Roseanne Curtin - AOL

Wells for Zoe, chosen for award, by AOL

Meet the Winners of the Employee Cause Contest AOL

This year, we held our third annual Global Employee Cause Contest to recognize and further support our employees who are passionate about giving back – employees who have gone above and beyond to support the charity they are personally involved with.

During the first week of December, we invited employees from across the globe to submit their favorite non-profit for a chance to win a $5,000 grant in their name, to be donated to that organization. Not only did this give us an opportunity to further support our employees’ passions, but it was truly incredible to learn more about how AOLers are supporting their local communities throughout the year.

We saw a 44% increase in submissions this year, so the judging process was not an easy one! Our dedicated team of panelists judged the submissions based on the employee’s personal connection and level of commitment, expected future commitment and overall impact the $5,000 grant will have on the submitted organization.

We’re excited to announce the winners of this year’s contest – take a few minutes to read about your fellow employees and the incredible causes they care about:

Roseanne Curtin, Dublin, Wells for Zoe

W4Z is a small Irish charity that has a major impact in Malawi in Africa, providing clean and safe water. In the
past year they have installed 1,000 pumps that will provide clean water to over a quarter of a million people for 
life! Roseanne is very passionate about Wells for Zoe because she feels that each dollar truly goes a long
way. W4Z has a proven track record in delivering impressive results despite the fact that they are a small charity 
that receives no government funding and relies completely on small private donations. The $5,000 grant will
provide up to 10,000 people with clean water for life or send 50 girls to secondary school – this makes a
phenomenal difference in their lives, the lives of their children and in their communities. Roseanne has been 
involved with the organization for several years, helping spread the word about the charity and increase overall
awareness around the organization. Last year, Roseanne joined the W4Z board, has proactively lead donation
drives and is researching an app to help fundraise through online book sales! Roseanne also hopes to coordinate an engagement opportunity around World Water Day in 2014.

The two other  winners were:

Rob Lazorchak, Dulles
Johns Hopkins Pediatric Cardiology unit for Hayden’s Heart Heroes

Kurt Freytag, San Francisco
Peralta Parents & Teachers Association

..and her name was Katie Taylor!

Journalist On The Run

Check out this amazing video of the ‘Thai Tims’, kids from a school in Thailand, singing loud and proud about the legend that is Irish Olympic Gold medallist Katie Taylor.

Absolutely love these kids, such an inspiration for all.


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Can You help?

From Cassie:

Hello friends

here’s a good deed for the week…

While in Malawi, we worked in Zolo Zolo Secondary School. The school was sparse with few resources so we decided to fund the renovation of room into a library.

While there, we also thought creative writing to the students. Their commitment to learning was truly inspirational and their joy at gaining a library was overwhelming.

Whilst working in the school, I found out the names of their English text book. It is a book by MacMillan Education called Looking for a Rain God. It has been out of publication for 15 years, but with the kind help of the publishers, we have located 71 copies of the text book.

Now we want to send them to Malawi so the school will not have to share a book between 10 or 12 students. The cost to buy the book from the publishers and bring it to Malawi is ten euro…so now, we’re looking for 71 people to commit to buying a book and we’ll take care of the rest.

If you would like to be the proud sponsor of a book please contact Cassie at

Village Meeting

Village Meeting
Originally uploaded by wellsforzoe

It may look like a visit to a village in the touristic sense. Go there, meet the village and leave, never to be seen again.
But we just don’t go about our business like this.
Here we see part of a Self Help Group before their weekly meeting started. They began their savings scheme in January 2011, saving small amounts. They began lending to each other in March 2011 charging an interest rate of 20%, which goes back in to the kitty. They are involved in small business and at the end of November had a loan book of 1246 Euro. Now these are some of the poorest women in the area, some are widows and few can read and write. Brian, with the purple shirt, an employee of our friends at St John of God Services, is their mentor, educator and advisor, but they do everything else themselves. All this has been achieved by these 18 women with no financial input from outside. They have achieved all by themselves, a lesson to the rest of the World!!. After working successfully in these small groups, the progress to Community needs, forming a cluster representing 10 small groups
At this stage they presented us with proposals for clean water, preschools and adult education. We are now working with the first cluster on the building of 10 preschools which will double for Adult Education. Training has began is some and we are ahead of schedule.
When I say we, I mean that we support the community, but they do all the work and. In the preschools we supply some cement, and the metal for the roof, they do all the work. We also supply training and for caregivers in the preschools and work with the Ministry of Education for training adult education trainers.
This group have 34 wells/pumps and when we came along only one worked.
Later we will bring training in conservation farming and horticulture.
These now successful business women are ready to drive this agenda, having been empowered by their own success. They are not for turning and they will go upwards and onwards.
An amazing success story against all the odds.

