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Over-serving the Underserved in Malawi, Africa.

In October 2023, intellicents Co-Founder and President, Grant Arends, took a volunteer trip for Marion Medical Mission where he helped install 112 water wells in the most remote villages in Africa providing clean water to approximately 4,500 people. This is his personal journal from the trip where he truly helped carry out our mission of "over-serving the Underserved."



September 29th, 2023

Today is the day I begin my journey to Malawi Africa, volunteering for Marion Medical Missions. For the next 3.5 weeks, our mission will be to complete installation of over 3,500 water wells (not a typo) throughout remote villages in Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania, and Mozambique.

This is my 3rd trip volunteering with Marion and my eighth trip in total to the continent that I love.


The picture of this precious little girl searching for water was from my first trip. Little did she know that in less then 30 minutes her life was going to be changed forever.Marion Medical Missions has changed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people just like her.



I get the extreme honor of being a part of approximately 100 such blessings during my time in the field.


One of the best parts of my job is to take the very first picture of a village receiving the gift of clean water. Many of these villages have been on the waiting list for a well for three years!

Each well costs only $450.


My goal is to fund raise to pay for every well I will be a part of completing.

If you, or a group, wish to "buy a well" please go to www.mmmwater.org.

Once you click on the Donate button, you will see a drop-down menu where you can choose the "Arends 2023 Water Campaign". Every penny counts so any donation is welcome.


All I really ask for is your thoughts and prayers for me, and for my family while I'm gone.

I return on October 23rd. I will post as often as I can during my adventures!!


October 1st, 2023

I have arrived in Malawi safe and sound with all our blessed team members.



We train for two days at “The Ritz” (lol) before heading out in the field on Tuesday. Basically 40 hours of travel door to door on about 4 hours cumulative sleep - tops.


Doing some inventory for my time in the field trying to stay awake before dinner!!! www.mmmwater.org Marion Medical Mission#cleanwater


October 2nd, 2023

Today was a joyful day!!


We spent the day training for our upcoming 3 weeks in the field. That includes classroom, practicing driving (stick shift driving on the “wrong side” of the road meaning everything is opposite ), to changing tires WHEN we inevitably get a flat.



I was thrilled to learn that I will be traveling with my original mentor Doug Kee to the mountains of Northern Malawi.


We will have some awesome and challenging hikes to very remote villages where most others refuse to go, saving the lives of families through the gift of clean water.


Our day ended with a surprise visit with my African brother Charles Chirwa.

Charles was my field officer, guide, and protector for my first two trips.

It will take a lot to get used to not being with him in the field.

But since my last visit, Charles has studied in India and at Virginia Tech and has his MBA.


He now works for Save the Children with an emphasis on climate change.

Charles began his career at Marion and is a testament of what is possible.

The African people are brilliant, beautiful, wonderful, and CAPABLE people that can achieve anything we Americans can.


Like us, they often just need someone to invest in their future.Clean water is the foundation for that. Please visit www.mmmwater.org if you would like to help invest in these beautiful people.

You can choose the Arends 2023 Water campaign.

Tomorrow is a travel day.

Then we are off to work!!!!


October 4th, 2023

Today was day one in the field. We installed 12 wells today!!! Here are pictures of the very first well we installed along with the reasons why we do this…



October 5th, 2023

It’s all about the kids...



October 6th, 2023

We go where no one else will go to provide clean water to those most in need and often forgotten.


October 7th, 2023

Since I am in Africa again, I best share this Anna Arends birthday classic that I recorded in the field 7 years ago!!!!!


Happy Birthday Anna!!!


October, 8th 2023

A MUCH needed day of rest at Lake Malawi thanks to our boss - Field Officer Lewis and his beautiful family. Six straight days of well installation in the field starts first thing Monday morning.



October 9th, 2023

Today was a record day for me. My partner and I collectively installed 26 wells. We were in two separate trucks with two separate African teams that candidly do most of the work.


Our main jobs are to

1. Document for donors that the wells are being completed.

2. Show Africans that we care and love them.

3. Do what I’m told - help where I can.

4. Drive (beyond scary and challenging and more on that later..)


These two “mamma’s” were the highlight of my day.

They sang, danced, and cried.

They have waited for clean water their entire lives.


Now some donor in America - maybe you -

completed these momma’s dreams for their children and grandchildren.


Now they have a chance to live what we call “The American Dream” where their kids and grandkids truly have a chance to live a more prosperous life.


