World Water Day

We shall not finally defeat AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria,
or any of the other infectious diseases that plague the
developing world until we have also won the battle for safe
drinking-water, sanitation and basic health care.

Kofi Annan, United Nations Secretary-General

Horrifying Facts
• 844 million people (approx. one in eight people) don’t have access to safe water supplies
• 98% of water-related deaths occur in the developing world
• 1.4 million children die due to diarrhea resulting from contaminated water every year
• 43% of water-related deaths are attributed to diarrhea
• Every 15 seconds a child dies of a water-related disease

Wells for Zoe are delivering water for life at 1 pound per person, in Northern Malawi!

Friends

Mary trying on the new Presents from Gogo Brenda

Mary trying on the new Presents from Gogo Brenda

Brenda in Lusangazi
Friends are special people in your life and they don’t come more special then Brenda and Liam.
I first met Brenda at a dance in Toureen Ballroom (of romance) in June 2002 when she was a very shy and pretty 17 year old as was I (shy I mean). Maybe I danced with her even before Mary my wife. In the beginning they seemed like twins, and maybe four years together in boarding school in Tourmakeady was the reason. Mary and Brenda have been the closest of friends for maybe 45 years.
I rate Brenda as my best friend,in that on one occasion in my youth I allowed and trusted her to cut my hair: the sign of a true friend.
In October last she had all her injections amidst her terror of needles, to enable her to come with Liam, Barry, Pat and ourselves to Malawi. She was a wonder in the way she took to the villagers and them to her. She is now referred to adoringly as Gogo Brenda (Granny Brenda).
She writes:
I paid my first visit to Malawi in September 2008. I went with my good friends John and Mary Coyne who set up Wells for Zoe. What a wonderful experience I had. I met some extraordinary people. The women of Malawi impressed me most. They seem to do most of the work as well as rearing their families.
Two very special women I met were Mary and Eleana. They live on the farm where their husbands work. I went to visit them in their homes with my friend Mary. They had such a welcome for us. They brought us on a tour of the farm and had a tremendous pride in all the work that is going on there.
They are such happy people with broad smiles and open arms. They love their children and were delighted to introduce them to us. Their needs are very basic and their food very scarce; still they have such a joy in their lives – that really impressed me. Our lives are so different. It taught me so much, I could say the whole experience changed my life. I thank God each day for all the good things in my life.
She Concludes: I’ll be back!

More School Support

Another group of volunteers hoping to make a massive impact again are the post Leaving Cert group from Black College, called the Rock Outreach 2009. Last year, two groups, totalling 45 boys and 22 parents spent the month of August with us. The boys caused a big stir among the local males of a similar age in their ability and willingness to do all the hard work like digging fish ponds!! No self respecting Malawian male would be seen dead doing such menial tasks; a type of work which is only for women.
Three teachers, head of IT, head of sport and the school Matron, from Bishop’s Stortford College in Cambridge, Hertfordshire, UK are coming to do a few weeks with us in early July, to see how they can help. This is a large and expensive public school, catering for 4 to 18 year old boys and girls, boarders and day students, and we are delighted to be associated with them.
And finally, Wootton Basset School, Swindon, Wiltshire, UK are working on a fundraising project for their Year 9, called every child counts. They are planning to help feed the orphans in our new daycare centre, called Áras Kate, in Mzuzu City, where the numbers of little ones, on roll is now in excess of 420!!
The sad story is that the more who come, the poorer they seem to be, as indicated by their lack of clothing and general health. Urban poverty seems much worse than that found in the villages.
Our sincere thanks to Julie Windley and Hester McGunn for finding us through our website: http://www.wellsforzoe.org

Mothers who die, and worse, on International Women’s Day

We brought a new mattress, but the sooner we have a new building the better.

We brought a new mattress, but the sooner we have a new building the better.