Life in Malawi

When the going gets tough, do the tough get going or maybe sometimes get the message, up tent and pegs and get the hell out of Dodge. This was our dilemma on May 2, 2011
We had come to Malawi, for the first time, just six years ago and feel we have made unbelievable progress (for us) with the poorest rural people you are ever likely to see anywhere. Rural poverty is different than the urban variety in that rural people generally survive better: they should be able to feed themselves at least, if they have any tradition of farming, and sell a little to buy necessities, but Aid, bad advice and poor governance have robbed them of their dignity and courage. Many people here, men mainly, have lost the spirit to survive and if there is any hope, it’s with the women.
I mention aid as the first blight, in that people have become dependent and wait for the €70,000 white jeeps to arrive and get them out of another spot, the Government having previously exaggerated the need, wasted much of the money on reports (done by white consultants) and sent what remained with the delivery boys.
In the past six years we have spent our time trying to inspire, educate and challenge villagers to get off their asses and do it for themselves, pushing ahead with communities who have taken the first steps. Our top attention goes to the provision of clean drinking water close to villages. The community (the men) dig the wells sometimes up to eighteen metres deep (the height of a four story apartment block), supply and build the bricks, sand and labour. We supply a simple, very sustainable and repairable pump, which we make in Mzuzu, and the cement.
To be honest most wells are six or seven metres deep and the average cost to us is about €130 per village meaning water for life can cost less than one Euro per person.
Clean water has a phenomenal, life changing impact. Water related illness disappears immediately. Words like diarrhoea, a bigger killer than aids, disappears from the vocabulary. Cholera, an almost instant killer vanishes, and women get back some rudiments of a life. Girls can get to school, bad and all as it might be. Women can grow gardens, often with our help and a horrific life becomes a little more bearable.
All this seems like something we’d want to stay for, and continue, but Malawi has changed in recent times. Suspicion and paranoia about the activities and influence of foreign NGO’s is all around us, and there’s a view abroad that we’re going back to the latter years of the reign of the dictator Kamuzu Banda, who ran a hoard of community spies, and not so nice people, who reported to the powers that be, lots of people were disappeared, some reported to be fed to the crocodiles in the Shire river and any semblence of law evaporated in the hot Malawi sun.
I’m not saying in any way that we have got that far, but a recent edict directed the President’s supporters to deal with dissenters and anyone critical of the current regime.
It’s interesting that today (May 2) the president announced May 14 as a National Holiday to honour the former president of Malawi, Kamuza Banda, and anyone who has read even the most abbreviated history of Malawi, and his illustrious reign, will appreciate what I mean. The comment that Malawi can live in prosperity if it learns from this great son of the land and decide to live by the values he stood for (from a full page Ministry Advert in the Daily Times ) maybe even the slightest bit of misleading. Now it is true that many of the older village men would concur with this but with maybe with just the slightest touch of selective amnesia, rose tinted glasses or even a bit of alzheimers. Maybe it’s more of a reflection on the current state of the country rather than a factual recollection of what was.

I suppose at this time rulers all around the world are looking at North Africa and what may be loosely called people power. Autocratic rulers everywhere are under scrutiny from all angles and must be worried about their collective futures .
If I look at one particular case: the UK, who had to welcome home their High Commissioner from Malawi, having been thrown out because he told it as it is, something that every canine conversation is about, on the streets these days. Like most of the developed world the UK has financial problems, taxes and interest rates will go up, they are spending ship loads of money on humanitarian aid, in places like Malawi and have now the cost of bombers in Libya. If I were a Health worker in Malawi, I would worry about my future, as the UK is the biggest funder of healthcare and medicines. Maybe getting rid of the British High commissioner was a stroke of genius. Being powerful enough to be first country in the commonwealth to ever send home an ambassador (even Mugabe didn’t go that far) has to show that Malawi’s sun has indeed risen.
During the past three weeks, not alone did we have had to visit Emigration and Government Information Services (the stazi) to give an account of our movements, we had Inland Revenue crawl all over us: all this mainly, I feel, at the instigation of a single individual.
There are thousands of foreign NGO’s in Malawi, we are tiny and they’re on our case, so what’s going on? More than vague suggestions are always made of arrest, eternal damnation or expulsion.
Maybe this rant should end with a laugh.
Two weeks ago, one of our employee’s, who looks after 5 rural preschools and visits one each day, was on his bike at about 7.30am and while passing a read block was detained by police. He was charged with speeding and told that they would keep his bike until the fine (€10) was paid. He left his bike, walked 2 miles to the school, 2 miles back and eventually when he confirmed that he had no money, and was walking away, they threw his bike at him.

