I seldom put my wipers on for turn signals, I’m driving 100% of the time on the right, and I fixed chicken and rice for dinner tonight. I’ve been home from Africa for a month but I can still conjure up thoughts of the people I shook hands with in the villages, those that I danced with around the wells, and hear the harmony of voices when the women are singing joyfully for their clean water facility, hear the raucous herons building their nests, listen to the call to pray in the middle of my night. see the red sun setting and feel the warm wind blowing and always the huge smiles on beautiful faces and laughter. I’ve been timid to write of my experiences because I feel so impassioned with this project of bringing clean sustainable water in a partnership with the African people. Marion Medical Mission is an unbelieveable program and I’m so proud to be part of it. It works! Bringing clean water to the remotess of villages is a challenge but doable. Driving roads that have stumps that grab at your tires, bridges that I felt we had to levitate over or at least go around and through the water beds, windy, steep at times, rocky and always bumpy, often jarring.
I’m a two year veteran to Malawi. A country that is home to me because of the kind and warm hearted people who live here. Why did I come back? I had to. The people call to me. It was rare to be in a village when at the end of the dedication, the headman would not thank us and bless us for the gift of clean water, and add an addendum to not forget their neighbors who also are in need of clean water. To all the donors who have made it possible to bring in over 2,000 wells during the dry season of 2009, you have my gratitude. I wish I could drive you to a village when the truck is surrounded by the excitement of the children and women. So much laughter and greetings and hand shaking. It can be overwhelming. There were two times that I recall that Meg and I were tired, secretly hoping that we could get in and out without too much fanfare. Once we were delivering cement to a village in the heat of the day. It was sweltering. This village was full of high energy children. They swarmed the truck, jumping and dancing and singing. It took about two minutes before we joined the children jumping and dancing and laughing. The women came out to see the excitement and they too joined in. Our field officer, Jordan, had to drag us back to the truck so we could move on to the next village.
At the end of another long day with the sun threatening to set within the hour, again we hoped it would be a quick well installation. The men had difficulty with the parts and it took over an hour. This village was joyful and loved to dance and were intent to teach Meg and I how to dance like an African. We get grades of excellent for trying but never came close and again Jordan had to drag us back to the truck. We nicknamed him “Party Pooper” and we sang it to him often. The field officers, installation officers and maintenance builders are amazing people. How they can find their way to the villages is beyond me. They instill pride in the Africans to keep their well sites clean and insure the villagers that they will come if needed to fix the wells if they should break. This program works because of the strong partnerships of MMM and the Africans.
At the end of Team two we had a dinner of celebration with all the volunteers and African partners. Tom asked each of us to stand up and explain what MMM means to us. There were 50 of us each more inspiring than the next. I realized I have to come back because there were people I had yet to work with and meet.
Once again, thank you to all the donors to this program. Every dollar you send is for the most incredible gift of clean water. While I was doing a dedication to a well, three pigs came walking down the path I was standing on, and sauntered behind me to go to the old water source that this village, up until that day, had been using for drinking water. They proceeded to take a long, loud, muddy bath, rolling and snorting their delight in the water. Now, the village people don’t have to share their water source with the animals of the village.
Thank you so much.