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.

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




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


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.


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.


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


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 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.


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.



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.


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.



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.


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!



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.


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.


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.

Reaching the Most Vulnerable

Malawi Water Project Report for 2015 

The year started out ominously with widespread flooding hitting the Mfera area in the south of Malawi where we have one of our three filter construction sites. Almost 200 people died and almost one –hundred thousand people lost everything, their homes, their livestock and their crops –starvation became a threat. Our donors rose to the occasion and donated over $3000 to help with flood relief. We took the funds on our trip to Malawi and they were used to buy maize and maize flour. We were honoured to be able to participate in some of the distribution of the maize with Father Raphael Mponda who had organized a list of those most vulnerable, those who would need the food until their crops could be replanted and grow again. Thanks to those who generously donated to help those half way round the world in crisis. You don’t know how much of a difference you made to many people’s survival!

IMG_3881Truck load of maize

This year proved to be the year of the volunteer for the Malawi Water Project. We have several villagers who believe strongly in helping the families in their villages implement health and sanitation practices that will reduce illness. When we were in Malawi in May we distributed red T-shirts with Volunteer Community Health Promoter printed on them so that the volunteers have official status within the villages. We feel so lucky to have these committed volunteers who have very little and who will come out and spend all day undertaking the backbreaking task of washing sand for the filters and other hard labour in return for lunch and a bar of soap. Without them we wouldn’t be able to provide clean water to as many people as we do.

Volunteer CHP Central

From January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2015 we installed 385 filters and reached 3041 people with information on proper sanitation and hygiene. This year we placed more emphasis on the follow-up of the filters to make sure every one of them is working and providing clean water. The picture below of one of the owners shows she is happy to receive a laminated instruction sheet telling her how to properly maintain their filter.

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Along with supplying a filter to a family, our Community Health Promoters teach the family how to construct hand washing stations or tippy taps and how to construct dish drying racks to keep clean dishes away from the ground and the animals. Families are also taught how to build proper latrines or outdoor toilets away from their water sources and houses.


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More and more people are becoming aware of the biosand filter and are requesting to have one in their homes.

We are very thankful to have received a grant  in 2015 from the Community Initiatives Program administered through the Alberta Government Department of Culture and Tourism. This grant was awarded through the International Development Program. It is given to organizations working in developing countries who have raised at least the amount of the grant through our own fundraising activities. With the grant we have been able to provide more filters to families and to reach more people with information on proper sanitation and hygiene.

A filter has been sold by our South team to a Malawian at full price so this is a milestone for the Project. Proceeds from the sale will be used to subsidize filters that are going to very poor villagers who cannot afford to pay full price for their filters. This is the start of our Project becoming self-sustainable in the country.

We are supplying yellow jerry cans with each filter and instructing owners to clean the jerry cans and use only these containers for storing filtered water. This way we can be assured that the filtered water is not being contaminated in the home by being put in the same containers that are used to bring the water into the home.


After participating in an NGO event in the capital of Malawi we received some recognition for our project when one of the government ministers visited our booth, very exciting for our three field coordinators who were manning the booth and showcasing the filter.

NGO Week demonstration for the Minister

NGO Week Preparing the Display

Lastly we dipped our hand – so to speak- into water testing with the help of some American university students who were in the country on a water project. This is something we hope to do more of in 2016, both to ensure the filters are working correctly and to provide evidence to those who have any doubts that the filters work.  IMG_4101

Other plans for 2016 are to set up a permanent construction site on our recently secured parcel of land and drill a borehole. We also hope to set up a maize mill or other service as a way of generating income for the project, improving the lives of the people and moving towards making the project more self-sustaining.

We are so thankful to our many donors and want to reassure them that we carefully monitor and spend your money to have the most beneficial impact. It bears repeating that we are all volunteers on the Malawi Water Project and essentially all money donated goes to Malawi and is spent on the water project, including paying salaries to the project’s 22 employees and volunteers in Malawi.  With your help we are bringing clean water to the most vulnerable children and families in rural Malawi.  We would not be able to do it without you!

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We held our annual Dinner and Silent Auction for the Malawi Water Project on October 17th. What a success! We had approximately 200 people in attendance which exceeded our expectations. We raised  $26,263 at the event, we have received more than $7500 in donations through the church so far and we have received a pledge to match any donations received up to $7500 from now to December 31st.  I have attached some photos of our fun event.
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Thank you to everyone who participated by either attending, donating, volunteering, performing or acquiring items for the silent auction. Our teams in Malawi now have renewed energy knowing that we will be able to continue to bring clean water and teach proper sanitation and hygiene to villagers in rural Malawi. They will be able to help keep families healthy especially little children under 5 years old.
Our goal for the coming year is to install 360 filters and provide training on proper sanitation and hygiene to 3000 villagers.
The people of rural Malawi thank you for your support.

Update from May Trip


We arrived home safely after a productive trip to Malawi for the month of May. This was Sarah’s first adventure to Malawi and she really rolled her sleeves up, wrapped her chitenji  around her  waist and got to work. Karen and I were very impressed and so were the locals. Sarah is continuing to stay on in Malawi until the middle of July and I know the teams will appreciate her assistance.

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Our first stop was to visit our North Project. We had a bit of a set back since Sarah’s luggage didn’t make it and neither did one of our bags destined for our South Project.  Fortunately after a few days both bags did appear however, some of Sarah’s items were missing so she has been forced to become a minimalist on this trip.

The teams are not only focussing on providing the biosand filter to families, they are also working hard to educate villagers on proper sanitation and hygiene.

