Last year, Spabreaks.com sponsored one of Pump Aid’s water pumps in sub-Saharan Africa … so we were desperate to find out how they got on and who they got talking to on their recent trip to Malawi … Pump Aid’s Alexa Doman reports back!
I get cross having to wait just a few minutes in the supermarket when I want to buy something, but the women in the villages that we visited could sometimes be waiting for 45 minutes in a queue for their water. They would then have to walk back to their homes carrying the water up to six times a day. Aside from the physical effort they are ‘losing’ time everyday that they can’t devote to working or looking after their children, and that means that poverty perpetuates.
What struck me the most however, on my recent trip was just how massive a change the Elephant Pumps we are helping to provide really make to individuals (and we do help to provide them – we don’t give them to villages, we provide the materials that are not in the villages and help to install them, but the people there are integral to installing them – it’s theirs). It’s incredible what can happen when you add a little water!
For example, when I met Makulata Limbikani (37) this year, I met a wife, mother of three and a proud businesswoman. Before 2010, when the Elephant Pump was installed in her village, she used to walk to an open well to collect water for her family up to five times a day with each visit taking a lot of time and heavy work to draw all the water her family needed using only a rope and small bucket and then carry it back to her home, all the while knowing that the water she was carrying regularly made her and her family ill. Collecting water alongside her household tasks meant that only Makulata’s husband had enough time to work and he was unable to earn enough to pay for the school fees for their children. After the Elephant Pump was put in place, collecting water became much quicker and easier which gave her extra time to maintain a vegetable garden where she grows enough tomatoes for her household and extra to sell to others in the village – she told me that her tomatoes are so popular that they always sell out! Her business enterprise has meant an increase in the household income which also allows her to pay for her children to attend school.
Happily, her story is not unique: I also met Violet George (27) and Phileas Joan (21) in Nandolo Village in Malawi, both of whom used to work on the local land growing vegetables to provide the necessary income for themselves and their children. The field work was very tough, the income was not regular and it would take them a long time to earn enough (1,000 kwacha/£2 per term per child) for their children to go to school. They used to collect water from shallow dug wells in the riverbed and the local stream. The wells were not far from the village but digging them deep enough to get enough water required a lot of effort and the water could easily be polluted by animals.
Post Elephant Pump, things are very different … Once the pump was installed and clean water was readily available the two women realised that together they could start a small business selling cakes (mandazi). The reduced amount of time the business partners now spent collecting clean water allowed them to dream that their mandazi business was viable. It used to take them one week to earn what they can now earn selling mandazi in one day! The work is less tiresome and rather than wait for the farmer to pay them, they receive the money straight away.
Now both women use the additional money that their business is bringing in to buy salt, soap and clothes as well as sending their children to school! Education was a strong motivation for Violet and Phileas’ business to succeed: Phileas spoke of her wish for one of her four children to be a nurse and one to be a doctor; she wants her children to be able to help the village with cases of malaria, and other diseases and infections.
So from me, Makulata, Violet and Phileas to all Pump Aid’s supporters … ZIKOMO! (Thank you!)
Visit Pump Aid for more information or check out their video from Chimzinga Village:
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.