These wells are 100% manufactured, dug, installed, and maintained by local Africans.

American donations cover the cost of the pipe, pump, and cement.

That cost is just $500 ($450 for the parts plus I ask $50 to help support local African employment, fuel, truck maintenance, etc.)


If you fund a well, you will receive a picture of “your well” pumping clean water for the very first time.


If you would like to fund a well, please go to www.mmmwater.org. After clicking DONATE, you can choose the Arends 2023 Water Campaign.

Tomorrow it’s up to the mountains for two days and staying in a remote house.

I’ve been told we may buying live chickens to be prepared for our dinner?! I’ll report back!!


October 10th, 2023

Sometimes we find that the roads are just a tad impassable lol…. That does not deter our work. When that happens we walk, and walk, and walk, and walk…

Ended our day today installing two wells with a two hour round trip hike to the wells. We go where no others will go.



October 11th, 2023

Back to home base after 2 days in the mountains. Two straight 13 plus hour days. Haven’t showered since Monday? . I am disgusting. You can smell through the post I promise. What an adventure!!! Back to work in 10 hours.



October 12th, 2023

Almost all the wells that we install are in very remote villages. However every once in a while we are blessed to install a well specifically for a school.

That happened to me today in the field.


Until today, these kids would break from school to retrieve water from the same stream used by livestock. Now they can drink clean water while they learn.

We all know the life changing power of an education. I cannot articulate in words how an education changes EVERYTHING for generations here.



A well in a village means that kids can spend time in school vs spending hours hunting for water everyday. A well at a school enhances education exponentially.

If you want to help change the lives of kids like these forever, please consider donating at www.mmmwater.org. After clicking DONATE you can choose the Arends 2023 Water Campaign.


I talk about how $500 funds a well plus operations. But every $20, $10, or $5 makes a huge difference. You can also fund a well collectively among friends, clubs, organizations, etc.


Thank you so much for your support.


October 13th, 2023

I wasn’t going to post today but then these treasures happened. It was the boost of energy I needed.


Today was the 9th day in the field with still a week to go. It’s oppressively hot and we work outside at least 10 hours each day.


So I admittedly was (am) tired, was (am) homesick, and candidly am very much looking forward to starting the four day journey home next Friday as I miss my family.


And then we arrived at this village with these kids.


It was the reminder I needed on why we are here and how much is left to be done. So though the battery needs a recharge, another week in the field is a tremendous honor and blessing.


October 16th, 2023

Oh it’s good to be “home”.


Today marked the beginning of our 3rd and final week of fieldwork. I was THRILLED that this week took us back to Chitipa which is where I served the majority of my time the last two trips.


You can see on the map that Chitipa is virtually at the top of Malawi bordering Zambia. It is about 12 hours from our original home base of Lilongwe. Hence why my journey back to America will take 4 full days.


Chitipa is very Colorado. Our elevation is about 4,200 feet at the bottom and we work up in the mountains. So the temperature is much cooler.


Today we installed 7 wells as we worked in the mountains driving and hiking great distances between wells. It was so awesome to be reunited with my friend McMillan who guided us to the wells he oversees.



You’ve heard me say over and over again that we go where no one else will go.

Check out the short video at the end which gives just a small example of where and what we drive on to get to those whom we serve. Don’t tell my mother….

To support this cause please go to www.mmmwater.org and click Donate and choose Arends 2023 Water Campaign.


October 17th, 2023

When you are told by your African guides that the hike to the next well is too difficult, and they therefore dump you next to a school to wait for 2 hours with 400 students that have probably never seen a Mzungu (white dude) before you tend to garner some attention…



October 18th, 2023

So read on if you want a story….

So today was the last full day in the field. Nine wells.

The first eight were easy peasy. Then came well nine….

We are out in the bush about an hour from home base when we hit a road full of stumps.


Africans use machetes to clear roads but some tree stumps are hidden and are razor sharp. I thought I avoided them but I obviously missed one and shredded a tire.


We carry spares as flat tires are not “if” but “when”.

The rule is - go immediately home as you can’t afford another flat in the field. But our builder said the well was close so we broke the rule….


Turns out the well is in ZAMBIA and another hour down the road. Zero cell phone coverage, it’s getting dark, and not a soul from Mission Control knows where we are…


We drive as far as we can and have to walk a mile and a half to reach the well. It then takes an hour to install the well. It’s usually a 20 minute job.

