2017 Trip to Malawi

This is to let you know about the activities that are happening in Malawi with the Malawi Water Project. Accompanied by my sister, Peggy Beswick, we spent the month of May in Malawi. We joined Sarah Falconer who has been working with the Project since September and visited all three Project areas to see how things are going.

Our first visit was to our North Project where we met with the team members and learned more about villages that are along the shores of Lake Malawi. Because there aren’t roads to the villages, transportation is by boat and because the drilling equipment to drill a borehole is too heavy to carry by boat into the village, they are forced to use the lake water for drinking. The water is contaminated and villagers especially children get sick from drinking it. There are often outbreaks of cholera in these villages.

We went with our team to see one of the villages and give a presentation on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene as well as introduce the biosand filter to the community.

 

Everyone listened intently to the presentation and were excited about the prospect of getting filters in their village. We are partnering with an organization called Luke International who is going to donate funds to construct 5 filters that will be installed in this community. Our team will install and follow-up on the filters to make sure they are working properly and the home owners know how to take care of them.

A Health Committee has been set up in the village to help families create a healthy home environment. Two villagers are going to be chosen to come and receive training at our factory site. These two participants will learn how the filters are made and how they work. They will be the first contact for the villagers when something is not working.

We stayed at the guest house of the Anglican Diocese of Northern Malawi in Mzuzu and met with “Sarah’s Girls”. Sarah has a group of 10 little friends who can’t wait until she comes to see them. Sarah has been teaching them English in the evenings after work and is a positive factor in their lives.

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During our visit with our Central Team, we drove to a village on another lake called Lake Chilwa. Villagers here are also forced to use lake water to drink since the water table has gone down so low that many of the shallow wells do not have water any more.  Two of the team members, a Biosand Implementer and a Community Health Promoter along with our Field Coordinator came with us to follow-up on the filters that were installed about a month ago. This community is using a shallow hand dug well for their water which is very contaminated.

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One of the filters had a block in the vinyl tubing so the flow rate was very slow. Felix, our Biosand Implementer was able to dislodge the blockage with a bicycle pump and the flow rate was back to normal.

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We met a young man who told us that before his family received a filter, he was suffering from serious skin rashes from bathing in the contaminated water. He now uses the filtered water to bathe and his skin has cleared up. He has no more skin problems and he was so happy.

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The chief and his wife who have given us the land to erect the shelter to make the filters are very kind and want to help the Project. The chief’s wife gave Sarah a chitenjay (wrap that is used for a skirt).

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They are happy to have the shelter and have given a room of their house to hold the jerry cans for storage of the filtered water and other supplies for making the filters. The shelter to construct the filters is rudimentary but it does the job until we have the funds to construct a factory like the one we have finished in the South.

We did some water testing and had to work by candlelight as the electricity is so intermittent. We explained the testing and the results to the team who were very interested to see the reduction in the number of ecoli after the water had been filtered.

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Our next adventure was a trip to the South Project to see the completed factory building. Sarah has been overseeing the construction of the building which has taken about 4 ½ months to complete. Definitely a record in Malawi! The building has a work area to construct the filters, a training room, office, kitchen and storage room.

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We had our team meeting in the open work area of the factory and we had a tour of the facility. The team members are so happy to have such a wonderful work area.  There is a lot of potential for the Anglican Diocese to generate a source of funds to be donated to the Malawi Water Project. Some ideas include renting out the training room, supplying lunches at conferences and offering printing services to the public. Lots of ideas are coming from the team and from the Administration at the Diocese on how the building can generate a source of funds  for the Project. These activities will move the Project towards sustainability which is our long term goal.

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The grand opening occurred on the 25th of May and Bishop Kalemba of the Anglican Diocese of Southern Malawi dedicated the new building. A TV reporter and cameraman attended and took pictures of the ceremony. We were pleased to have several dignitaries from the community including 7 Village Headmen, 2 Traditional Authorities (elected leaders of several villages) and representatives from churches in the area including the nearby Mosque. We also had government representatives who work in the area of development and health.

Following the ceremony we drove up the mountain to Chiromo 2, a village that has been working with the Malawi Water Project since 2014.  There was a competition among several villages who are working with the Malawi Water Project and this community won the competition. The village is very clean, filters are well cared for and we viewed one of the  cleanest latrines I have seen in Malawi.

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Certificates were given to 6 community members who consistently used their filters, cared for them properly and had all of the health parameters for a healthy home.

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The village headwoman, Delia Mtonyo received a certificate as well as a bucket with a tap and soap. She has been instrumental in making sure her village is healthy. After the ceremony we sat and talked with her and she was telling us that since 2014 they have been working on keeping their village clean and healthy. She said that her village is about 10 Kms away from the clinic and there used to be cholera outbreaks in her village. Often before villagers could get a person with cholera down the hill to the clinic they would have died on the way. She has eradicated cholera in her village by using the filters and by following the instructions of the team from the Malawi Water Project.

