I settle in at my desk, sip my steaming coffee and fire up the computer. Signing into my emails, I scroll through until I notice one from a partner in the field, Ina. She’s been in Malawi for a few days, amidst the disaster left behind after severe flooding, and sounds cheerful. It’s a good testament to the hope we find in being able to provide safe water to those who are hurting. We don’t see it as an impossible crisis but rather a chance to do what we do best, serve safe water. Ina is from Germany and spent a week on the ground being our eyes and ears during the flooding in Malawi. The stories she tells are hard to hear but encourage us to fight even harder, to believe even deeper that hope can be restored.
“There’s a reason why they call it the warm heart of Africa! It’s such a beautiful country with even more beautiful people,” she says as she starts describing all she experienced. She spent a few days touring around the districts of Nsanje and Chikwawa seeing where Water Missions International is hard at work bringing safe water.
“We visited one big camp, about 4,000 people, and you could really see the need the people have. There were old people and mothers with their newborn babies just sitting around, kids searching for shade in the hot weather and lots of strong, young people with nothing to do but wait.”
“Then we came to one of the camp sites where Water Missions supplies safe water and all the people were so thankful. They came to us, shaking our hands and showed us, very proudly, their water systems.” She goes on to tell how they are even using the safe water to clean their food and how joyful everyone was because they know the impact this simple act has on things like fighting the outbreak of disease. It’s the little things like rinsing the jerry cans out before filling them up that makes a huge difference. In disasters like this flooding, people come from all over since the water treatment systems are sometimes the only source of safe water.
“Most of the people are kids who come to collect water. They fill up their jerry cans and carry it back on their bikes. They are so tough.” The Malawi staff have spent the past two months working tirelessly and yet the work is nowhere near complete. Ina expresses the incomparable perseverance of the team when she says “they work in the field for weeks, 24/7, and they still have the will and the passion to continue their work to help more people in need.” “Most of the water from normal hand pumps will make us ill, but Water Missions’ water is water we can drink, which shows the really good quality.”
The fight isn’t over, and I’m reminded of that as I read her words, “now the water goes back but there is still a strong need for safe water.” One of the most incredible parts of what Water Missions is doing through the disaster involves sustainability. Not only is Water Missions responding quickly with safe water – there are currently eight safe water systems serving upwards of 40,000 people and nine additional sites are in the process of being installed – but WMI is responding in such a way as to transition these disaster systems into long-term community managed systems. We are helping to solve the present disaster and creating a solution that will last for generations to come. Everything WMI does today helps not only the people hurt by the flooding but also their children and their children’s children.
The realization that together we are impacting an entire world of people who don’t even exist yet causes me to sit back in my chair and take a deep breath. It really is amazing the power that safe water has: to give life and a future. As Ina closes out her email I cannot help but be thankful to have a small part in this work. And so I will pass her story and her greetings on to you so that you too may know and believe the impact your generosity is having around the world.
“Again, warm regards from Malawi and all the best for you!”