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Village near Mponela well

From and to the airport

Volunteering at wellsforzoë meant getting involved in the factory on the one hand,but on the other hand sometimes trying not to and see it as the outsider – or Muzungu (what kids sometimes shout when they see a white person they do not know yet) – that of course I am. With the goal to document the work of wellsforzoë and as well to see how it actually is to live in the circumstances in Malawi in the everyday-life.


So on the way back from driving Cristina to the airport to Lilongwe – as she had to leave earlier than me – I had my camera and my drone on the passenger seat with the goal to take as many photos and videos of things you would not even know about as a european…


Passing by one village the light was great and I stopped near the roadside and took some aerial photographs. Seeing the live-image on the screen of the remote controller I saw the village well and having worked on the wellsforzoë pump for weeks I was interested to see which pump they used. I flew closer and then I saw a rope and a bucket… the pump was gone and the slab was only covering two thirds of the well.


By then, the villagers had finally spotted that the car parking 300m down the road had to have something to do with the drone flying over the village and about 50 people ran to the car with huuuuge excitement. So I returned the drone back and showed them some functions. They loved seeing it!


Then I tried to find out what had happened with their well… But none of them could even speak the smallest amount of English. So I asked for the chief… long story short: After driving to the village they asked a guy on his bicycle from the road to translate for us. It turns out the pump was a government-installed-pump. It broke about a year ago and as it can be simply removed with 4 hex-nuts it got stolen for scrap-parts. So what that meant for the villagers was no safe drinking water; no protection against cholera-outbreaks in the rainy season. And a few days before that some small kid apparently nearly fell in the well.


I asked them if they had land for forestry and the chief and ‘translator’ and 20 kids 🙂 showed me that they have 1.5 hectare of unused land. I calculated with them that they could plant 15,000 bluegum trees if they only had potting tubes & seeds. Then I told them that wellsforzoë actually can provide a pump & safe well, tree seeds & potting tubes IF they were willing to dig the well about 2m deeper and take care of the trees in the near future. They were excited and I gave them the number of Harisen as we want the people to call wellsforzoë and not the other way around…

About one week later they called Harisen and he discussed how WfZ can enable them to have a forestry-program and a new pump.


The day before I flew back to Germany Harisen and his wife Charity and I spent about 3 hours there, installed the pump and he gave them some potting tubes and seeds. The two emotions that I could tell – the language barrier makes it difficult to say a lot more – is: they were super surprised that we actually showed up and kept the “promise” they had hoped for, and of course they were very happy about the contribution to their village.


And now?


Harisen will stop by the village when he is picking somebody up from Lilongwe and check the condition of the seedlings/trees and will encourage them to spread the word about forestry in their own area.


Now they have clean water again, they will have a few thousand trees in the coming years to grow and harvest.


For me that was an exciting and great last pump installation during my time in Malawi and I hope that the new design will work flawlessly for many years to come – it can not be simply stolen anymore; that’s for sure!

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