Two and a half days into our trip to Malawi and we’ve fixed three broken water pumps (giving water to over 850 people), visited one new borehole that serves a community of 443 people and spent an afternoon at a school sanitation programme that means 950 girls are at school, gaining a vital education. In total that’s 2,343 lives that have been transformed forever – all thanks to anyone who has ever bought a bottle of One.
Amazing yes – but it’s sometimes hard to comprehend these kind of statistics. We’ve now raised over £14 million for water projects, giving clean, safe water to over 3 million people in communities like these. It’s hard enough to imagine all of the 2,343 people that we’ve helped over the last few days, let alone the 3 million people we’ve helped in total – so I’d just like to focus on one morning that really resonated with me today.
Today we visited a rural community in Thyolo. For the last 100 years or so, since the first group moved to the area, they have been collecting their drinking water from the local river. This river, although beautiful, is not a clean or safe water source by any means (watch this video to see the locals washing in it).
As we walked the 1.5km from the village to the river down a steep hill, across rocks and through the harsh terrain, I couldn’t even imagine what it must be like walking back up again carrying 25l of water or more on your head. But the reality is – this is what 375 women and children had to do every single day, only to bring home dirty water from a source contaminated from people washing in the stream, animal waste (and even remains) in the water and more. My stomach sank (and I had to try and stop myself from crying) as one old lady explained to me that two young children died from Cholera over the last year from drinking the dirty water. All this struggle, just to collect something that flows out of our taps at home.
On the 8th of May 2016, this all changed forever. On this day, we constructed a 70 metre borehole in the village meaning all of its residents could instantly pump clean water to drink, wash, cook and more. At this moment 443 people’s lives changed forever. 443 people can now drink clean and safe water, 375 women and children no longer need to risk the dangerous walk down to the river, 280 children can now go to school and gain an education rather than spending their days walking to collect water and two children will not die from cholera this year. This is just the tip of the iceberg once you start to think about health, work, food, hygiene and everything else that comes with having clean water.
I hope I remember this experience next time I’m feeling ungrateful about something at home. I’ve now seen, first hand, how having something as basic as clean water means the world to millions of people in the world’s poorest communities like these. They will never forget the 8th of May 2016, and I will never forget this day.
If you’d like to follow what One, Bidvest and Harrison Catering have been up to this week in Malawi, then search for #OneInMalawi on Twitter.