March 2015

Monthly Archives

Reflecting on Africa

I’ve been back from Africa now for just over a week, and I love sharing about the trip over and over with friends and family, including our DO family. Last Saturday we had a large gathering of DO volunteers in Columbus, where I was able to share what God is doing in Africa through us. It was a very encouraging time, and ended with prayer. We prayed not only for the villagers getting the LifePumps, but also for Amelia who is writing the Pumps & Systems article, for our driver in Malawi who is having family challenges, for the shipment getting cleared in Ethiopia, and so on.

People are always amazed at the stories—especially stories about how marriages are staying intact because of the LifePump.

This trip has made me examine my own life. I’ve realized how different our family would be if my wife, Mary Hannah, had to leave for 12 hours to go get water every day. I can also imagine my own kids, 2 and 5, in ragged clothes with a very different future ahead, just because they were born in an African village. Perhaps they would be like those kids I saw in Africa, 12 or 13 years old, who already have their own kids. We were told that in many cases parents encourage marriage at such an early age so that they have fewer mouths to feed. What parent in the U.S. has ever had to think of that?

One of the most impactful parts of this last trip—my 4th to Africa now—is how I’ve seen the transformation of villages over time. Over the course of 1.5 years, I’ve watched one particular village in Malawi transformed because of the LifePump, and it continues. It gives me goosebumps every time I talk about how many lives are radically improved in the name of Christ. It also makes me realize the tremendous responsibility that we have in Design Outreach—to ensure that the LifePump is available now, and in the future.

It is a great privilege to represent the DO team and the many sacrifices that have made this all possible. But this is about more than that. When I see the people—especially kids in the villages—it’s personal. It’s no longer about a pump that we’re designing to “last longer and go deeper.” It’s people’s lives that we’re talking about; people like Vickness, who tells us that there is now a school built for the little kids in Malawi. It’s about stories like those we heard in Zambia; because of the LifePump, large gardens are being grown at schools—which means many more kids will stay in school because food is a primary reason they attend. This sort of thing affects generations to come, and can give them a fighting chance to break the poverty cycle. What a wonderful privilege and deep responsibility God has given DO to carry out!

I wish I could take everyone to Africa to see, smell, and feel what I’ve gotten to experience. To date, there are over 2,000 people who are being directly impacted by the LifePump, and we are just getting started! To continue strong, it takes all of us—prayer warriors, volunteers, and donors. Thank you and God Bless!

Greetings From Malawi

We just arrived back to Lilongwe today after being in the field for a couple of days with very limited email access. It was a long journey, as we visited four different villages—three of which have LifePumps, and one that is set to get one. In fact, World Vision is anticipating the installation of 8 more LifePumps very soon.

The first village we visited was Zolomondo — the very first LifePump permanent installation site. When we arrived kids were pumping water and soon many people came to greet us. We were able to talk with Vickness again, and she was telling us that even since our last visit she has been able to build a second brick home, which she now rents to her sister — all possible because of the LifePump. She was telling us that new schools are being built and kids are staying in school longer because of the LifePump. She also says that now the wives can stay home during the day, and as a result marriages are doing much better — because of the LifePump. It’s really amazing how the LifePump can do so much more than just provide good health with clean water. We checked pump performance, and it’s exactly the same as when installed, so we are very happy. I performed the village maintenance training.

The next village we visited was Chilekwa, where the second Malawi LifePump was installed in November 2013. The pump is also performing the same as when it was installed. Dixon, one of the WV pump techs, provided the village maintenance training.

The third village we visited was near Mynakose (our 3rd installation site). The villagers showed us where they get water—its surface was about 100 meters from the village. The water serves a few villages, or about 1100 people. However, it’s contaminated since animals drink there and it’s exposed the elements. During the dry season they said it goes completely away.

The fourth village we visited was Mynakose, and once again everything is looking good. This pump is outfitted with a data logger, so we replaced the SD card to download the usage data. We noticed a small amount of oil at the weep hole but are not concerned. The government official provided the village maintenance training.

At about 3:00 P.M., we started our long journey back to Lilongwe for the exit meetings. We arrived about 5:30pm to the National Office, b ut it was late and most staff had gone home. However, we were invited to the National Director’s home (Bob) to debrief. When we arrived we were greeted by his family and invited to stay for dinner. A couple other WV staff working with us were also invited, and it was a real honor and pleasure. They presented us with a HPP suncatcher gift. We are so happy to have gotten the chance to serve in Malawi.

