffered from political persecution in Ethiopia, making it difficult for them to access necessities like clean water. Two of Jibicho’s siblings died from waterborne illnesses.
“It was really tough for our family,” Jibicho said. “Pieces of the puzzle of our family were gone forever. We tried protesting in the only way possible, by not drinking the water. But you can only do that for three days. We had to drink water, eventually. And then I got sick. I was in the arms of my mother, just like my other two siblings. But lucky for me, I survived.”
To escape the growing persecution, Jibicho and his family moved to Kenya, then to the United States where Jibicho met Bility, a fellow refugee. In August 2019, Jibicho started his first semester…