Unwrap Family with Joyce Mwale

Dec 14, 2023 | Global Projects, Malawi, Water Wells

At the age of 52, Joyce Mwale still shows incredible strength.  She doesn’t flinch when walking up the hill from The Sonder Project well to her home with a basin full of water on her head.  In fact, she is even smiling.  That’s because she knows the clean water she is carrying keeps her family healthy and harmonious.  “When my family is happy, I am happy,” she tell us.


Veronica Zulu, center with sweater, listens in one of her classes.

Joyce pumping water at the Jonas community well

Before the well was drilled in her community of Jonas, walking up a hill was the least of Joyce’s troubles.  She recalls a time when she was ready to leave her family and go back to her home village due to the immense struggles of sourcing water.  Most nights she would leave her family at home at midnight to walk the perilous path to a water hole several kilometers away.  It would be 7am before she returned after waiting for hours to collect enough water and competing with other women and even wild animals at the water hole.


Veronica Zulu sits on her hostel bed she sleeps on while at school.

Joyce meets with Belia, Sonder Project Country Director in Malawi

The water Joyce would bring home was dirty and contaminated, but it would be the only option for her family to drink, wash and bathe with.  Her children hated going to school because they couldn’t bathe and their uniforms were never clean, and on one occasion, the entire family was infected with cholera, putting a huge financial burden on the household. Joyce’s husband and eldest son tried to help her by accompanying her on her journeys, but this would cause them to miss work and school.  Less income for the family, meant less food and more struggles to pay school fees for her children.  Life was torture for Joyce, all because of water.

Veronica with her hand raised, ready to ask one of her teacher's questions.

The first day Joyce collected clean water from the new well drilled in her community by The Sonder Project in 2021, she admits that they couldn’t stop drinking it.  “My husband bathed 3 times that day,” she recalls with a laugh. Since then, Joyce’s life has transformed from stress to stability. Her children are excited to go to school, and she and her husband have more free time to work on various farms to earn enough money for the household.  “Our life is more free.  As a family, we are much happier.”

Veronica Zulu sits with a group of friends along with two of The Sonder Project staff members in Malawi during a break period.

Joyce enjoying a light moment with her husband, Austin

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