This morning we arrived in Washington D.C, concluding this trip that has been very exciting and short. I thank God for the opportunity to serve with fellow believers and represent our DO team making this all possible.

God bless,


Greetings From Zambia

I write to you from deep in the bush in Mumbwa area, Zambia. Accompanying me is a journalist named Amelia, and a Design Outreach partner named Dina.

We have had a couple amazing days here, though exhausting, but God is at work! We arrived at the Mumbwa ADP on Monday and were warmly greeted by nearly a dozen staff. After introductions, I was able to present the first part of our training, which lasted about 2 hours. The pump minders (technicians), WASH managers, and other staff were all really engaged and asked good questions. Dina and I were able to glean some good ideas for minor training improvements. As always we ran into a hiccup when one of our tools for the gearbox training didn’t work as expected, which we will fix and send back. Other than that, Wilfred (ADP manager) said that the training seemed straight forward and the LifePump is appropriate technology. We learned that World Vision (WV) Zambia is very excited to install more LifePumps, and will install their remaining 2 within 2 weeks.

After training in the office, we headed out to the first site, which is called Big Concession. The road is very bumpy and covered in dust even though it’s still rainy season. After a couple hours of driving, we arrived at the LifePump in Big Concession, and it was a beautiful site to see. Dina and Amelia were also both impressed — seeing this machine that we’ve worked on for so long producing water where it wasn’t possible before. This well is a whopping 95 meters deep when you include boreholes, which is very very deep. (The pump itself is 60 meters or 20 pipes deep). The village people were there too, and were very thankful. We took various measurements on the pump, installed the new SonSet Solutions satellite data logger, and provided village level training to the village water committee members. This lasted about one hour. There was an old man at the well pumping who claims to be 107 years old, and he pumped about 20 gallons of water! The people feel the pump is easy to use, and we didn’t see any signs of performance degradation. And then the village provided us a wonderful dinner.

On the next day we went to the ADP office after staying in a nearby hotel. After a wonderful time of singing some old hymns and a short devotion with the WV staff, we headed out to the Kafwikamo Primary School, where a LifePump was installed last November. When we arrived after another long bumpy ride, we saw many people around the school. We met the School Manager and learned many interesting things. He was describing that the LifePump replaced an India Mark II at their school. The India Mark II would break down every 3 months and cost the school too much money in maintenance, which cut from their school supply budget. He also talked about how the LifePump is easier for the kids, and that they are growing a large garden now (which we saw, complete with tomatoes, corn, and other greens). This LifePump serves about 500 people, with about 375 of those kids from the school. He was very very thankful for the LifePump. We also took various measurements on pump performance, and provided village level maintenance training.

After visiting the Kafwikamo Primary School site we drove really deep into the bush to another school called Kawane Community School. This school is located in a former national par k so we were looking for elephants along the way, but unfortunately didn’t see any. Last November the school received an India Mark II pump and we saw the old open dug well along the way. It’s about 5 km from the school, and people would go there to get water for the school. When we arrived at the school, we saw the India Mark II with lots of people around again. The pump is unfortunately not working good and is losing it’s prime very quickly. The first person in the morning must pump 35 minutes to first get water – a big problem. This would be a perfect site for the LifePump — we just need a donor to help us place one there. The kids were a lot of fun and made me miss my little Brody and Rachel.

Since the day was long, we ended the day in Mumbwa again and plan to drive into Lusaka to fly to Lilongwe Malawi on Wednesday.

This trip is my 4th to Africa now and it’s always a great reminder for me personally on why we do what we do. The transformation is hard to describe in words or pictures. I’m thankful that Amelia is along capturing this story for Pumps & Systems magazine — she has seen and heard many wonderful stories how the LifePump is changing lives. It’s wonderful to be using the engineering skills God has given me to serve people in the name of Jesus. This is the rainy season and people are still short on water — especially clean water. During the long dry season (where, of course, there is less water) people desperately need water for drinking, cooking, washing, and gardens for food security. We’ve heard stories of people walking hours every day for water and being so tired at the end of the day that they can’t even prepare supper. We are so blessed to live in a country where we don’t have to worry about such things. It’s such a privilege to be representing the entire DO team — our volunteers, our partners, our donors, and our prayer warriors. Thank you!