Because I am not someone who reads books my family sent me off with loads of appropriate articles for my two week break in Madeira, knowing that I won’t stop working anyway.
One series from the New Internationalist has me in tears, having learned earlier that it was International Women’s day, whatever that may mean, when it’s at home! The old Malawian priest, who had spent most of his days in California, was engaging on this, and on transfiguration, which was the gospel for today.
In February, Charity, our human relations guru in Malawi told us of one of our women (she lives where we work in Lusangazi) who assists villagers, with the birth of their children in her home. She is a birth attendant and has got some government training. The news came on the last day of our visit and we are relying on pictures for the visuals.
We asked how W4Z could help her out. The shopping list was short and shocking; she needed plastic for the roof to keep the water out, a plastic apron, plastic gloves if it was possible, wellingtons, a torch and later a mattress. This to me, looks like the biggest big step backwards from the stable Bethlahem.
This women needs all the help we can give, like a new building, a water pump for clean water, a concrete floor, hygienic walls, a little equipment, not to mention drugs, painkillers. You might well ask, how would I know, but when I had kidney stones recently, the nurses told me that the pain is something like child birth; I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy; I wanted to die it was so bad.
We didn’t commit to Malawi to do anything for thousands of people, we thought in terms of one at a time; one well, one pump, one dam and now alleviating the suffering of one woman or one newborn.
You might think it simplistic, but should we wait for someone else, the government maybe, UNICEF or the UN, who will spend fortunes on research and white jeeps; no, we’ll give it a try and we are now on it.
BUT it is not that simple. Most, 34% of maternal deaths are as a result of haemorrhage, which needs serious consideration, as does the whole package of HIV/Aids, Infection, Hypertension, Anaemia or Obstructed labour. Childbirth seems natural and simple yet it’s not.
Thankfully advice and help is on the way from homebirth midwife and daughter in law, Melissa and friend Johanna.
If this program is to expand, we need training for these remote, rural, birth attendants, Midwife help, ante and post natal clinics and of course an ambulance service.
In Malawi, there are 16 maternal and 37 neonatal infant deaths every day. Drastically understaffed, 95% of the country’s midwives are based in urban centres while most of the population, and deaths, are in the countryside. Nurse midwives are scarce in rural areas, because the work can be seven days a week, as babies don’t recognise weekends. People with such qualifications prefer to work for NGO’s, with less work and more pay, if they stay in Malawi at all.
In Malawi, most rural women give birth at home as a result of the long travel distance and the poor roads; the average travel distance is 20km, on foot, on a bicycle or a wheelbarrow!!
Now comes the worse bit!
The most demeaning nightmare any woman could suffer is what is called an obstetric fistula, caused by prolonged labour where pressure of the child’s head on the pelvis tissue creates a hole which leads to an inability to control urine and faeces. A practice in parts of Malawi which exacerbates this is that the decision to seek medical help is in the hands of the Uncle. You can imagine what happens if he is not cooperative, not around or drunk.
Another traditional or chosen belief is that the first born should be born at home, so that the father should attend, believing that complications indicate infidelity. Pregnancies at a young age, also adds to the number.
Finally Malawi has one doctor and four clinical officers, qualified to carry out fistula repairs in all of Malawi, for 16 million of a population.
Oh! About 8 million won’t ever have this problem.
Every child born is a miracle, but every fistula repaired must be the greatest miracle of all for those women who are chased from their homes, banished by their communities to live and die destitute.
Malawi will tell you it’s the warm heart of Africa, what a load of rubbish
If our little action saves one life, then it will be worthwhile.
Would you like to help us?

Blackrock College and coming to Malawi again

After their enormous inpact on the lives of so many rural, poor, Malawian families, in August 2008, the post Leaving Cert (pre University) students of Blackrock College, Dublin have decided to return to Malawi in even greater numbers this year.
The programme, called the Rock Outreach programme, in unique and definitely special in that these boys opt to take their holiday, together, working in a developing country instead of travelling to the sunspots of the med, or wherever.
They pay all their own travelling and living expenses and whatever money is raised by way of fundraising goes, in this case to Wells for Zoe.
A wonderful extra dimension is achieved in the number of parents who travel as well. Their input last year was fascinating in its diversity. Their links with local women and communities had to be seen to be believed.
We are looking forward to the same youthful energy and enthusiasm again from the boys, together with their inquiring minds and wonderful insights.
All we ask of volunteers is to move towards the people, walk with them for a few days, give no handouts, but
The video shows the variety of their involvement: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVHT9dLllLM
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