I have always known my family uses a lot of water every day, and for many years I took that for granted. Everyone has water, or so I thought. Before I went to Malawi, we would spend many weeks every year camping. When our family of 6 would go camping, I was constantly reminding them to not waste water. I wasn’t worried we would run out, sadly, I was more concerned with the amount of time it would take me to refill the water tank on my RV. We would have to take our ATV’s halfway down the canyon with our 20 gallon barrels to the water pump and then drive it back up to the RV to refill the tank with an electric pump. It would take us a couple of hours and we would have to repeat the process about every 4 days. It is painful to admit that. After going to Malawi, I gained so much appreciation for water and the work others go through to even have access to it. It was a really good feeling to sell those great toys and purchase water wells for villagers who desperately needed clean water.
I have seen a variety of water sources in Malawi. These range from a hand dug well, a stream or river and drilled water wells.
The women and girls are generally tasked with getting the water. Sometimes girls are pulled from attending school so they can stay at home and complete the task. They will walk often over a mile and carry the water home in a bucket, only to be sent back for another. This is a daily task, and usually multiple trips each day.
Drilling a well is out of reach for most villagers …they live day to day, hand to mouth, and rarely have enough money saved to drill a well. We love being able to provide wells for villages we visit. We make drilling a well a partnership by not drilling the well until the village has gathered the sand, quarry and bricks. Once they have gathered the materials and molded the bricks, we schedule the drill. Their hard work pays off and as a village, they get to reap the reward of having clean water more easily accessible. A well will usually provide water for about 2000 people.
Visiting with the families after the well is one of celebration., singing and dancing. Villagers from all around join in the celebration to share their appreciation for the gift. We leave with a longing to return to the place where we witnessed the blessing of clean water.