Sunderland engineering student helps African village

Student Amy Wright is hoping to raise enough money to take a team to Malawi to install a hydropower system into a village.
Student Amy Wright is hoping to raise enough money to take a team to Malawi to install a hydropower system into a village.
Have your say

A STUDENT is hoping to transform the lives of people in an African village, but she needs Wearsiders’ help.

Amy Wright, who is studying for a masters degree in civil engineering, needs thousands of pounds to help bring electricity to Ruarwe, a small community in Malawi.

The 22-year-old, from Fatfield, Washington, is part of a team that hopes to install a hydroelectric generator which will utilise the town’s resources to provide sustainable and affordable power.

The small fishing village, which is on the shore of Lake Malawi, is only accessible once a week from the mainland via steam ferry.

The town lacks any infrastructure which means the community is impoverished.

Amy says a renewable system would provide basic amenities for the villagers, such as lighting, as well as refrigeration for medicines, power for laptops and mobile phones.

The generator would light a community centre, health centre and a primary school in Ruarwe.

Amy, a former Durham High School pupil, said: “At the minute, the people in the village use kerosine to get light, but of course that can be dangerous.

“There are a lot of problems with people contracting malaria in the village as well.

“Pretty much everyone who lives there has had it at some stage and they need vaccinations, but the ferry only comes once a week to take people for treatment.”

Amy and boyfriend Gavin Keen, 23, who is an assistant welfare benefit officer for Sunderland City Council, and is from Houghton, went to Ruarwe last year on a research mission.

The total cost to construct the hydropower scheme in Ruarwe is £4,000.

However, about £10,000 is needed towards travel costs for the team, with money also needed for the installation process and to educate the community in how to use the system.

“The travel costs are quite a lot for us to do this,” added Amy, who studies at Nottingham University.

“We just hope that we can get enough money to make it happen.”

Those willing to donate or sponsor Amy and the team should go to, email her at or call her on 07875 691313.

Twitter: @davidallison88

Malawi factfile

MALAWI is a landlocked country in south east Africa that was formerly known as Nyasaland.

About 85 per cent of the nation’s population of nearly 14million people live in rural areas.

The country has a low life expectancy as well as a high infant mortality rate.