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Everyone loved the drummers and dancers and really laughed at the drama group. The women did an excellent job of traditional dancing and singing. Here we are joining in wearing our chitenjay dresses.

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It was an excellent day and the Dignitaries were impressed. The Project is becoming known which is good, however, we have increased demand for the filters and for our team to help villages create and maintain a healthy environment.

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Our plans for the coming year are to move into more remote communities that are difficult to reach. The transportation costs will increase but it is very crucial for these communities to have access to filters and access to training on proper sanitation and hygiene which is saving lives.

Take the One Litre challenge

World Water Day

March 22nd, 2017

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Water is so precious. For millions of people in the world it is very difficult to access. Clean water is even more difficult to find. Today we celebrate all of the work that is being done in the world to help people of those communities access clean water.

It is not uncommon for people, especially women living in remote areas, to walk many kilometers to carry heavy pails of water home for cooking and cleaning. That water will more than likely be contaminated, so that is why we are helping people access technologies such as the Biosand Water Filter.

Needless to say, water for bathing is very limited. So, for you to experience what millions of people go through on a daily basis, today, I would like to challenge everyone to have a shower with just one litre of water.  Yes, that’s one litre of water! It can be done. (It does help to have short hair).

Believe me, showering in one litre of water can give all of us a greater appreciation for the water we use in our daily lives.

 

Wishing you a wonderful World Water Day! Remember to be thankful for every drop.

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Happy Holidays

Our Project Team in Malawi, and our Volunteer Management Team in Canada would like to wish you and your family Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  Thank you to all of our donors and volunteers for a most successful year in making such a huge difference in the lives of families who now are drinking clean water.

Your generous support has helped make diseases caused by contaminated water a thing of the past for families in rural parts of Malawi.

And in case you haven’t heard, the Malawi Water Project has now installed over 1300 filters which have provided clean water to 10,500 people!  As well, we have conducted numerous community health meetings which have provided education on proper sanitation and hygiene to nearly 10,000 people.

Last month, we announced a donation matching program by one of our most supportive donor families.  Since then, the response has been generous and we are happy to announce that we have now raised over $9000 toward our goal of $10,000 which will be matched until the end of the year – Just $1000 left to raise by December 31st!

                                    Jenifer Moreland                                     Esther Khasimu

Have a wonderful holiday season and we wish you and your family a very healthy, prosperous and peaceful year in 2017.

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                                                                Zikomo ~ Thank You

 

Matching Donation

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Great news! Our strongest supporting family has offered to match any donation we receive from November 1, to December 31, to a maximum of $10,000. That’s right a maximum of $10,000! We are so grateful and we want to make sure we can reach the $10,000 mark to take advantage of this wonderfully generous offer.

Please let your family and friends know that their donation will double if they donate during the Christmas season. If anyone asks you what you want for Christmas and you don’t really need anything, ask them to donate a filter or partial filter to a family in rural Malawi. It will make such a huge difference in the lives of the family who you are helping.

The father and mother in the family will not be sick from drinking contaminated water and will be able to continue working in their fields growing crops and tending to their chickens and goats.

Their children will not get sick from water borne diseases and will be able to continue going to school. The grandparents will be able to look after little ones while mother and father are tending to their farm. The family will be better off financially because they won’t have to spend what little money they do have on medication. The filter will be shared with extended family and friends AND your gift will continue working to keep your family healthy for many years to come.

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Join us this Christmas to make a whole family happy and healthy.

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Successful Benefit Evening

Our first ever live auction was fun. Everyone got into the game and enjoyed the lively entertainment.

screen-shot-2016-10-22-at-4-22-58-pm The change of venue was a hit. Great food, wonderful service, lots of room and enjoyable live music though out dinner.
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With a variety of silent auction items and special live auction items to bid on, the night was full of activity and  excitement.img_3895

 

 

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Our administrative team and silent auction coordinators did a great job preparing for the evening.

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Karen Belanger kept the evening moving while our donors helped make the evening a success by pledging funds for very needed items for the Project.

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Ashif and Reeshma Bhura gave an informative and inspiring update on Project activities while Nancy Swerhun gave a heart wrenching speech about the conditions of life in Malawi and the desperate need for clean water.

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The evening closed with live music featuring talented vocalist Nynne Collins.

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Thank you to everyone who participated in the evening or made donations to the Project. We were able to raise more than we did last year so the teams in Malawi are very thankful that they will be able to continue helping their families and neighbours have access to clean water.

 

You Are Invited !

The Malawi Water Project
Benefit Evening

Dinner & Live and Silent Auction

NEW! Preview auction items here

Ticket deadline was October 11th. Contact Helen at helen@malawiwaterproject.com to inquire about ticket availability

Our goal is to improve health and alleviate suffering by providing clean, safe drinking water.

