From a distance music can be heard growing steadily louder as we approach the village, white smoke drifts across our vision and even from a distance we can see the outlines of people dancing. A huge change compared to the last time we visited Pinda.
The entire village is jubilant and the mood is contagious. This is a wedding week. Everyone is doing something; men are busy making mats, women are preparing food and children run back and forth.
In just a few days, Maria, the young girl who last showed us around Pinda village will be getting married to her childhood sweetheart, Moses, the grandson of the Chief Pinda. Weddings excite anyone, anywhere, but for the residents of Pinda life has been tough and such a joyous occasion lifts the entire village. On seeing us arrive an old man approaches us with a spring in his step, “not many people get to wed these days in the village” he whispers. We believe him.
Still with about a week to go tens of guests are flocking to Pinda village, they bring with them maize, meat & livestock as presents for the bride and groom and as a way to help contribute to the festivities. Noticeably absent is anyone bringing water, water is a scarce resource in Mchinji, and what is available has to be used wisely. Fortunately, since our first visit the Elephant Pump has been installed at the heart of the village. The same pump that Maria was so excited about last time we visited. The well is the only nearby source of safe water and will be used to cater for the entire wedding.
The party spirit continues and when some uninvited guests from pump aid arrive, they are approached by beaming smiles and immediately offered some of the beer being brewed in the village. We asked what the main ingredients in the beer were and we were surprised to hear that it was in fact water drawn from the elephant pump. A local woman, named Christina sat down with us and starting chatting about the wedding preparations, it turns out she is the groom’s cousin. She explains that none of this would have been possible without the elephant pump. She describes a wedding she attended ten years previously where a sudden outbreak of cholera mercilessly struck the village and the bodies of children lay still on the ground come wedding day. The cheerful mood turned somber with her story, but with a source of safe water for the whole village now, at least she had reasons to be encouraged.
We returned to the hub at the center of the village and Christina, beaming at her friends begun preparing some large pans of rice for the wedding feast.
Moses & Maria’s wedding was still a week away at this point, and by that time excitement would be high.
Read part 1 of Maria and Moses’ story, ‘Life before the pump’ by clicking here.