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top view aerial shot with drone of green forest with rocks and blue water in Monkey Bay, L
  • Ethan Kapelka

Empowering Education: The Impact of Boreholes at Rural Schools in Malawi

I hope you are all having a wonderful start to 2024. In this blog, I want to provide an update on our existing boreholes in Malawi, the boreholes added this past year, our vision for the future of the borehole program and fundraising efforts.

Our Year in Review: 2023

In the last year, our donors supported the construction of two new boreholes in Malawi: one at Kaluluma Secondary School in Kasungu and one at Kaluwero School in Mzimba.

Borehole # 24 was contributed by the efforts of the Starfish Foundation. The Starfish Foundation is a student-run organization at St. John’s Northwestern Military Academy. Last year, they raised the funds for their second borehole by holding community outreach events and selling bottles of water at their high school’s sports games. They chose to place the borehole at Kaluluma Secondary School in Kasungu, Malawi, which supports 556 students and 19 teachers.

Girls sing during the drilling of the borehole.

Borehole # 25 was contributed by Treffert family and friends. Paul Treffert led fundraising efforts by holding informative presentations with family and friends, telling stories about our recent trip to Malawi in June 2023, and showing the need for clean and accessible water. The borehole was built at Kaluwero School in Mzimba and will support 490 students for many years to come.

Paul and his daughter Emily will be traveling to Malawi in June 2024 to visit the friendly village students and join in the celebration of the family borehole.

Paul Treffert giving a Malawi presentation in Mequon, WI in December 2023.

WASH For Life Borehole Program

We often get questions asking, “what is a borehole?” or “how is a borehole different than a well?” These questions arise because the definition of a borehole is different in Malawi compared to the United States. Malawian boreholes are what Americans would call “drilled wells.” On the other hand, Malawian “wells” are simple and typically constructed by use of hand shovels. They merely dig until ground water is reached. Malawi’s “boreholes,” which we are constructing, are much deeper than wells, pumping water from 125-150 feet within the earth. Boreholes provide safer and more reliable water year-round.

Children collecting water from a simple well, in Malawi, not a borehole.

The first water pumped from Kaluwero School borehole.

Our 25 boreholes are now supporting over 12,500 students since the drilling began in 2017, allowing students to spend more time in the classroom and less time fetching water from sources sometimes miles away. Furthermore, it provides a cleaner and healthier environment for students and teachers. While boreholes are more expensive to drill than a well, they are a better investment to support a greater number of people more reliably. We invest a sufficient amount of resources every year to be able to sustain our existing boreholes, and we are happy to say that all of our boreholes continue to function through our continued repair and maintenance efforts.

Commonly cited Positive Outcomes of Boreholes:
  • Reduce risk of waterborne disease like Cholera

  • Reduce disruption of lessons due to accessible water

  • Clean water for preparing meals

  • Hygiene is improved: cleaning class toilets, washing after visiting, cleaning classrooms etc.

Our New Application System

Last year, we diligently surveyed and accepted 10 schools through our new application program. The first part of the process of constructing a new borehole is deciding where to build it. This new application makes it easy for us to determine which schools have the greatest need and are willing to accept the responsibility of a borehole.

A page from the borehole application for Kaluwero School.

Our new application lists information for number of teachers and students, and location of school, including GPS coordinates. It includes questions for the head teachers, parents, and student representatives at the schools to write the challenges they face, how a borehole would be beneficial to the school, and how they would contribute to maintaining the borehole. We look at the applications to determine which school should be the recipient of the next borehole when our fundraising goal is met.

Through our new application process, we currently have 11 proposed boreholes in northern and central Malawi. You can read about our next goal towards helping schools and proposed boreholes here. As we continue to raise donations, we are able to build more boreholes and help more students access clean and safe water.

Our Next Goals

The following represent the number of students at each school with accepted applications and proposed boreholes:

1.  556 students

2.  490 students

3.  410 students

4.  530 students

5.  518 students

6.  2,300 students (2 boreholes)

7.  454 students

8.  400 students

9.  405 students

10. 500 students

Total Support: 6,563 students with 11 boreholes proposed

Total Cost: $82,500 ($7,500 per borehole)

Assuming a borehole life of 10 years:

That’s $1.25 per student per year

That’s $0.003 cents per day

For only $5 dollars you can support four students with clean water for a year.

Yes, you read that right: It only costs $1.25 to support one student with clean water for an entire year. Each borehole has the capacity to help hundreds of people have easy access to clean water. Every donation makes a significant difference. If you wish, you can donate here.

Looking to the Future

The future of our borehole program lies within the hearts and efforts of those who are most touched by the mission. One great example of this is the GRO organization of Sheboygan County, who have revitalized their fundraising efforts in the last year, inspired by the efforts of WASH For Life and the trip to Malawi in 2023. GRO is an organization of six high school sophomores with the mission to create a more prosperous future for village school children.  They strive to contribute to the Malawi borehole program to help girls spend more time in the classroom and less time fetching water. Learn more about GRO here.

All of the good work we have done this year wouldn’t have been possible without your support. Thank you for spreading the word, donating, and caring about our goal of providing clean and healthy water to rural students in Malawi, Africa.

You Truly Make a Difference


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