Grant and Villager

Grant, with a village boy, during a trip to Africa with MMM. 

One of the most amazing things about Marion Medical Mission’s shallow water well program is the infrastructure that is in place for both well installation and well sustainability.

Areas of coverage are divided into various zones that are staffed – headed up by a Field Officer. These Field Officers are full time MMM employees whose job it is to oversee all new well implementation in their territory, along with well maintenance for all the wells that have been implemented in that region throughout the years.

Charles – my Field Officer – is now charged with overseeing over 1,000 wells in the Chitipa region.

Last year, Charles was allocated 120 new wells for the Chitipa region.

To help Charles implement these wells, he has a staff of seasonal employees called Installation Supervisors. These are the folks that are charged with making sure that a certain number of wells in their “sub-region” are dug and installed correctly.

To help the Installation Supervisors there are a team of Builders that are charged with the digging. These Builders are independent contractors that are paid per well that they dig and complete successfully. They have to meet strict quality standards in order to receive full compensation for the work they have done.

Behind the Builders are Well Maintenance Men that are charged with being onsite whenever needed to maintain and fix the well when necessary.

Each well recipient pays an annual fee ranging from $7 to $12 per year as an “insurance premium” that will then go towards any costs associated with upkeep and maintenance.

As I said, the infrastructure put in place is one of the most robust I have seen. We saw countless boreholes and other wells that were no longer working simply because there was no good plan in place to maintain the well over time.

Marion Medical Missions has put in place a process to make sure the water keeps flowing for years to come.

In reviewing this process, the people that amaze me the most are the Well Maintenance Men.

They are not paid.

They are volunteers.

One day I asked Charles, “Why do these people volunteer to be Maintenance Men?”

Charles looked at me completely perplexed and answered, “Grant – why do you volunteer? What is the difference?”

His answer resulted in something that rarely happens (as my friends know).

It rendered me speechless.

Why do I volunteer?

Well, obviously, because I feel called to do so. I feel called to live out one of the great commandments of loving our “neighbors” that need our help the most.

But let’s be honest. There are other reasons as well.

First and foremost, it’s because I can. I have the financial ability and flexibility to volunteer at no great personal cost to me.

I have a family that “gets it” and therefore lets me be gone that period of time.

I get the experience of going to AFRICA and experiencing new cultures, environments, wildlife, etc.

I get the adrenaline rush of getting out of my comfort zone driving places that one should not drive; hiking mountains; meeting amazing new people, etc.

In short, I get a tax-deductible life experience that I will cherish for the rest of my days.

I am immeasurably blessed for being able to do this.

So those are the other reasons why I volunteer.

But not the Well Maintenance Men. They don’t do it for the “rush” and the “experience”. They do it solely for the love of their neighbor.

They are in fact not much different then these neighbors they serve. They are also farmers that must first grow food for themselves to survive before they can hope to earn a living by selling the excess.

They don’t have electricity, running water, a vehicle, or any of the conveniences we have.

They are extremely poor.

Yet, they still volunteer.

So, when I’m home reflecting on this amazing trip, it’s these volunteers that I cannot erase from my mind.

They volunteer to serve because they love their neighbors that need help.

That’s the only reason they do it.

It’s as pure as it is beautiful as it is damning to the majority of us that have so much yet volunteer so little.

I believe that God thinks it is perfectly OK to volunteer for all the extra circular reasons that I do.

In fact, I believe God wants it that way so that we can derive immeasurable blessings from volunteering.

So two things:

1) Please pray for and remember the Well Maintenance Men. They are true heroes and true examples of how we are to live our lives by loving our neighbors.

2) Don’t spend too much time questioning why you volunteer. Rather, ask yourself whether you are volunteering enough!! I can promise you that in addition to loving your neighbor, you will be personally and immeasurably blessed by the experience!

Many Blessings!

Grant, MMM Volunteer