Monday 23 May 2011: Duncan, the Mobile Plumber

When we arrived at the factory this morning, after 7.30, Duncan was loaded up and ready to roll, to fit two pumps. One was a broken pump which hadn’t worked for years and the other was on a new well .
Haven’t seen him since, but I’m sure the news is good.
In the wake of ever increasing fuel costs and the lack of fuel for long periods as a result of forex problems, we have decided to keep the show on the road and bought a new bike for our new guy Duncan.
He loves the job and the bike and the whole affair.May 2011

You can laugh (or cry) at the following email

Here is my report plus the G,P,S details of some pumps that we have installed so far.
We went to Ekwendeni following up those letters you left plus other new wells namely; Makalanje, V H Simon, Halazie, Shonga and Engcongoleni.
On 14 June I went to maintan a pump in Thandazga,
On 15 June I was with steve digging a well at the factory,
Today I went to Chimwemwe Kazando to take the mesurement of the new well, I will go there before Friday to make a cover and show them how to construct the whole well.


1.Village name;E,E Ngoma
No of people;28
GPS: S 11*28.410 E033*59.106 Depth,6.8m

2.Village name;Vwenya Mzumla
No of people;128
GPS; S11*24.325 E033*57.880 Depth;4.6m

3.Village name;V,H Luguba Mhlanga
No of pple;196
GPS; S11*22.601 E034*00.765 Depth;3.9m

4.Village name;Kam’khwalala
Location;Chimwemwe Kazando
No of people;357
GPS; S11*28.811 E033*57.445 Depth;3m

When things are going well in Malawi, it’s time to worry. This came from Duncan today: He finishes
The traffic policeman told me that not to carry pipes on my bike any longer failing which I will be arrested.
Duncan Reporting.

If we check with the police there will be no law, statute or mention of such. But because of corruption, stupidity or plain badness, this is their law, one man’s law and unless we pay them off this is THE ONLY LAW.

In one week, this young man (21) has helped 4 villages and gain access to safe, clean drinking water for the first time and some brainless f***** in a uniform has invented a reason to intervene, in the hope of collecting a bribe.
This is everyday life in Malawi and it’s at all levels from the top down.
Millenium Development Goals my ass.

Is it back to bartering

A small rant.

Just back from a trip to Clonmel, on some fascinating Celtic Tiger roads, where I met with a group of grounded Rotarians for an excellently presented, simple lunch, where everyone arrived from work at 1pm and were back by 2.
I met real, positive people who work for the betterment of our world. The whole adventure was a feel good story.
Three years ago they put on a music function in the town, with music from Micheál Ó Suileabhán and family, with the help of others and managed to raise €20,000, which they presented to us today. In the intervening period they have tried everything possible to get matching funds, but such is the amount of Aid arriving in Malawi, Rotary Mzuzu couldn’t find time or place to fit us in. All they had to do was inspect the pump factory, tick a few boxes, and Rotary International would match the amount. However I’ll stick to the positive and say, thank you Rotary Clonmel for the pump factory and now this money will now enable us to give clean drinking water to maybe 25000 people in North Western Mozambique.
I got myself in to rant mode on the drive back while Mary wondered what I was thinking about!!.
More questions than answers!!
Are we on the verge of going back to bartering goods and services, have we lost total confidence in banking , has the idea of big failed, have we lost touch with the real and put faith in derivatives, other obtuse financial instruments, (financial weapons of mass destruction), designed to be as obtuse as possible. Are accountants and bean counters, bankers and three card trick merchants, ruling and ruining our world? Are we to see the end of globalisation? When will we again get to appreciate real business people as distinct from hailing opportunistic chancers?
We have lost all our road signs: the parish priest, the teacher and the bank manager have all lost their place in society, all consigned to the same irrelevant end, but were replaced by so called, self promoted experts, journalists, TV merry go rounds and reality shows all with dubious motives and agendas. Local bank managers were moved into centralised warehouses and credit was controlled by grey, faceless men and women maybe, who obviously counted their bonuses before they were even hatched. Systems replaced real thinking and analysis, and real people got screwed.
There is now, no one to trust. People will present themselves, as economists or even political analysts (two fairly shaky sciences, in themselves, but then are they sciences?) and then they evaporate almost as soon as they appear: when they are found out to be one trick ponies. For years now these people, famous for being famous are experts on all matters, know the price of everything and the value of nothing, are filling the void between the amount of airspace available and the scarcity of bad news. Oh yes, news must be bad news.
Where will our new leaders come from? The churches will have to descend to even lower standing before there is any possibility of a real change. The political class will have to disappear and be replaced by real people of substance, on much lower wages, bankers will have to be terminated and the financial system totally overhauled.
Have the systems within our world just got too big, out of scale with real people, too big for people to understand. Is big the problem and will small have to become the new big.
Why did those who told us they knew better, that size matters, the bigger the better, greed is good, the economies of scale. If something becomes too big to fail, has it just become too big and therefore too big to regulate and control, for the benefit of the many.
How can people with these ideologies ever hope to contend with the poverty of the millions of subsistence people who live from day to day and from one meal to the next? Those who claim to help, collectively the Aid business, are full of these big people running the aid business like other big business organisations. They come from these backgrounds; have plans for big ventures, which they plan with the bean counters far away from the people they are supposed to serve, hardly serve, maybe dominate and their issues. Africa has had 50 years of big solutions at a big cost and most of which have become big white elephants.

