People regularly ask me this question; if I went to Malawi, what could I do? and I answer, just be yourself and you will be amazing and you will regularly get a chance to make someone’s day and often change someone’s life, or maybe even, your own. I suppose my answer suggests that we all have one or many talents which can make a significant impact on the lives of the poorest in this remarkable country.
Mary McCaffery is one who has done all that and more, another extraordinary young woman who made a huge impact on her first visit and this year took the place by storm.
She planned meticulously, knew what she was about and had the principal task of arranging and organising our new volunteer house for our summer of volunteers. She left two weeks before us and welcomed us on our arrival (a real treat). She took a very rough and ready, nearly completed (Malawi standard) house and turned into a hugely welcoming, home from home where everyone had reasonable comfort and great craic. She had to rally the troops, get furniture made up, source and collect beds, get cooker, fridge, microwave from Lilongwe, source pots, pans, bed linen, mosquito nets (and put them up), grab plumbers, electricians, carpenters and painters, threathening fire, brimstone and Mary Coyne on them!! do the snag list, get the electricity connected and the water all the while, driving an almost expired Irish army jeep, charming the police, avoiding the craters, cyclists and Napoli style drivers.
After this she, with Caitriona O’Connor, taught (model) classes in a Zola Zola secondary school, where they were spellbinding, invited back and asked would they stay. They made such an impact that we are drawing up a whole new programme for this activity.
Of course she did everything else as well and we all love here for her enthusiasm and energy.
A Volunteers Experience:Mary McCaffery, Sligo: a Secondary School Teacher at Rathdown School.
I have visited Malawi twice and I’m not finished yet. This summer I spent 6 weeks there. I was joined on my trip by 5 primary school teachers, a doctor, another Home Economics teacher and 7 university students and we all had a blast….
I was interested in doing volunteer work for a long time but was turned off so many other organisations due to the need to fund raise large amounts. Wells for Zoe welcomed me with open arms. I was drawn to them because of its authenticity and hand approach to their projects. Every cent given to Wells for Zoe goes directly to the projects in Malawi. Donations are not spent on administration or flights for volunteers. John’s record keeping of project expenses ensures that fundraisers get to see first hand how their donations are put to use. Mary’s kindly worded letters bring a human and heart warmed acknowledgement to every donation.
I was inspired this summer to see John and Mary at work. They work with endless enthusiasm and love for Malawi and its people everyday. The locals welcome them with open arms and an open heart. Mary and John have an understanding and respect for the culture and way of life in Malawi, something which took me and many volunteers some time to adjust too. This understanding allows Wells for Zoe not only to become part of a community but to bring new life and hope into the communities.
I spend my summer holidays playing with young children in Aras Kate, meeting some of their parents in Adult Education, teaching knitting to some inspiring mothers, doing some re-decorating, some weeding and digging and of course doing some teaching, all the time laughing, smiling and embracing life, Malawi style.
My experience this summer has shown me how it is possible to enjoy life with so little processions and how the smallest gift (food, a blanket) can make such a difference. A handshake, a smile, a hug or taking a photograph can actually make someone’s day….
My interest in Malawi and my work for Wells for Zoe will continue. I have become very fond it. It may be a small charity but it has a very big heart….
I’m looking forward to my next trip already …….