In the first of three diary blogs, we follow Heather and Rory as they travel to Malawi to volunteer with The One Foundation – an organization that aims to bring drinking water to those in the world most in need of it. The One Foundation does incredible work through selling their bottles of One Water and fundraising, in order to be able to help communities and save lives by making drinking water readily available.

As a result they are the English Oak Buildings charity of choice, and last month saw Rory and Heather head to Africa. Read Heather’s diary here:

Africa: a continent of complex cultures, tribal systems, amazing wildlife, and a fascinating yet incomprehensible history – and I’m on my way there, since I’m heading to Malawi for the experience of a life time!

My trip is an insight into the great work the One Foundation do with the NGO partners in Malawi. Did you know that lack of access to clean water and sanitation is one of the biggest global killers today??

Despite working for Bidvest, I wasn’t aware of this fact or the great work that the One Foundation do across this diverse continent until I met Duncan Goose and his incredible team behind the One Water brand. With an audacious and yet achievable goal (if global financial support can be harnessed) to ensure that every human being has access to fresh water and sanitation, plus the fact that every penny of profit goes towards attaining this goal in Malawi, then you can’t help but admire the dedication exhibited by Duncan, Ric and their team.

So I’m on my way. Packing is complete, and the suitcase contains more baby-clothes, footballs, pens, and paper than anything for me – something I’ve never achieved before! Malaria tablets have been taken, various injections for unpronounceable diseases received, my two year old Isaac has been dropped at Grandma’s and the trip is beginning – a 10 hour flight to Johannesburg, a 2 hour flight to Blantyre, and there we’re there!

My emotions are mixed about how I will react to seeing young children that are no older than Isaac facing a daily fight for survival. Will we really be able to make a difference in such a short period? At this point tomorrow we’ll be there so time will tell…

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I’ve been here a couple of days now and only just felt ready to write. It has taken this long to process everything I’ve seen and to understand my emotions. Malawi is beautiful. We are in rural Malawi – impressive mountain ranges (which used to be covered in trees now stripped bare), vivid colours and the most warm, welcoming people I have ever met.

Having landed at Blantyre airport we headed straight to a community in Chileka. Remote doesn’t begin to describe their homestead. This community had two broken pumps. One hadn’t worked for 3 years and in an effort to keep the second pump working they had used the first pump’s parts to fix it. This second pump had then broken 2 years ago and they were now reliant on water from a mosque 400 metres away. Whilst not far (!) this had its own challenges as not only did it put pressure on a bore hole already supplying many people, but it meant that everyone had to queue for water.

Each of these communities are required to have bore hole committees with each family paying in an amount every month for the servicing and maintenance of their pump. In addition each committee is asked to nominate an individual who can be trained to repair the pump. In this case the individual had died and the pumps had broken.

My heart immediately went out to the children. Whilst Vic and his team (including trainees) were fixing the pumps other members of his crew were entertaining the children with football, games and singing – they loved it!!

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An hour and half later with a promise to set up a borehole committee and to send an individual to be trained we headed to another community.

The warmth and welcome we received was once again unforgettable. This community had a UNICEF funded pump. Through their committee they had tried without success to fix it. After several hours (dusk was falling) Vic’s team realised that despite reporting a depth of 55 metres the hole had only been drilled to 18 meters. Vic and his team however continued to work tirelessly to ensure some water at least came from the pump. It was humbling to see the joy on everyone’s face when it finally arrived. The singing, rejoicing and thanks we received for presenting the chief of the village with a football for the entire community is something I will never forget.

Tired, emotional and reflective, we headed to the Fisherman’s Rest lodge.

Please, please if you do nothing else make One Water your water of choice. 100% profit goes to funding NGOs all over Africa and the joy and difference you make will be life changing!

Want to know more about One Water and The One Foundation? Visit their website www.onedifference.org, and pick up a bottle of One Water next time you’re thirsty! 

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