This is like a dream,” said Lucy, headwoman of the village of Saza today when we came to install the pump on the village’s new well.
It will serve 44 households which works out to about 220 souls who will have clean, fresh water for the first time. Lucy is a teacher at the primary school and speaks English, which most village head-people (almost all men) do not. She showed me where they had been getting their water up to that moment—an open hole about eight feet deep; they would dip out the murky water with a pail on the end of a forked stick. It was quite nice to hear her express the village’s gratitude directly in English.
After two weeks on the job here in Malawi, it is still amazing to realize that we as an organization are delivering safe drinking water to the first generation to experience it since the dawn of mankind. The elderly, what few there are, are the most appreciative of all the villagers, perhaps because they are the ones who have seen the most children deteriorate and slip away from water-borne diseases. Indeed, more than one grandmother has gotten down on her knees to thank us—that is humbling!! One old man (most elderly are women) in a village today announced as we pulled up,
“They are here. Today we stop drinking frogs!”
Our field officer explained later that it was not only frogs, but it was not unusual for the villagers to remove a dead snake from their water source before unwaveringly drawing their supply. Another village headman explained that not far away children would dip water out of an open waterhole with their shoes (the lucky ones have shoes), so they could drink.