The 1998 Marion Medical Mission Team delivered and distributed 40 trunks of medical supplies to the Embangweni and Nkoma Hospitals, worked in schools, clinics, churches, and installed and built shallow wells.

For 28 days between October 11 and November 8, MMM’s team of five (Bob and Alene Holloway, Jerry Roush, Jocelyn and Tom Logan) joined in partnership with the Synod of Livingstonia, the villagers, and the Embangweni Shallow Well Team in their battle to build and install shallow wells.

Our 1998 goal was to install 200 shallow wells. By the time we left for Malawi, Marion Medical Mission had received donations for 180 wells. We were confident we would receive the balance of donations needed but considerably less confident we would be able to build and install 200 wells by the end of the year.

The plan was to work in the Embangweni and Mtende areas and start the Shallow Well Program in three new areas – one in the very remote area around the “frontier” town of Chitipa. There are no roads to the villages, only dirt paths. The cement, PVC pipe, and pump needed to be delivered to each village, and once a well is built, the pump must be installed.

To have any hope of meeting our goal, we would need at least three 4-wheel-drive-pickup trucks running all the time. We had only one. The First Presbyterian Church in Champaign, Illinois heard our plea and donated most of the funds to purchase a new truck. Some additional came from an anonymous donor.

What a godsend that was, but we still had the problem of finding a vehicle we could purchase and getting it to Malawi before our team arrived in October.

Just when we were ready to give up, we found a new 4-wheel-drive-diesel double-cab-pickup we could purchase in South Africa. Jim McGill, Tom Logan and his daughter Marie drove the new truck up from Johannesburg through Zimbabwe and Mozambique, and got it cleared through customs and into Malawi by Friday, October 9th.

Tom and Marie picked up MMM’s team on Sunday, October 11th at the Lilongwe Airport, and the team went to work Monday morning. We were able to borrow, beg and lease a third vehicle for most of the time we were in Malawi, giving us the three trucks needed.

For 28 days we struggled. Some of us took bucket baths, stayed in the villages, and slept in resthouses that can cost as little as 35 kwatcha (81 cents) a night. We got separated from our supplies, went without food and water, and got dehydrated.

We were in remote villages where there had never been a vehicle or a white man. Chitipa has been described as a “frontier” town. It is located in the far north on the border with Tanzania and Zambia. Once, on our way to Chitipa, the road was barricaded and we were confronted with men demanding a fee to let us pass. Another time while traveling at night, gun-toting soldiers stopped us wanting to charge us some tax or duty, however, no fee, duty, or tax was paid.

Driving in the bush can be a challenge. We had to find alternative ways to cross 5 bridges that had collapsed (one had been burned), and we crossed a dozen bridges that were unsafe—some that had partially collapsed. We had 4 flat tires and had to find our way around and through dry river beds. We were stuck in the sand three times trying to make our way up the bank on the far side of the river bed.

We had three breakdowns and two were out in the bush. In one breakdown we waited a day-and-a-half before another vehicle came by. In the other, after hiking through the bush, hitching a ride in the back of a lorry, and towing the truck out of the bush to Mzuzu, we woke up a mechanic at midnight and got him to work on the truck all night. In addition, we had to replace the clutch in both older trucks.

Jocelyn Logan drove the oldest truck (the one we borrowed and leased) in the Embangweni area as well as in the new area of Mzimba, installing 81 wells with Mr. Henry Soko, members of The Shallow Well Team, and the villagers. Bob Holloway, Jerry Roush and Mr. McKinley Mbeye worked in the new area of Kan’gona installing 59 wells, with members of the Shallow Well Team, and the villagers. Tom Logan and Mr. James Seyani worked in the Chitipa and Mtende areas installing 58 wells with members of the Shallow Well Team, and the villagers.

When MMM’s team left on November 8, an incredible 198 wells had been installed. In an e-mail we received in January 1999, we learned another 103 wells had been installed since we left bringing the total wells built and installed this year to 301, providing an over 115,000 people with safe water.