I would like to take this opportunity to talk about an organization that is near and dear to my heart. Seven years ago, my friend David Epperson started a not-for-profit organization in Malawi, Africa. There are countless charities in Africa but most are focused on temporary relief instead of teaching these communities how to be sustainable long term. E3 differentiates itself and focuses on sustainability by Educating, Empowering, and Employing the people of Malawi. I have been the treasurer of E3 for 5 years now and I am so proud of the wonderful work that they are doing. I really encourage you to see for yourself the difference E3 has made for so many people.
Malawi is one of the least-developed countries in the world. The first time I went out there I saw people living in villages made of huts with no power or running water. It was a shock to the system. Despite the poor living conditions, Malawi is called “The Warm Heart of Africa,” and this is more than a nickname. As bad as things might be in the eyes of someone from the United States, the people of Malawi are always smiling.
They are happy and more than willing to work hard and help out. It’s an amazing place to volunteer because the people are so excited about everything that’s going on. You can’t help but feel optimistic yourself. In the past few years, I have honestly witnessed miracles take place. The organization’s impact is unbelievable. For example, the country suffers from a terrible HIV/AIDS epidemic, and part of E3’s efforts involve teaching people with these conditions how to live better.
In Mawali, I’ve spoken with people who lived with HIV for years, but you would never be able to tell because they’ve been taught how to better manage their condition. They know what to eat and what medications they must take to feel healthy and be able to work every day without worry. It’s amazing to see how much good one organization is able to do.
David Epperson founded E3 Worldwide, with members of the Malawi community, and their aim is to teach people how to take care of themselves in a better way. Their motto is “Educate, Empower, and Employ.” While this model might provide temporary relief, that is not the goal. If the people of Malawi become dependent on E3 it ultimately does the people of Malawi a disservice. One of David’s deepest beliefs with his non-profit is that developing income generation within the community is much better than importing things like food and clothes from the west.
Importing goods rather than making them in the community only addresses short term issues and in the long run does more damage than good. The ultimate goal of E3 is to equip Malawians with the tools they need to sustain themselves and their families for the long term and to help other Malawians.
Volunteers teach Malawians how to grow their own food, fix wells, build schools, microfinance businesses, improve health care, and create a sustainable community that doesn’t have to rely on continued outside aid. E3 is so committed to helping these communities become sustainable because a lot of the staff actually live in Malawi and are Malawian themselves. The employees, more than anyone, want to see these communities improve and help build a better life for the people who call Malawi home.
Clean Crawls has donated time and money to E3 over the years, including $10,000 that helped build living dorms last year. I’m part of E3’s U.S. board and have been to Malawi four times to volunteer. Some of these areas have improved so much that people from other places are begging to get in — hence the new dorms. It feels good to know the work you’ve done during a trip will bring running water to an isolated village, but it’s even better to know you’ve helped educate the villagers, so they can build future wells themselves.
If you’re interested in learning more about E3 Worldwide, I encourage you to visit their website at e3worldwide.org. E3 is a wonderful organization which, everyone at Clean Crawls and I are proud to be a part of.