Several members of our international team have been working together in a joint UK, South Africa and Malawi venture to establish a much-needed supply of water for the village of Mwansama, which is located in the Blantyre district in the south of Malawi. The soil there is very fertile but needs water to ensure good crop production and management.
The story starts in September 2018, following the return to Malawi, after many years overseas in Europe, of a catholic priest, Fr Blaise, to his home village. On discovering that the supply of water to his community had not improved over the years, he decided to make an appeal to the parishes of St Joseph's and St Helen's in Crosby, Liverpool, where he had been based, to try and raise £10k for the project.
Some six months later, enough money had finally been raised through the generosity of the parishioners of both churches. Johan Everson was already aware of Fr Blaise's appeal and, during this time, he had exchanged his pomegranate farmer's hat for the one he wears for his expertise in irrigation schemes. Johan provided advice to Fr Blaise as to what type of construction was needed, as well as an appraisal of the various quotes received to carry out the work.
Within a month and following underground sonic tests, a trial borehole was started. Finally, after a long disappointing day of drilling and finding nothing, everyone's patience was rewarded late in the afternoon when, at 67 meters, water was discovered.
The next stage was to install the casing for the well, followed by the erection of a 5,000-litre water tower. Unfortunately, this essential work was interrupted in March by cyclone Idai, which hit Malawi and neighbouring Mozambique and Zimbabwe and caused widespread devastation and death. Finally, the work was completed with the installation of a submersible pump in the well, together with solar panels to drive the machinery.
Needless to say, Fr Blaise is delighted to have this invaluable source of water which will bring much stability to the local economy of his community, both as a supply of water to the villagers themselves and in their crop production. "It has been very wonderful", he said, "and soon we will start yielding the fruit of it."
Long may the villagers of Mwansama benefit from the combined generosity of Liverpool parishioners and the expertise of Johan Everson in finding such a vital resource – water!