The children of St. John Vianney Orphanage and School gather in August during Father Mark Mlays visit there.

Homeless children need clean water to drink

NORTH PALM BEACH | Readers may remember stories in the past which have appeared in the Florida Catholic about the orphans of Malowa, Tanzania, who were taken off the streets by a priest here and put under the care of the Adorer Missionary Sisters of the Poor.

These children need some help.

“We are struggling for water,” said Father Mark Mlay of the Apostolic Life Community of Priests and parochial vicar of St. Clare Parish in North Palm Beach.

Father Mlay spearheaded the building of St. John Vianney Orphanage with Sister Mary Wandia to put a roof over the heads of homeless children in Africa. The facility has 320 orphans living there, with Sister Wandia heading a staff of other members of the Adorer Missionary Sisters. The order is in its fifth year. While the order is growing in numbers, so is the population of children at the orphanage and school.

The system that supplies the drinking water for the orphanage, school, convent and medical center in Malowa, and for the 4,000 people living in the village, is old and worn. The water flowing from the deteriorating pipe system is no longer fit to drink.

“We went to the government, and they gave us permission to get water from a lake,” said Father Mlay about a lake in the mountains with fresh, clean water suitable for drinking. “The lake is about 300 meters below the ground level. A big pump is needed to pump water from the lake.”

With the help of village volunteers, Father Mlay started a project Aug. 27 to get the water from the lake about three and a half miles away from Malowa. People are volunteering to dig and lay the pipeline to the water source in the mountains, the priest said.

A large concrete tank to hold the water is being constructed at this point under the direction of an engineer and contractor. “The tank is designed to hold 35,500 cubic feet of water,” Father Mlay said. “When it is full, there will be enough water for the orphanage and for the people in the area.”

The pipe will bring the flow of water down from the mountain, and then at a certain point, a pump system will propel the water to the large tank. Volunteers started the work, but the project has come to a halt. Funds have run out. The entire project will cost an estimated $100,000 according to Father Mlay. He explained that the funds are needed to buy “two water pumps, a booster, iron and plastic pipes, and payment for the engineer and contractor and their assistants.”

St. John Vianney School and Orphanage opened December 2013 and is celebrating five years this Christmas. The school has added grades each year and taken in more children at the beginning of each new school year, providing them a safe, nurturing environment, academic opportunities and spiritual growth. The Adorer Missionary Sisters of the Poor were established as a new congregation spearheaded by Father Mlay and Sister Wandia, and approved and under the authority of Archbishop Isack Amani Massawe of the Diocese of Moshi in Tanzania.

In this corner of the world water is scare, electricity is a luxury and food is precious. Mission work there is not easy. The religious women do everything. They teach the children. They cook and clean, and they provide love and care for the youngsters. The religious tend the gardens that provide much of the food, and take care of the chickens and cows that produce eggs and milk.

Next year, the first group of students will graduate with skills and faith, and also hope of going on to schools of higher education leading the way to good jobs and a future, breaking the cycle of poverty.
Over the years, people in the Diocese of Palm Beach and readers of the Florida Catholic have been generous with financial support helping construct St. Mark the Evangelist Church in Malowa, which Father Mlay said he was called to build. The church was dedicated in 2010. From there, a village clinic and hospital were built, the simple convent to house the sisters and the orphanage and school with additional classes and living space each year.

Father Mlay said he is thankful for the generous support and he credits God for everything.

“God provides,” said Father Mlay, hopeful the Almighty will bring the water needed for the children and the people of the village. “He is generous. When I think to myself, ‘How should I get the money to help these children?’ I think, ‘God provides.’”

For more information and to help, call Father Mlay at St. Clare Parish at 561-622-7477 or write to him at To learn more, visit www.adorermissionary