Is it now time for small solutions everywhere? Small banks, small car companies, small, small, small. Will tiny is tremendous ever become a catchphrase or even small is beautiful. Will we ever hear of trickle up or that greed is shite ?.

Enron was big, it had Arthur Anderson, very big, counting its beans and it failed mega big.
Chrysler and GM have had a serious weight reduction and Ford and now in love with small cars!.
Lehman, WorldCom and Bank of Scotland have disappeared like the great Roman Empire, and now the sun regularly sets on much of the once magnificent British Empire.

Who knows how the future will go, but for us, heading off to Malawi for another two months will take us away from the masses of whinging, media malcontents where our spirits will be lifted by some of the most amazing and yet poorest women in the world, living from hand to mouth, who we will enable to access pure, clean drinking water for life, for 1 euro each.
Finally a thought for our young people:
There is a wonderful other world out there somewhere.
Emigration may not be as bad as it first appears.

Moving up a gear in 2009

Projects Year End 2009
Factory: After months of frustration with the District Commissioner for lands, changes of mind, payments for work we had already done and even more bureaucracy than Ireland we finally got planning permission and started foundations on July 30, featuring an amazing team from Blackrock College Outreach 2009, who matched the local experts on the hoe and pick, lost sweat and blood, but bruised and blistered achieved the unimaginable, by digging the foundations in two days. The second group carried and stacked out all the bricks In between they managed to blow bubbles and balloons, have some craic and keep the sunny side out. They Inspired, were Educated and definitely Challenged. What a crew!!
Later they mixed and wheeled and really got this project off the ground and by now, it’s complete and functioning. In fact the building has 3 units and includes the pump factory, a joinery unit for school furniture and beehives. The third is a kind of advance factory which we will eventually rent
The final push came when we found out that the Irish Ambassador to Malawi, Liam MacGabhann was coming to Mzuzu on November 6 and we wanted to show it off. He came; we were ready and he was impressed. The word is that we can now make about10 pumps a week, which can give clean water to 1000 remote villagers. This is an amazing achievement by our all Malawian workforce, without a mechanised implement in sight.
In Mid January we got our electrical supply from Escom, two years after we signed the contract and paid. This only happened when we bought the cable 800 km away in Blantyre, having already paid Escom for it in the original contract. Imagine the only supplier of mains electricity haven’t the money to pay for cable!!

One of 28 pumps close to the Tanzanian border in the North

Pump Installation: Wells are best dug by communities in November when the water table is at its lowest. The community then collect and build the bricks and make the concrete cover and include a metal coupler into which the pump is fixed. We supply the cement and screw in the pump when everything is ready. The preliminaries include visiting the village, getting a committee, doing a little deal which involves a commitment to contribute money, labour, and land to the common community or another community to give them the dignity of ownership. This after all is a hand up and not a hand out. When the pump is in, they owe us (a favour at least), and they know we will come to collect.
When we have installed a pump, we then have a relationship with the community and the surrounding area and progress to look at other needs like seeds, irrigation, training and dams. We invite them to Lusangazi and try little by little to meet more needs. We figure (having talked to village women), that clean locally available water is the first step on the development ladder and it’s only upwards from there on.

