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2024 International Women’s Day: From Walking for Water to Saving Lives With Safe Water

In honor of the United Nations International Women’s Day, we are publishing this story from the Water Mission 2024 Spring Newsletter early, on March 8, 2024. This International Women’s Day theme is Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress. According to the UN: 

In 80% of households with water shortages, women and girls are responsible for water collection. This often means traveling long distances and carrying heavy loads, in some cases with a high risk of violence. The time required can pull girls out of school and leave women with fewer options to earn an income.


Wongani Msiska was part of this 80% while growing up in a small community in Malawi. Now, Wongani is part of Water Mission’s team in Malawi helping to save other women and girls from this fate and accelerating progress that can only happen with access to clean, safe water. 

Read on to hear Wongani’s story of faith and courage as she went from walking for water to removing this burden from others. 


Be Courageous and Show God’s Love

By Wongani Msiska, Water Mission Malawi Community Development Coordinator 

My childhood taught me to work hard, be courageous, and above all, draw close to God.   

My mother passed away when I was three years old, so I attended eight different schools, changing schools depending on which relative was raising me at the time. Growing up in a village, I know what it means to lack safe water. I used to walk long distances to find water, and that water often made me sick. I saw handpumps break but could not raise my voice [about it] because I was young. I had low self-esteem until I received Jesus Christ as my Lord and personal Savior at age 14. Then I began to tell myself, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13) and “with God all things are possible” (Mathew 19:26). These two verses still sustain me.  

Water Mission placed me in a position to engage communities, government stakeholders, and other partners to build safe water solutions. Seeing people access safe water and take responsibility for sustaining a project is fulfilling. Water Mission reaches last-mile populations and gives hope to the hopeless. But it all starts with nurturing staff to know God [and] then sending them out to proclaim the gospel and demonstrate His love.  

Celebrating with residents of Mankhaka Dwangwa as safe water flows to the community for the first time.

Showing love, excellence, and integrity in our work speaks loudly about Water Mission and glorifies God. One example is Water Mission’s disaster response following the 2015 flooding in southern Malawi. Many people lost their lives, family members, and property. Infrastructure like roads and water systems were destroyed. Internally displaced people were lying helpless in camps without access to safe water. We had to help people, despite the challenges.  

“All people having safe water and the opportunity to experience God’s love is an exceptional vision.” — Wongani Msiska, Community Development Coordinator, Water Mission Malawi

We needed to conduct a rapid assessment, but the roads were impassable. The only way to reach the people in need was to rent bicycles and travel 25 kilometers (15 miles)—all while holding water testing kits in our hands! In some areas, we took boats through crocodile-infested flood waters. But in the end, Water Mission installed 17 water systems and served 40,000 displaced people. I learned that responding to a disaster requires total sacrifice. It is a demonstration of love for the most vulnerable people to deny your own comfort, take risks, and do whatever it takes to save lives. 

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