From the Field

From problems to prayers answered: Ireen’s walk for water

Ireen gets water at the new borehole well installed in her community. Having clean water will be a game changer for her future.

Nine-year-old Ireen from Malawi was World Vision magazine’s cover story in spring 2020. Her mother, Chimwemwe, the Chichewa word for happiness, is a single mother raising four children on her own. She desperately needed the change that comes with clean water. She didn’t want her bright daughter, Ireen, to follow the rugged path she’s had to walk: dropping out of school early to work on farms, marrying too young, eking out a living, and rising before dawn to collect water from a dirty stream, one of many trips per day to satisfy the needs of her family.

In August 2020, World Vision Malawi’s drilling team did the unthinkable as COVID-19 raged. Masked for safety, with 150 excited villagers watching from a distance, the drillers struck clean water. It took persistence and prayer.

Golden Bhikha's drilling crew maintained strict COVID-19 precautions to stay safe while drilling.
Golden Bhikha’s drilling crew maintained strict COVID-19 precautions to stay safe while drilling. (©2020 World Vision/photo by Atlas Productions)

“God has fought for us,” says lead driller Golden Bhikha. “We have been praying for Ireen to get water. And now God has helped us and now we have water.”

But it wasn’t easy. Drilling Ireen’s well took days.

“We did meet a lot of problems,” says Golden. “We had to drill at least three places. We didn’t find water.” The fourth try — drilling 150 feet into the earth — was a charm.

“I am very happy in my heart,” says Golden. “Our whole group. We know that now Ireen has clean water. That is going to be very helpful in her upbringing. More especially, when you look at her health. More especially, when you think about the coronavirus. She will now have clean water to be using during this period.”

Ireen is overjoyed.

“I was so happy, like I’ve never been in my life,” says Ireen. “My prayers have been answered. The water is very close now.”

The drillers already know the impact their work will have as well.

“She will no longer be late for school,” says Golden. “She will no longer have to walk a long distance, meeting all kinds of things (such as snakes and hyenas) along the way. She is going to live a very healthy life.”

And a happy life too. Ireen’s now sponsored by Ruth in Washington state, who read her story in World Vision magazine. Other children in Ireen’s village are now sponsored too.

Instead of walking what the average woman in developing countries walks for water daily — 6 kilometers, or about 3.7 miles — Ireen and her mother now walk less than four minutes for clean water right in their village.

Happiness, who had been the number one student at school before she had to drop out, has a new calling as a member of the water committee that will ensure the borehole lasts.

“We were taught how to fix this thing,” she says. “So, we know what we are supposed to do.”

For Happiness, clean water is an answer to prayer. “I am so happy that God has actually answered my prayer,” she says. “I will continue praying so … He can take care of us and He will take care of our borehole.”

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