Pittsburgh engineer helps bring water to Malawi


While helping rebuild a Presbyterian church in Malawi 20 years ago, Aubrey Briggs of Sewickley Heights was shocked to see women carrying water several miles to make concrete.

“With the bucket and the water it was 53 pounds on their head,” the 92-year-old engineer recalls. “And sometimes one or two babies on their hips. And this seemed to me very wrong. And so I decided there and then really to try and find another way.”

Raised in poverty in Australia, the family water source was runoff from the roof. He made a career of finding “another way.”

Briggs discovered a water source in mountains near Domasi, and supervised installation of four miles of pipe. He put $300,000 of his own money into the “Living Waters Project.”

Reverend Blessings Mkwate is one of 28 Malawi residents visiting in partnership with Presbyterians in western Pennsylvania. He has seen the pipeline.

“Water is life,” he says, “so to have an access to water is very great. He did it. It’s a very good gift to us.”

Briggs says he hopes to add another 21 miles of pipe.

“Instead of carrying water on their heads for sometimes three or four hours at a time, they just go and turn on the faucet. For them, that was a miracle.”

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