Of course will sell pumps to other Agencies and at the moment we have begun to supply pumps to about 5 groups mainly from the UK who have small projects here, who have learned how to install and maintain them. We also have orders from about 9 countries in Africa and South America through a US group called SIFAT who in turn work with and train Baptist Pastors from remote rural communities.

We have a good and developing relationship with DIT ( Dublin Institute of Technology) and with whom we are developing a strategic plan for the future development trips and placements. On the pump side they are working on developing a new version of the pump so that it will soon be made from materials, all of which will be available in Malawi. One student of Mechanical engineering will do his thesis on non glued methods of pipe connection which will be a huge help to us.
I am also looking at a simpler version, needing only the most rudimentary of tools to make. All new technologies discovered will be available, by Public Domain to anyone, worldwide, who wants to use modify and develop them.
At the moment we have identified in excess of 200 locations which have non functioning pumps and wells as a result of poor or un maintainable pumps. We are meeting communities, doing deals, prioritising and working towards solving the problems.

CCAP, (the Presbytarian Church of Central Africa, Livingstonia Synod) is a group that have installed over 8000 pumps over the past 15 years, have recently asked us to machine parts for their pump. Harisen has had a few days training, and he has taught William. Their achievements have been nothing short of miraculous

We have just completed an order of 200 pumps the Australian NGO, Every home for Christ/ Global Concern. In early July, Harisen installed their first two pumps. They had their media people on it, brought the video back to Australia and have raised the funds!! I visited the Karonga area close to the Tanzanian border in early November to deliver twenty pumps and begin training and installation. Part of their consignment will go to Mozambique, Tanzania, and Zambia. We are still waiting for the first export
They also work in Kenya, Mozambique and Zambia, so we hope to have our first few exports soon.
We are convinced that access to clean water and effective sanitation has a catalytic effect on many aspects of human development, being essential for a healthy population and environmental sustainability


Lusangazi farm staff from left Charity, Vasco (son Randwell) Mary, Elinis, Binna, Joyce ans Mary Monza

Model garden: Bought by W4Z in November 2007, it is run by 14 dedicated men and women, with little formal education, sharp intellects, who are learning and developing by the hour, growing plants and doing research.
This is a six acre plot in Lusangazi, about 8km from Mzuzu and 500 metres off the M1. It is essentially a research farm looking at suitable plants worldwide to find out how they grow and at what time of year. All seeds are open pollinated, come from geographically similar regions, are grown without artificial fertilizer or artificial pesticides and are grown by a bio intensive method where plants are close together and the soil is double dug.
The aim is to produce and save seeds which are then given to suitable and trained farmers locally. So far we have set up a simple watering system from a small earthen dam and a series of channels, which enables us to farm year round. Simplicity of design is fundamental which can be copied at no (or very low) cost by anyone who so desires. Where bamboo is available we use it instead of plastic pipe. All workers here are employed by W4Z and get basic pay in excess of similar workers in Government employment All their food is produced here and each day, Josephine, our cook, employed by W4Z makes a variation of meals from the farm.
Seedling production: We also have two greenhouses in Lusangazi where we propagate improved variety fruit trees by budding and grafting. We grow citrus rootstock from lemon seed. Orange, Lime, Lemon are Tangerine are produced by budding. We also produce Avocado, Paw Paw, Mango, Apples, Pears, Guava, Pineapples, and Moringa
Recently we have moved into fish and chicken production and looking forward to rearing new variety hens for eggs.
We use bought in chicken, cow and horse manure, compost everything including anything our neighbours threaten to burn and have begun growing our own manure!! How green is that?
We make and experiment with pesticides from any smelly plant we can find and have had great success with Tephrosia, Tobacco, Sage and Dahlias which we apply with a soap solution.
We have failed to grow good tomatoes, refusing to use all the toxic chemicals available which everyone else uses, but Benidicto is on it and we are very hopeful. We are not trying to kill all our enemies but to achieve a healthy balance. We are now trying to enlist the help of birds by growing hedges to attract them to nest!!

Capuchin Secondary School
We are also supporting the local Capuchin Parish with their new secondary school, We are also funding the secondary education of 6 girls, as educated women will educate whole villages.

Women’s Guild
A local guild of women and young men are being educated in cooking, carpentry and bricklaying in the St John of God, Vocational Centre in Mzuzu, with our help. Mary is also working with this group on the establishment of a centre to provide adult education and pre schooling.
Our feeling is that they have clean water, access to horticultural training, seeds and seedlings, so a bit of education won’t harm them!!

