On my very first trip to Malawi, I learned of a farmer with albinism named Douglas. He went through the agriculture training the year before. I was told by the leaders at the school that they were concerned about the farmer after he returned to his home village. I learned that people in Malawi with albinism are treated poorly. There is a belief that the bones of these people are used in witch craft ceremonies. Body parts of these individuals are often sold for thousands of dollars. Attacks have happened on people – men, women and children – while they were sleeping. I was absolutely in shock. This had to be one of the most horrifying stories I had ever heard. Life in the village, actually anywhere in Malawi, was risky for them. They were always watching their back, and relied on their fellow villagers to look out for them too. There is constant fear that someone would be willing to do anything for money, so even amongst their own villagers, they never feel completely safe.
We asked what we could do to help out. We were told that a water well (bore hole) could potentially help him to be seen as a valuable contributor to his village. Without hesitation, we said we would pay for him to have a borehole, if we had to pay for it out of our own pockets. The thought of coming up with that much cash in a few months felt a little stressful, but we knew no matter what we would make it happen. We came home and shared the story and in a matter of 2 days had enough money to pay for the well.
Douglas invited me to bring my team to visit him on our next trip. It was an incredible experience to see how successful he had become.
Having the water well near his house made it possible for him to have a wonderful rotational garden that supplied his family with fresh vegetables all year. Having the well also made it easier for the entire village to access the clean water. Women and children would now collect the water they needed for their daily living from this new water well. This saved them many long trips to their prior water source, which was a very shallow, slow moving stream about 3 km from their house.
I check in to see how Douglas is doing every year, and am so happy he continues to do well.