Local missionary heads back to Africa

Jessi Stitt will dig wells in Malawi

Barbara Hootman

Jessi Stitt, a seasoned volunteer missionary is making her third trip to Africa with Marion Medical Mission to drill water wells that will provide fresh water for natives that have none.  She will spend three weeks partnering with African communities to provide fresh water sources to more than 2,500 villages in remote areas of Malawi, Zambia and Tanzania.

Stitt will leave for Africa on Oct. 3, along with 40 other US volunteers and Marion Medical Mission (MMM) founders Tom and Jocelyn Logan.

“The villages that will receive the wells will have the digging done when we arrive with pipe, pumps and people who know how to finish the project,” Jessie Stitt said.  “It will be hot, dusty, and dry because this is the end of the dry season in Malawi.  It is exhausting work but very fulfilling because you know that you are doing something that really matters.”

UNICEF reported that in sub-Sahara Africa, one in five children die before their fifth birthday because they lack potable water, and 663 million people around the globe rely on ponds, streams and other exposed and untreated sources for their drinking water.  For a $400 donation, MMM provides an African village of approximately 150 people with a sustainable source of safe drinking water.

Currently in Malawi there are six million people at risk of starvation due to the drought/famine caused by El Nino.  For a $20 donation to MMM, a 110 pound bag of maize is bought and distributed to a family providing them with the necessary food assistance needed for a month.

Stitt is looking forward to returning to Africa.

“I am excited and blessed to be able to return to Malawi to help in such a tangible way,” Stitt said.  “To see the smiles on the faces of the children, to hold hands with the grandmothers who have never seen clean running water, to dance and sing with joy with the mothers who no longer have to get up and walk miles for daily water, my heart overflows and I know why I’m doing this. This is a privilege to be able to do this.”

Stitt is familiar with the area in Africa that she will be helping.  She lived in Malawi and taught kindergarten through second grade.

“The teachers spoke English, and we were able to get the kids on their way to speaking English,” she said. “I learned a few works of their language, but not much.  While I am there this time, I will stay longer than the three weeks that I will be working with MMM. I plan to visit some of the people that I knew when I lived there. I enjoy the more simple ways of life, and the natives.”

Stitt’s first mission trip was to Nicaragua her senior year in college.

“I spent a week and I was hooked on mission work,” she said.  “I also taught English in Haiti for one year. It was the hardest mission trip that I have ever been involved in because it was during the aftermath of the earth quake the country suffered in 2010.  It was devastation everywhere. I enjoy the MMM trips because they achieve so much like 2,678 wells last year in a little over six weeks.

“Clean water can help keep the natives stay out of hospitals and from getting sick from unclean water.  Now they are in a drought and have been for the past two years.  There is also a terrible famine going on, and MMM is helping to provide food as well as clean water.”

Stitt said she has never been sick for more than a day while doing mission work.

“I travel light taking only what I need which includes pills to purify water, sunglasses and water bottles which hold about two liters each,” she said.  “I love the work hardships and all. I learned long ago how to survive taking bucket baths and be clean.  I’ve had a lot of camping experience which has come in handy many times during mission trips.  I work for Camp Grier in Old Fort which does a lot of outdoor adventure activities and mission program for children.  I have a lot of survival experience.  I do mission work simply because I can, and I love to travel.”

Stitt is grateful to Black Mountain Presbyterian Church for the support with her mission work.

“They have been most generous in helping me with travel expenses,” she said.  “I am also available to speak to civic organizations about my mission work.  I have power point presentations.”

For more information about MMM visit the website mmmwater.org.  Donations are always welcome.  Phone 618-997-5365 or e-mail info@mmmwater.org.

Stitt can be reached at jessi.stitt@gmail.com.