Greetings from Malawi, the warm heart of Africa—living up to its nickname with the people and temperature! We’ve had the privilege to travel with like-minded ministry partners who helped make possible much of the COVID outreach in Malawi. There’s been so much impact and thankfulness from the communities. The needs can seem overwhelming, and many people here in rural communities are constantly living in survival mode. Yet, they smile and enjoy life in ways I think most Americans have a hard time understanding. The human suffering is here, but life goes on.
We were able to visit several communities where we conducted COVID outreach earlier this year. In some places we have LifePumps, and others need LifePumps. Our first stop was in Mtenje community, where a local pastor was preaching God’s word, and we heard multiple testimonies of how they appreciated the help to prevent COVID, and how their LifePump is changing everything. So many people stood up and passionately talked about how they were blessed and how their kids aren’t getting diarrhea, and how people have become Christians from when the pastor visited last time. Hundreds of people came to the event and were singing and dancing with such joy.
We also returned to Kayenda, which received a LifePump about two years ago, and it’s been working ever since. This is our highest-use LifePump in the world, which is used on average about 14 hours a day (it once peaked at 21 hours in a day), and since installation our LifePumpLink has shown the handles have turned over 55,000,000 times. This is incredible when thinking about how reliable technology is important, and how this sort of use requires high-performance engineering. There were also many testimonies from this community of approximately 2000 people. Recently, another Nongovernmental Organization (NGO) installed an electric pump system nearby, and yet the pump still gets 14 hours of use a day because that system runs dry and doesn’t provide enough water. Pastor James, a local pastor who was preaching, engaged the community and they were so receptive to the Gospel. Many people raised their hands, giving their lives to Christ.
We had the opportunity to install a new LifePump in the community of Mkando, which was a retrofit for an Afridev that has been broken a long time. A local evangelical organization was on location and shared the Gospel and the community had so much fun. A local health worker trained the community on how to wash hands and prevent COVID. The LifePump was installed without any issue and the community burst into singing and dancing. Moments like these are so amazing since we all get to be God’s hands and feet in a dry, hard land. And it also underlines the tremendous need for reliable technology that people can count on, day after day.
In our scaling up of LifePump in Malawi, we met with a couple NGOs and a funding organization, which are making plans to include LifePump in their future year’s budgets. It’s a slow process, but we’re seeing an inflection point of LifePump use in places where other technologies fail to meet the needs. We estimate about 2000 LifePumps are needed in Malawi alone, based on depth and community sizes. We feel God has given us the vision to see 1000 LifePumps installed globally by the end of 2024, with the majority concentration in Malawi. As part of that scale up, we started implementing new tools our engineering teams have created for reporting and tracking, which is making our field staff’s jobs easier and provides more efficient tracking of projects for our financial partners. Part of that was training on our new community assessment tools, and to do so, we visited a couple communities with a water crisis, namely the communities of Chirombo and Matchakaza.
Both Chirombo and Matchakaza once had working Afridevs that are now broken, and the one in Matchakaza has been broken for over a month now, right in the middle of the driest and hottest time of year. We talked with the headman of Matchakaza, and they have paid for repairs on their Afridev many times, but the funds are too little to fix it this time. We are planning to follow up to determine if a LifePump retrofit is suitable. In Chirombo, we visited where they get water from an open dug well, which is a big hole in the ground. The water is visibly contaminated, and people were drinking straight from their buckets. We were told that sometimes trouble-making neighbors will put dead animals—like a dead dog—in the water to “poison it”. When that happens, they remove all the water and when it fills back up return to drinking it. There’s not enough volume of water, so we were told there are sometimes skirmishes between the women very early in the morning to be first in line before the water runs out. I’ve seen and heard many similar stories, but we should never become callous to this reality facing millions of people in our world today. We have the knowledge and resources to help transform such communities, and I pray we can do it very soon, before it’s too late.
The next couple days will be spent on strategic planning with our Malawi and Zambia teams all together. Please continue praying for our teams here, as they work tirelessly on a daily basis, and that we can reach the 1000 communities that God has laid on our hearts.