DO Diaries: Day Seven

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Greetings from Malawi! Yesterday I had the opportunity to revisit Chikwangwala community after six months of the LifePump being installed. We had a few purposes to visit, including filming a new, short documentary-style video highlighting the before and after story of a girl named Cecilia, which we’re so excited to share once ready. Also, we were checking up on our COVID-19 outreach and joined an event conducted by Africa Enterprises.

Driving in, there were already a couple hundred people, mostly kids, waiting for our arrival. Beatrice and our Malawian filmmaker started working right away and talked with some girls in the community to see who would like to participate. After receiving written consent, we started with Cecilia’s story, showing what life was like before LifePump getting water from the river, and now what life is like afterwards with her friends and family. Cecilia showed us her home and various aspects of the community. Going inside of her one-room house is a good reminder of how life is different here compared to our lives in the US. She sleeps on the floor without any mattress and uses a grain sack to cover up as a blanket. The home is dark, and so people don’t do much inside except sleep at night. There are hyenas that come out at night and are known to enter homes, and so there is a wooden door. Some other homes only have a cloth covering up the door for a bit of privacy, which isn’t much protection from hyenas. Most families have a few, small, one-room homes – one for girls, one for boys, and one for parents to sleep in. The roofs are covered with local grass with a sheet of plastic to try and keep out water, which would be mildly effective. Life in Malawi is hard.

It was powerful walking with Cecilia (and half the community that was curious) to see the river where a lady was attacked by a crocodile last December, and in this community a small boy sadly had the same fate. Knowing now that hope and a future are possible is such a rewarding feeling. I had a cell phone signal in the community and pulled up in real time the LifePumpLink usage, which was about 3 hours per day – a normal amount of pumping for this size community. We even saw the beginnings of a new garden next to the LifePump and expect that in six months, vegetables will abound. There are so many communities just like Chikwangwala that need LifePumps in Malawi, and we appreciate your partnership in helping to make this a reality.

We were pleased to see the hand-washing station being used and many community members wearing masks (mostly older adults). COVID has gotten worse in Malawi since last December, and people in general are much more aware of the virus due to many efforts like ours. Behavior change is hard even in the US, and so I was encouraged that the messaging is resonating.

We were privileged to witness a pastor from Africa Enterprises share the Gospel, in English and translated into Chichewa (the local language). Many people gave their lives to Christ and Africa Enterprises passed out booklets with God’s Word. Praise the Lord! The pastor encouraged community members to connect with a local church if they are not already. He used the message from the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16) to connect the need for living water through Jesus. It was very powerful.

We are seeing increased demand and need for LifePumps in Malawi. Last night we met with the technical leader of Water AID, one of the largest water NGOs in the world, and they are very interested in LifePump and plan to start a pilot this month.

Today we started off as usual with morning devotions and have been going through all of the mentions of water in the Bible. There are nearly 500 mentions – going from the flood, parting of the sea, Jesus walking on water, baptism, washing away of sins, foot washing, Lazarus and the rich man, water to wine, woman at the well, and more.Our bodies are made up mostly of water and so is the Earth…so the only conclusion is that water is important to humans as well as to God. What a great reminder of how we’re bringing safe and reliable water in a way that’s not been done before. We’re continuing to be the voice of the voiceless; we advocate that the only standard should be water every day. Unfortunately, we continue meeting resistance from some NGOs who are settling for water “most of the time.” This means that one or two months a year a community has no safe water within reach. Such a situation sets a community back from any gains. Sickness comes back, animals die, plants die, kids are pulled from school, dangers such as crocodile attacks are a real thing. What an amazing, privileged life we get to live in the US, and we get to help make a huge difference in lives in Malawi too. There is so much more to do but we’re making progress with God’s help.

After devotions, we started off to check on immigration requirements for Hugo and Bre, our first US staff members to move to another country, which is an exciting opportunity. We were expecting that to take hours, but it was a short meeting. And then we checked on another furniture store, as we’re planning out how to set up the guest house. The furniture is from an importer that ships from China and is very expensive, so I think we’ll go back to the local artisans and support local Malawians. We then headed to the Southern Region, where we were to have an all-day planning meeting with our Malawi team. The drive took about four hours, and heading into Cape Maclear (the meeting location) was a very steep and windy road down. Our lodge was on an island in Lake Malawi – basically a primitive camping area. We stayed in tents made of bamboo, and there is no electricity, cell signal, or running water. Life in Malawi isn’t for everyone, but I loved it. Sometimes I think that God was preparing me for this role way back when I was working to become an Eagle Scout.

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