Jason John Hein Memorial Well at Mpatsa School

In December 2014, FPI conducted an initial WASH rapid assessment several schools and villages in the Lower Shire area of southern Malawi. Mpatsa Primary School was targeted with a large enrollment of 2,013 pupils and 45 teachers. There was a non-functional merry-go-round “play pump” and a few small tap sources, but these did not begin to meet the required water supply, and access to clean and safe water remained unmet at the school.

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The play pump is an exciting water pumping technology if cautiously managed; however, it can cause accidents if not properly supervised or maintained. This pump had been broken for several years, and FPI intervened in its replacement. Freshwater board member and supporter, Johnny Hein, and his wife, Ricki, raised funds to replace and rehabilitate the play pump in loving memory of their beloved son and family member Jason John Hein.

After completing the well repair at Mpatsa, Freshwater Project International held a moving handover ceremony at the school. FPI sees water as an entryway to community intervention and empowerment. When the project is community-driven, there is a much higher success rate of participation and ownership by the community and the facilities are sustainable. The communities take ownership of the facility from project inception to a ceremonial ‘handover’ of the facilities to the community.

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Once the community has proven their dedication to the project through participation in the Water Point Committee; supplying all the local materials such as gravel, sand and brick; and supplying labor (from the entire community, not just the committee); the well or sanitation facility “becomes theirs.” When a well finally delivers water for the first time to a community there is a great chorus of cheers and whistles as everyone celebrates this new resource for the community.

The head teacher of Mpatsa has all smiles and had this to say: “Water and sanitation services at this school have been a challenge. My school has large number of students and yet safe drinking water supply remained to be a challenge. Now we are served with this new hope of life (water), I want to thank Freshwater Project International for rehabilitating and replacing this play pump. Actually we have been experiencing accidents at this play pump everyday.”

The group village headman Mwasalapa said: “ I want to thank Freshwater Project International and all our donors for the support rendered to my community, I am now a proud chief, my area has access to safe drinking water, this is the third well to be supported by you in our area!”