Our visit to Chigulu Village, Malawi, Africa is the most memorable of the 95 villages to which my partner, Dale Stanley, and I delivered well parts and African well installers so that villagers could complete their well to obtain safe water. With its 90 residents living in 18 households, Chigulu is located over 50 kilometers in the bush from the nearest township near the Zambian border.
The villagers’ source of water is a tiny pond about the size of a luxury bathroom. It is also the water source for cattle, goats, dogs and ducks and wild baboons, monkeys and rabbits. Many of them are physically in the water churning the mud so the water is always muddy, but more gravely, these animals perform their bodily functions while in or near the water causing the water to become infected with water born diseases.
Mr. Chigulu, the Headman, informed us that two of the villagers had died this year because of having to drink their bad water – one from dysentery and his grandson from cholera. So, when their application to the Zone Committee for help in building a well was accepted, they eagerly spent about two months constructing it. Their new well, just over 10 feet deep with almost 4 feet of water, will provide them with all the safe water they will need.
Mr. Chigulu told us that only he and two other men in the village had ever seen a white person before and that none of the children had seen a motor vehicle, so our arrival was a big event for them. However, this Headman of his village emphatically stated that the most important event to ever occur in the life of Chigulu Village was clean safe water flowing from their well so they no longer have to fear enduring water born diseases.
As we left, he solemnly pleaded with us to come back next year and help a nearby village that must use “bad” water. Then they too can celebrate “the most important event in life of their village” when the safe water flows from their new well.