“For as many times as I’ve approved the funding of water well drilling, this was my first opportunity to see the drilling of a well for myself. I think I had a romanticized view of what it would be like. What actually happened was much more inspiring.”

Cassidy in Ofesi 2023

Cassidy Miller is the Outreach International Senior Manager of Training and Support. She recently spent time in Malawi with our partner organization, Outreach Development Program (ODP). ODP is made up of Human Development Facilitators (HDFs) who work with local communities to address issues of poverty. Cassidy helps train and support groups like these all over the world.

One community ODP is working with is the village of Ofesi. A facilitator has been working with the community group there to help them identify their own poverty-related issues. One issue that stood out as a priority was insufficient access to clean water.

Cassidy & Ofesi Community Group 2023

Community-Led Development

As the community group met and discussed the issue, they decided to pursue the solution of drilling a water well. Next, under the guidance of the HDF, they wrote a proposal to have the project funded, and submitted it to Outreach International for approval.

Water Well Drilling Day in Ofesi

Cassidy was on site in Ofesi for the day of water well drilling. The whole community watched and waited with a sense of hope, anticipation, and excitement. But as the drilling continued throughout the day, water did not appear.

Cassidy said, “I had heard of dry wells, where drillers never find water. Or there could be areas where they find water but it’s insufficient for a well that must sustain an entire community.”

Hard Work Brings Hope

For eight hours, the entire community watched. And while the drill worked, the people danced, sang, and had absolute confidence that they’d strike water by sundown.

“Then it happened,” Cassidy remembers. “Not like I thought they would, but they found water.

“It started as wet soil coming up from the drill. It was promising. Then, it became mud. Then, a puddle. And finally, as the Ofesi community watched and cheered, the water erupted from the earth.”

“It was a picture-perfect moment for me that was visually stunning. For the community, it meant so much more. That fountain meant fewer water-borne illnesses, healthier children, less burden for wives and mothers. It meant more time for children to go to school. They could spend less money on health concerns, and more on food and school fees. And it meant an overall improvement in their quality of life.”

This clean water is now benefitting 288 people in 48 households.

Expertise at Outreach

Cassidy spends her days training our partners around the world to facilitate thousands of projects in hundreds of field program locations. It’s difficult for one project to stand out as more impactful than others. But most inspiring is the ultimate result that the people who are living in chronic poverty are the ones who solve their own issues.

“Watching the group members singing and dancing in celebration of their hard work and the changes they have been able to make for themselves, their families, and their community reminded me why I do this job and why our work is so important.”

How to Help

To learn more about the methodology of community-led development, and the programs that lead to results like in this amazing story, read more about our process on our website.