This evening, we made a presentation for funding to the Student’s Union Governing Council of the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT). We (Mary and I) were joined by Chris, Liam and Michael, three of the students who made such an impact on the villages where they worked during their two week stay over their easter holidays.
They paid all their own expenses, paid for the school building materials, and we are now discussing projects for the balance of their fund.
Our contribution (W4Z) to poor rural villages can be sumarised in three words: Inspiration, Education and Challenge. The ten students who came ticked all those boxes with distinction.
They inspired the remote rural community in Luvuwu to build a three classroom school block in two weeks. (complete and ready for occupation).
They educated a group of Mzuzu University students and fourth formers about the value of manual work and that even if you are white, well off and well educated, there is a value in working side by side with the poorest, sharing their burden, and showing respect for what they can achieve.
(Building a three classroom school in 2 weeks and did I mention a school garden is some achievement in anyone’s language), but when it’s done by rural people with few tools and little confidence, with the help of some of the softest white hands, boys and girls, it’s nothing short of a miracle.
In Wells for Zoe we believe that Inspiration is more important than charity and we don’t do charity.
Inspiring the villagers and educating the priviliged, gave the us best of both worlds.
The challenge to the villagers was a school and school garden in two weeks and the challenge was met, with honours.
The challenge tonight was to convince the panel, in 5 minutes, as to the worthiness of our project, but we didn’t manage it, but are happy to lose to a very worthy cause. On the plus side Chris, Michael and Liam were concise and confident in relating what they had done and what was achieved and most of all that they had left a community with their dignity intact and with a confidence to tackle the many challenges facing them.
We are very proud to be associated with such a fine and talented group of young people. All ten have made an impact,they have learned and taught and had an educational and enjoyable two weeks in Malawi.
We feel priviliged to be able to bring two such diverse groups together, the advantaged Irish with some of the poorest of the poor, and to have them achieving such a degree of mutual respect.
The real plus for Wells for Zoe would be a continued connection with these students.
I include a few words from Dr John Ryan, Professor of Mathematics at Mzuzu University:
(The youth group, Ungweru, come from St Augustines Parish where he works as a curate. He is a Kilteegan father from Tipperary)
John and Mary
It is already Wednesday so let me put a couple of thoughts down for your presentation tonight.
The recent visit of your youth has really got our group going. I think they learned a lot from one another. Our group here now is very active especially in the sports line at the moment but they also have plenty of plans for community work and I have great hopes for the future of this group. Also among this group we have a couple of students from Mzuzu University and I just know the connection with Mzuzu University is just going to grow more and more.
I learned an amazing thing recently —two of the post graduate students of Mzuzu University use the Ungweru library and study room quite regularly! Its is a further connection with the university and good to get university students and youth at Ungweru interacting more.
I think the possibility of further groups coming from Ireland will keep our group very excited and focused on community work as they too want to be able to relate how they are ‘involved’.
As discussed with you, many of our programmes involve ‘hand-outs’ which in many ways are very necessary with the dire poverty but at the same time such programmes are not sustainable and tend to promote a wrong spirit. Involvement with your group is going to help us to introduce a sustainable element to our programmes.
Best Wishes for tonight.