Griffith College volunteers

From the Griffiti Magazine

Wells for Zoe
Imagine Ireland hundreds of years ago, no mobiles, no bebo and more importantly… no clean drinking water. Where would you be? How would you cope? Can you even imagine? Well unfortunately, it is still happening in parts of the world. Why am I telling you something you already know? Because GCD has students that want to make a difference… Are you one of them?

Ciara Healy

After visiting Mzuzu in Malawi in 2005, retired couple John and Mary Coyne, a property developer and a teacher, decided to set up the Wells for Zoe charity. The name for the charity came from Richard Cansdale, whose daughter Zoe was killed tragically in a motorcycle accident. Zoe is also the Greek word for life, so Wells for Zoe means “Water for Life”. Richard was the man who finalised the design for the Cansee pump.

The group focused primarily on providing the region with fresh clean drinking water, however now they have branched out into a wide range of different projects in order to develop the area. But two people can’t fix an entire country’s problems, but fortunately, that’s where Griffith College students come in. Two first year students, Paul Durning studying Business and James Walters from the Journalism faculty have already made it over to the African state and it has made such an impression on them that have decided to go that one step further. Together with the help of the Griffith Students’ Union, they have decided to get a group of 17 students from all 5 faculties over to Malawi in early 2009 to help make a difference to the lives of hundreds of people.

Where are we going? Malawi is said to be the heart of Africa, the people are so friendly and welcoming impression to their visitors. It is roughly 4 and half hours from the airport in the capital Lilongwe where the students will fly into. Once we arrive there, we will be collected by two army jeeps donated by the Irish army earlier this year to complete the journey to Mzuzu.

The original idea of giving the people fresh clean water came from the fact that only 19% of pumps over 25 years do work. 60% don’t work on any given day. Imagine walking 6 miles for a bottle of water only for the shop to be closed, and not having a mobile phone to call someone to come and fix the well. The Wells for Zoe charity’s goal is to supply the region with the Cansee pump. These pumps are easy to set up and quick to repair, they are also cheap at just $30 each. The charity are now in the process of setting up a pump factory, which will bring jobs and wells to the country.

They are also setting up an agricultural college in order to educate the people on how to farm and generate their own business and capital. At the moment Malawis’ agricultural sector is where Ireland was 100 years ago. The college is about people learning about different methods of farming, for example, compost making, crop rotation as well as a whole wide range of new innovative farming techniques.

Wells for Zoe is based on a very simple concept “A hand up, Not a hand out”. They believe in inspiring, educating and challenging the people of Malawi in order to help them, help themselves. Some of the stories Paul and James could tell us were amazing. One woman got a 0% interest loan in order to set up her own charcoal selling business, she became very successful in her venture and is now in the process of returning her 0% interest loan. This woman came from nothing and is now an entrepreneur in her own right and all because of just a little help from Wells for Zoe.

So what will Griffith students be doing there? Last year, when DIT students went there they worked with the Malawian people to set up a school and garden in the community of Luvuwu. Since the school was set up, the community has set up a youth society and an AIDs support group as well as the garden being developed further. When Wells for Zoe visited the area in August, the drama society in the youth group was able to put on a play for them promoting awareness about HIV and AIDs. Our aim is to undergo a similar project and hopefully name the project after Griffith College with the aim of achieving the same self sustainability.

How can you help? Each student will be funding their costs both from their own pocket and through support by sponsorship. Between now and the end of January, we shall be doing various fund raising events which we need everyone to dig deep and support what can only be described as a great cause. We hope to raise more than the necessary amount so we’ve more than just our physical efforts to give to the people. So even if you’re not travelling with us you can make a difference.

If you wish to just make a donation, or know someone who would like to make a donation, the Students’ Union are setting up a bank account where you can lodge money either anonymously, or through us. Remember, every little counts. You can give a hand up to those who need it without even going out of your way.

If you want to know more about the Charity they are online at

All I can say is What a Crew and I have still to met them


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