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

Malawi Trip 2023: A Recap

In June 2023, five people involved in WASH For Life travelled to Malawi to learn about the country, meet its people, and see first-hand how the organization has helped people. Driving to every region of the country, they visited several of twenty-three total boreholes, which were funded by public donations. As a result, the organization, its donors, and the team are more inspired and dedicated than ever to work towards our mission.

There has been a lot of energy and excitement around our trip to Malawi in the last month; many people have liked and followed our Facebook page and the pictures we have shared there. I am excited to say that we have much more to share. Read on.

How did the trip come together?

The trip to Malawi was planned by Steve Hamer, President of WASH For Life, Inc. Reflecting on why he organized the trip he said, "I wanted to share a life-changing experience."

The five travelers on the trip included Steve Hamer; Dillon Hamer, vice president of St. John’s Starfish Foundation, grandson of Steve Hamer; Kyle Buerger, owner of KB Breakthrough Consulting, uncle of Dillon Hamer; Paul Treffert, CEO of Sheboygan Senior Community; Ethan Kapelka, programmer at Acuity Insurance, and media for WASH For Life. Our tour guide and host was the incredible Patrick Tembwe, who oversees the borehole program in Malawi.

"It's all about relationships, people; the Lakeland University graduates in Malawi, the Tembwe family, the village school children, our donors: the future of WASH For Life." - Steve Hamer

Malawi, the Warm Heart of Africa

Malawi is a beautiful country, with rich culture and friendly people. We traveled to every region, saw many landscapes, visited rural schools, and met many people. Our primary focus was on visiting the schools, where our boreholes were built. We wanted to observe how they were functioning and witness the impact they had on the students, teachers, and surrounding community.

Malawi's Energizing Welcomes

The greeting we had at every school was receptive and energetic. One unforgettable memory is the cheers and chants of young students when they swarmed our van as it drove up the driveway and arrived at the school.

School Donations

We handed out donations of school supplies for the students and teachers: markers, chalk, pens, rulers, markers, and over 400 workbooks. School supplies are in high demand at these schools. There were around five students crowded around one workbook. Many of the young students sat on the floor of the classrooms during class. We also handed out soda, candy, and snacks to the students during their school day, which caused quite the distraction; the soda gave the kids even more energy than what they had before. Many schools held welcoming ceremonies with singing and dancing performances, student-read poems, and many signs of gratitude were given. We felt like special guests, which was an overwhelming and humbling experience for all of us.

At each school, we walked with the head teachers and principals to observe the boreholes. We used the hand pump to bring the water up out of the well. While we didn’t drink the water, we were able to touch and see the water freshly pumped from 125 to 150 feet within the earth. Our boreholes are much deeper than wells, providing safer and more reliable water year-round. The cost of each borehole is around $7,500 and requires regular maintenance with constant use. Last year we began implementing a program that allowed a handful of people from Malawi to learn how to inspect and repair the boreholes, which we wrote about in a blog. At the schools we reiterated the importance of keeping the boreholes functional so that they can be enjoyed for many years to come.

WASH For Life remains committed and focused on building boreholes for schools so that they can enjoy clean and available water. This is not possible without your help, so consider donating online.

We have much more to share about our trip, and we look forward to sharing it with you.


Wanda Sabel
Wanda Sabel

Thank you for sharing your amazing experience in Malawi.


Igo Paddy
Igo Paddy

Ethan, this is really an amazing write-up. Congratulations and keep up the good work.


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