It’s now getting dark and we are 40 minutes from the truck.


A guy shows up on a motorcycle and four of us (yes four of us PLUS a chicken) get on the back and the guy drives us to the truck saving us 30 minutes.

We then drive for two hours back home praying (literally) that we don’t blow another tire at least until we have cell phone coverage.


We made it home safe and sound!!

What a way to end the last full day of field work . I wish I had pictures but it was a tad too tense to be picture taking except for the big fire on the side of the road on our way back lol…

But we installed a well in the most remotest of areas providing clean water to 20 households. 


That’s the job and we did it.

Tomorrow we slowly begin our journey home working half days along the way Thursday and Friday as we head south. It’s been an adventure!!!

As always - don’t tell my mother. (Or Susan)


October 20th, 2023

Heading out for the last day in the field! What a ride it has been.



October 21st, 2023

So my final well total was 112.

My goal was 100. So I put in some “overtime” lol.

I envisioned well 100 being on some spectacularly scenic mountain side, or for a school with hundreds of kids. You have seen pictures of those wells in previous posts.

Instead it was “just a normal well” in a remote village located on a dried out rice field. Somehow that seems perfectly fitting.



We aren’t here for the adventure, the hikes, or the beautiful photos of the vast beauty of Malawi. That’s just the bonus.


We are here to install protected water wells in the most remote regions where no one else will go to those that are most in need.


Most villages we go to are like this one. Most have a little girl just like this one. This little girl now has a chance….

The gratitude expressed by the village EVERY TIME to American donors is overwhelming.

So I won’t forget the “normalcy” of well 100.


Tomorrow begins the journey home. Three flights totaling 21 hours in the air coupled with 10 plus hours of layovers. The entire journey home I will reflect on this experience.

I will think about all that have supported this journey in thoughts, in prayer, and financially.



I did 112 of approximately 4,000 wells covering over 51,000 square miles this well season.

Hundreds of wells are yet to be all funded at $450 per well (plus an ask from me of $50 for operations).

Every $5 helps.


If you would like to support my personal campaign one last time please go to www.mmmwater.org. Click on Donate and select the Arends 2023 Water Campaign.

I’m so thankful for your support at any level.

People ask me all the time; “Why do you go on this trip?” One of my mission partners answered it best; “Because I can’t unsee what I have seen.”


See you stateside.


October 22nd, 2023

Until we meet again my friend, Lewis Chidindira Silungwe.



October 23rd, 2023

So proud of this team!! Even though we all were only together 4 out of 25 days, our collective experiences make us an eternally bonded family whether American or African.



Grant's Reflection...

This intellicents hat got a bit messy, but was a great protector from the intense African heat and sun during my time in Africa.


It was also a great reminder that intellicents’ mission to “overserve the underserve” goes beyond our corporate mission of providing financial planning assistance to anyone regardless of their current financial situation.


In America – a path out of poverty often starts with a path towards education.


In Africa, it starts with clean drinking water so that you can focus on your future vs. simply trying to survive the day.


I personally helped complete the installation of 112 water wells in the most remote villages in Africa providing clean water to approximately 4,500 people.


I want to thank my teammates at intellicents for allowing me to be gone for basically a month, pursuing my passion for helping those living in extreme poverty in Sub Saharan Africa find a path to a better life.


As expected, I missed my intellicents family much more than they missed me.


To those team members, business partners, clients, and competitors that supported my trip by sponsoring a well – THANK YOU.



There is obviously still time to do so by going to www.mmmwater.org. Simply choose the Arends 2023 Water Campaign from the drop-down menu after clicking donate.


$450 will pay for the pipe, pump, and cement to complete a well installation. By sponsoring a well, you will receive a picture of “your well” pumping clean water for the very first time.


People ask me all the time; “Why do you go to Africa? Especially when there is so much need at home.”


I’d love to spend hours with you answering that question.


The short answer is that I’m crazy.


My hope is that the public demonstration of my crazy adventure will motivate everyone to put in that extra hour or two serving at home pursuing whatever passion drives you to help make the world a better place.


I believe that there is no better industry than the Financial Services – Investment industry better suited to lead the charge of finding long-term sustainable solutions that will garner a positive rate of return to those in need for generations to come.


We get how the power of compounding changes one’s future.


Whether that is financial literacy, disease prevention, or clean drinking water halfway across the world, our potential is limitless if we could unite in a mission of "over-serving the Underserved."

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