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A letter from Jodi McGill in Malawi

may 2014

In our January newsletter we mentioned that the rains were late in coming. Well, they continued until about the middle of May, so the reservoir is full and hopefully the crop yield will be adequate to meet people’s needs.

We also mentioned that Malawi was going to have elections for president, members of parliament and local officials. Today, May 20, is the day, and we continue to pray for a peaceful and fair election day and that the results will be peacefully received this week.

Thank you all for your prayers and thoughts while I was away in the U.S.A. doing my required clinical practice to be relicensed as a Family Nurse Practitioner. I am awaiting the final feedback from the Georgia Board of Nursing but am anticipating everything to go smoothly.  I volunteered at a clinic for vulnerable people across from the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in downtown Atlanta called the Community Advanced Practice Nurses Clinic. The clinic operates on a sliding scale with most people paying nothing and some paying up to $20. The clients ranged from teenage runaways living on the street, some of them coming for required physicals to enter a shelter or work/drug rehabilitation program; immigrants’ kids needing the usual school entry physicals; families of foreign graduate students; refugees; women and children fleeing family violence; and people trapped by poverty and/or drug and alcohol addiction. Some clients have been coming to the clinic for 10 years and view the clinic as their primary care facility. Care providers included medical students from Morehouse University and nurse practitioner and public health master’s students from Emory University. It was a great working, caring, and learning environment.

Existing hand-dug well producing highly contaminated and very brackish water. The Shire River can be seen in the background.

One morning while waiting for the clinic to open I used the time to visit the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. It is a very moving and inspirational national monument. One of MLK Jr.’s many famous quotes resonated with what I see the PC(USA) and the Church of Central Africa, Presbyterian doing as a way of putting their faith into action. MLK Jr. said, “I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture of their minds, and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits.” Locally and internationally the church is engaged in meeting the myriad of needs of people, including the work in which Jim and I are involved in health and water and sanitation. 

One program that many of you know of and have helped with is the Synod Scholarship Fund for Secondary School Students. To better link the funds that are donated to the Scholarship Fund a separate ECO account with the PC(USA) is being set up designated specifically for this Scholarship Fund. This should ensure that funds will be more quickly received and reporting on the funds should be easier and more rapid as well. The new ECO account number is E052170, Livingstonia Scholarships Secondary and Post Secondary.

The drilling team from Mzuzu with community laborers drilling to a fresh aquifer in Chikoti, Mozambique

PC(USA) partnerships in Africa have provided interesting links in our work, which in turn have led to opportunities in sharing the holistic ministry of the Church.  Jim has recently been involved in using the private sector drilling teams that have been trained through his work with the Development Department of the Synod of Livingstonia to provide fresh water across the Malawi border in Mozambique.  The PC(USA) regional liaison for Southern Africa, Doug Tilton, was speaking to the Outreach Foundation about their problems in assisting the very needy communities in Tete Province of Mozambique with water, so Doug made the connection that the hand-drilling techniques that we are training might be a solution for these communities. 

The need for safe and fresh water can be met through low-cost hand-drilling techniques. The finished product of a hand-drilled well cannot be distinguished from an expensive mechanically drilled well.

After an exploratory visit across the border of the southernmost point of Malawi (500 miles from Mzuzu), it was seen that the needs in those post-conflict communities are tremendous, but getting mechanical drilling rigs to the sites is prohibitively expensive. We found the communities were drinking water directly from the Shire River and determined that there was good potential for hand-drilling wells that could provide safe water.  However, there is a tremendous problem due to the brackish nature of the water found in many aquifers, and people therefore go to the river for its fresh water. 

With many thanks to the support of the Outreach Foundation, the hand-drilling teams were able to provide two wells, potable water that is significantly fresher than that of the shallow wells used and much safer than the river.  Speaking with the communities, we now hope to be able train local teams of drillers to be able to provide the services themselves and begin to meet the need.

You can read more about our work and see other newsletters as well as give toward our support at (or use the "Read more" link below).


The 2014 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 143
Read more about Jim and Jodi McGill's ministry

Write to Jim McGill
Write to Jodi McGill
Individuals: Give online to E200385for Jim and Jodi McGill's sending and support
Congregations: Give to D506718 forJim and Jodi McGill's sending and support



  • Belated birthday greetings to Joseph and John, and best wishes for the coming year. In our congregation we have a set of twins, Jonathan and Jacob, who are now freshmen in high school. It's been fun to watch them grow, especially after I could tell one from the other! One time I just had it figured out by their hair, and their dad gave them a very close haircut! Both of my husband's parents were fraternal twins, but it didn't happen to the next generation. What a blessing J & J are, and I thank God for giving them life! by Mary Buchele on 08/15/2014 at 4:10 p.m.

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