CHP's with teaching cards

Our Community Health Promoters use pictures to explain how germs are carried and how proper sanitation and hygiene can eliminate germs and stop their families from getting sick.

In each of the three Project areas we met with the team members and prior to the meeting we did fun activities to break the ice and help us remember everyone’s name.

Ice Breaker Malawi Trip 2015

One of our meetings was held in the grass under a tree. The site where our shelter is located and where we usually meet was extremely busy. A group of volunteer doctors, nurses and medical assistants from the US had come to set up a mobile clinic for 2 weeks. They were inundated by hundreds of people needing to be seen so we opted for this quiet area so we could hear each other speak.

Team Meeting in grass Malawi Trip 2015

During our household visits, while our Biosand Filter Implementer and our Community Health Promoter observed, one of the young mothers showed us how she uses her filter. The women have to carry very heavy loads of wood on their heads to use for fires to cook and boil contaminated water. We are happy that we are not only providing safe water for mom’s and their families but we are also reducing the need for firewood to boil water and in turn reducing deforestation .

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Beneficiary appreciates follow-up

One of our beneficiaries is telling me how he appreciates the filter and he also appreciates that we don’t just bring in a machine for him to use and then leave and not come back like so many other organizations. He is happy that we keep in touch with him to see how his filter is working and if he needs any help. That conversation reinforced for me the need to continue to concentrate on our follow-up program with the beneficiaries of the filters.

We are very grateful to Nazir and Rosie Bhura with All Canadian Printing of Calgary who generously donated a gift of  laminated instruction sheets. Their website is The sheets with colourful pictures describe how the beneficiaries should care for their filters.

Mother with laminated card Family with laminated card

It is very encouraging to see that we have several volunteers who have joined the Project in each region to help teach proper sanitation and hygiene in their villages. They also help prepare the sand and gravel for installation in the filter.

Volunteer CHP CentralHelen giving gifts to volunteers

We distributed gifts of T-shirts, identification cards, soaps, hand lotions and mosquito nets to our Volunteer Community Health Promoters. The team members also received new T-shirts, soaps, lotions and equipment to help them do their jobs.

Inspecting filters SouthMuslim family with filter

Here we are inspecting the newly constructed filters in the South Project. The South team has moved their construction area to a new village near the clinic.  We are contemplating the need for a larger factory site where the filters can be protected from the elements and from any damage that could occur to them.  Here is a picture of a happy family making use of their filter to keep their children healthy.

It was difficult to see all of the devastation from the flooding in the South.  Many of the homes and crops were destroyed and toilets have collapsed.  The villagers affected by the flooding were very happy to receive maize seed and flour from us. Thank you to everyone who contributed to the relief fund. We helped distribute bags of maize flour from the first truck load.

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Malawi Trip 2015 486Helen and Raphael carrying maizeSarah distributing maize

Truck load of maize

Our next stop was Mfera clinic. Hilda and Rex Bwanausi live at the clinic. Hlilda is a teacher in a nearby school and Rex is a Medical Services Officer at the hospital in Chikwawa. Rex has been instrumental in promoting the biosand filter with the villagers and teaching them how it works.  

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On behalf of Hilda and Rex we would like to thank the women who volunteer their time to sew kits for  Days For Girls in Calgary. Their website is We took over 25 hygiene kits for girls to continue going to school when they are menstruating. We also gave 10 postpartum kits to the clinic. Hilda and  Rex will distribute the kits to the girls at Hilda’s school.  Along with the kits we took laminated sheets to teach both boys and girls about the process of reproduction and their bodies.  Hilda told us she will send pictures of the girls receiving their kits.

Our final 3 days in Malawi were spent with our Field Coordinators going through Project Management,  Work Plans,  Behaviour Change, Conflict Resolution,  Leadership skills, Team Building and discussions about future goals and direction.

Training session with teamSarh, Karen and Helen at Training Team at trainingReuben and James role playing

We  had the Field Coordinators participate in several role playing scenarios to help them deal with problematic behaviours that may arise with their team members and we role played follow-up visits to households that have filters. 

It was a very productive month and it is rewarding to see the strides the teams have made over the past year. The training was well received and the Field Coordinators appreciated the chance to get together to discuss issues.

There are several areas that I can see for improvement and growth.  The South and Central teams really are in need of proper shelters to make their filters and to have a secure storage area for their equipment. All three areas need another mold to produce the filters more efficiently so that they are able to spend more days in the field following up on installed filters.

We would very much like to expand our distribution of filters to villages that are using water from the lakes or rivers. There are cases of cholera every year during the rainy season.

Any help that you may be able to provide would be greatly appreciated.  Please click    HERE .

Thank you so much for your assistance.



Great News! Matching Donation

Wonderful news, we have donors who has generously offered to match any donations that come in to The Malawi Water Project before December 31st, 2014 to a maximum of $3000.

This will be very helpful in continuing the work of the Project. We have waiting lists of villagers wanting a biosand water filter. The teams in Malawi are having difficulty keeping up with the demand. As well as constructing and installing the filters they are passionate about getting information on proper sanitation and hygiene to villagers who are experiencing illness due to water borne diseases especially the children.

The teams would like to focus more attention on presentations to schools in remote areas since this information is so important in preventing illness.

Your donation before December 31st will be doubled and will provide much needed support to the teams who are working so hard to bring clean water, proper sanitation and hygiene to remote areas of Malawi.

A grandfather waiting to learn about health and sanitation to help keep his grandson healthy.

A grandfather waiting to learn about health and sanitation to help keep his grandson healthy.