Agnes collects water from the Wibogholo River in Malawi.
Agnes (front) collects water from the Wibogholo River in Malawi.

Quenching Thirst and Restoring Hope Through Wells of Salvation

Agnes Mwanja, 35, is a hardworking subsistence farmer and mother of five living in northern Malawi. Without a safe water source, Agnes and her daughters toil exhaustively to find something — anything — to drink. The family typically makes six round trips to the Wibogholo River, a small body of water that is teeming with dirt, debris and bacteria.

“When it rains, we draw muddy water,” Agnes mourns. “We are drinking together with animals, and you can even see the animal droppings all around. My girls go to school in dirty uniforms.”

Still, Agnes gives thanks when she can find water at all. During Malawi’s dry season, the Wibogholo River evaporates into nothing, so Agnes must walk four hours to fill her buckets at the distant Upiwo River. Snakes and leopards lie along the path, adding another element of danger to an already strenuous journey.

In developing countries such as Malawi, many mothers like Agnes risk their lives to find water for their households. With no access to clean water, their families must drink from contaminated streams, rivers or shallow wells that frequently make them sick. Women and children often rise before daybreak and walk many miles to reach these distant bodies of water, sacrificing their safety to quench their thirst.

To address these heartbreaking challenges and build a brighter future for struggling communities, Cross Catholic Outreach is partnering with the Diocese of Wa in Ghana, the Diocese of Karonga in Malawi and the Diocese of Chipata in Zambia. In alignment with the Church’s value for integral human development, our joint outreach will bless nearly 52,000 lives by installing 65 wells, repairing an inadequate water system at a Catholic hospital and improving access to sanitation, Catholic education and spiritual formation.

Throughout the Lenten season, U.S. parishes, schools, groups, families and individuals have participated in this outreach to build a brighter future for struggling communities. But there is still plenty of time to join this cause and make a difference! Communities in countries such as Malawi, Ghana, Zambia, Haiti and Nicaragua remain in desperate need of safe water. Engage your parish in the urgent mission to quench thirst and transform lives. Working together to install clean wells, water systems and sanitation blocks will provide the perfect opportunity for families to put faith into action and strengthen the poor with a much-needed reminder of God’s love!

For more information about our water projects, please visit

Father John Bosco Eledi, the diocesan development coordinator for the Diocese of Wa, Ghana, stands with the village water committee in the community of Babile. With support from Cross Catholic Outreach and its donors, Fr. John Bosco was able to oversee the successful installation of a clean well in Babile last year.