Biosand Water Filter

We teach proper sanitation and hygiene to small villages in Malawi and we train villagers how to construct biosand water filters.

DATE:  Saturday, October 15, 2016 | 5:30 pm – 10:00 pm

WHERE:  Carriage House Inn, 9030 MacLeod Trail South, Calgary, AB

COST:  $60 Adults

Bring your family and friends for an inspiring, enlightening and fun evening to help support this project.

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Live Music

Malawi Water Project

“Providing Clean Water, Saving Lives”

Back From Malawi

My daughter Karen and I arrived in Malawi earlier in May for our annual visit to the 3 project areas where we get a chance to assess the progress and impact of the Malawi Water Project and meet our teams in person.

This is how our visit went.

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After visiting all three Project areas and reviewing the work being done, we are pleased to report that the teams are consistently producing and installing the target for the Project of 45 filters each month. The follow-up has really improved this year. All regions are following-up on the filters at least 4 times after installation. The last follow-up occurs 6 months after installation so by then the owners are into the routine of using their filter and are aware of how to take care of it.  One village we visited has a very proactive village Headman who has set up a health committee and is encouraging all of the villagers to follow the instructions from our community health promotion team.  Many of the households have bio-sand filters, new clean latrines (outdoor pit toilets), dish drying racks to eliminate germs from dishes by drying them in the sun, rubbish pits and hand washing stations beside the latrines.

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We held meetings with each of the teams and gave gifts to each of the team members including the volunteers.  They all seem to be working well together and are happy. They are so pleased that they have jobs. There are so few people in the villages who have paid employment.  With their salaries they help out their extended family members.

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This year has been particularly difficult for a great many people in the country. The south part of the country experienced extreme drought and the north had severe flooding, so food is scarce. Many people did not harvest enough to last until the next crop matures. The government is trying to buy maize from surrounding countries and may have to go as far as Mexico. There were children picking up dried grass seed to give to their mothers to cook.  This is the first year that we have had people quietly come up to us and say they don’t have food at home and have children to feed. We gave away our take-out food to an elderly woman who was asking for help. It has been terribly difficult and heart wrenching.

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Many people are ill and can’t afford medicine so we personally purchased medicines from a wholesale pharmacy to take to a clinic that our South team is working with. There were so many mothers and children waiting for food supplements of soy given out by the government. We took malaria medication to the clinic along with ciprofloxin, worm treatment and pain medication. The pharmacy also donated large bottles of pain medication for children as they wanted to help the remote areas we were travelling to.

Our superheros were busy constructing the filters so that families could have clean uncontaminated water.

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It is so easy to get pulled off course as the needs in this country are so great.  We have to keep focused on water and sanitation as this is helping to keep people healthy so they can work and go to school to get an education.  There have been outbreaks of cholera in the country this year and many people are desperately in need of filters. We have long waiting lists in all three areas.

Our three Field Coordinators were in Zambia at the Quality Assurance Workshop for the bio-sand filter.  The workshop was sponsored by CAWST (Center for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology). The intent of the workshop was to make sure the filters are being constructed and installed properly and are being followed-up.

During the week that the Field Coordinators were away we met with the administrators to go over any challenges they are experiencing. We reviewed and scanned this year’s receipts, reviewed our budgets and reviewed the Malawi Revenue Authority rules and regulations to make sure we are in compliance with them.

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We held a Field Coordinator meeting to discuss our progress to date and our future plans. One of the processes we introduced  is a new way for the teams to keep track of their visits to the homes and to complete their reports. We are using an application that was developed for NGO’s working in rural areas where internet access is not prevalent. The application is called Kobo Toolbox and we have purchased Samsung tablets for the teams to use. This has allowed us to develop a questionnaire that the team members use to keep track of their filters and their community home visits. It has GPS capability which hopefully we will be able to use to allow us to track all filters.The team members were so excited to learn this new technology. They are so anxious to learn. I couldn’t even get them to take a break!

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We learned of a primary school in the north that provides room and board to young children. The school doesn’t have running water or electricity. The children don’t have bedrooms, they all sleep on the floor in the classrooms. They don’t have mosquito nets and they have to go to the river to get water to drink.  There are 500 students at the school. The teachers do not have books so they teach by using a blackboard.  The children are given one meal per day consisting only of ground maize porridge. Unfortunately this is very common in Malawi.

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One of the things we did concentrate on this year was teaching the Field Coordinators how to test water using a small kit that is great for taking samples in the field. We are hoping to have a kit for each of the three regions to start sampling water and testing for e-coli.

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So that was our trip this year.  The teams are working hard helping their neighbours stay healthy. No doubt there is a need to get more filters into the communities and more training on proper sanitation and hygiene.

If you can help, it would be greatly appreciated. Any amount goes such a long way in Malawi.