This was my 6th year in the warm heart of Africa. Obvious changes of more bikes, cell phones, some women wearing pants, and Daddies holding the hand of their toddlers. What hasn’t changed is the kindness and hard working villagers, cows being walked to the market, bumpy roads, hand plowed fields, hand watered crops, no electricity, mud huts, and water holes shared by the goats and chickens, unless Marion Medical Mission has installed a shallow well in their village. MMM is an organization that can be respected and trusted. The pride that we have, the Africans and volunteers, is real and tangible. The impossible is constantly possible here in Malawi. There is nothing shallow about this program. My African partners over the years have told stories of their government promising clean protected water in the villages, but it is MMM that ALWAYS comes through.
Mr. Mkandawire said, ” I have such pride working for MMM because I know when I promise a well, my people will get protected clean water.” MMM walks hand in hand with the people they serve. It is one of the few organizations in Africa that is sustainable. Cholera clinics have closed in areas where the shallow wells are installed. The Malawians know that if a well part breaks, an African volunteer will come to fix it. Sustainability- Awesome-Partnership-Hand in Hand-MMM.
Malawi celebrates Mother’s Day. It is a holiday. We were installing a well that day. Our 1st well was at a school. Hundreds of children came to school in their uniforms even though it was a day off because they heard we were coming. Cheers and laughter and singing greeted us. While my partner Barb was recording well data on the Android, I got to play with the children. Over the years I have developed a repertoire of songs and games to play with the kids. I asked the children to sing me a song. A teacher stepped up to lead the kids in an English song. I was struck by the words ‘I will never forget you’. Tearing up, I knew I would not forget them. To see Mama’s and the children’s faces when the clean cool water is pumped for the first time is breathtaking. It is hard to describe the joy and relief knowing that this village’s health will improve with this well. One Headman described it as manna from heaven. An old Gogo took a pitcher and filled it to the brim and drank with water pouring down his throat. He wiped his mouth and grinned and set the pitcher down, wanting to be the first to drink from the well. Sheer happiness! I have endless stories of joy and kindness. Women insisting on dancing with us and giving ‘huggies’. Goethe says, “Kindness is the golden chain by which society is bound.” Malawians live and breathe kindness and joy. I had the privilege to be in the double cab one day installing wells. 3 Mzungu women in the front and 3 African men in the back seat. We women couldn’t hear ourselves talk because the men were so loud, laughing and yucking it up with each other.
Very typical when Malawian men get together. Made me smile and my ears hurt.
When we dedicate a well, Uchindami kwa Chiuta, Glory to God, is written on each top slab. We ask if anyone has anything to say. Almost always, the speaker thanks us profusely and asks us to go home and bless all the donors and then they remind us of their neighbors who need protected water. Our drives are longer and harder, driving on animal paths and bumpy roads and it is all worth it. Bumps are part of life’s journey, I was told by one of my African partners. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all people could wake up this morning to clean water? More than 2800 wells installed in 7 weeks.