Primary School
We are also working with the primary schools with sports equipment, books and education in horticulture. During the summer the Blackrock Outreach boys, besides having two amazing sports days, painted four classrooms to the delight of everyone in the area. We also replaced their broken pump.

Birthing Centre

This is also a project in Lusangazi about 3 km from the model garden and is another project where we are trying to meet community needs.
• As a result of a recent governmental edict, all traditional birth attendants have been banned and women now have to attend distant (maybe 50km) or overflowing Hospitals walking, cycling or by wheelbarrow. Anyway we have completed this building, a health post, where a variety of health activities will take place. I don’t know if Lilian will deliver babies there, but she is the number one woman with the people from the Central Hospital.
The Mzuzu Health Clinic has already begun using the building to deliver its inoculation service (for the first time). The District health surveillance officer is delighted with the development and has began working on mosquito nets, soaking them in anti mosquito chemical. The building has two one bed wards, a toilet/shower area, an office and a waiting room. We now hope to add a borehole for water, a tank, a P.V solar panel for pumping and lighting and a water heating panel. The director will have a mobile phone to ring the clinic and of course a solar charger!! We have also been promised help from a missionary Capuchin nurse from their local mission.
Adding a herb and vegetable garden is a must, where we will try to grow plants, rich in iron and vitamins specifically geared to pregnancy and birthing complications. I know if we can focus on this it will happen soon.


This is an area about 8km from Mzuzu City where we have 4 projects

Lower Field: This is a co operative horticulture project which began at Easter 2007. The chief allocated an area of dambo land (essentially a swamp) where he admitted that nothing had grown “since creation began”. It was a major challenge which involved draining, digging and building a dam. In two weeks the first crops were planted and an irrigation process was put in place. The only cost was a few hoes and the seeds. We used farmyard manure and began a composting process. We use only compost, green manure and natural pesticides. The co operative system works well and badly as the personnel move in and out. The current issue is that our leader believes he is bewitched (swollen glands, swollen and closed eyes, difficulty walking and attending an African doctor) because he got a donation of a cow. It has seriously affected progress but may be the subject of future stories. This is the real Malawi and so close to us.
The real success of this development is the copycat effect. Others have copied the system with varying degrees of success, and now most people get at least two crops per year.
All that’s involved is a simple earthen dam with simple earthen channels, no cost technology, which everyone can copy. We love people to steal our ideas!

Upper Field
We bought this last year. In one part we are planting Jatropha trees from whose seeds one can extract a type of diesel fuel. The rest we will use for fish ponds and agricultural education in association with Sonda Youth.

Sonda Youth
This is a local youth project with an amazing building built by a group of Dutch Dentists, ostensibly to give vocational training to orphans. In the absence of orphans, they now take all comers of all ages (It seems). The Dutch handed the place over to St Johns Hospital and recently large funds have been misplaced and the staff in Sonda Youth have only been paid twice in the past nine months. At present 3 senior staff in St Johns Hospital, including administrator, and financial controller are in court facing charges of misplacing 69 million. Far from the ideals of the Medical Missionaries of Mary, who founded the place?
In order to help we have given the horticulture people access to the upper field but will now have to add serious training to the seeds already supplied.
Just another example of meeting needs.
Sonda Primary School
Last year we looked at the plight of 1258 pupils with 8 classrooms and felt that even simple division didn’t work here. Electric Aid emailed following an interview we had with Pat Kenny and they were willing to fund 4 new classrooms and restore the existing ones. The deal was that we would supply the cement and roof materials and the local community would supply all the labour. With nine chiefs it was difficult, blood from a stone likeness!!. We are nearly there, with the Blackrock Outreach 2009 Crew coming to our rescue with the painting, where last year’s crew helped with the construction. Sticking to your principles is tough, but it’s the only way to go as we don’t do handouts. We just waited for the local community to move and eventually it happened.
Newly plastered, painted and decorated rooms should give a great boost to the staff on their return from holidays. The new school principal should also be encouraged.

Salisbury Line Orphan Day-care Centre
In August 2008 we were approached by a women’s group who introduced themselves as a group with an orphan care centre looking for help.
We investigated them and agreed to help. What we found was a wooden building without a roof and a group of maybe 100 starved looking little ones, singing welcome visitors we love you (which should have been enough to set alarm bells ringing but all we saw was the little ones, with their swollen bellies and rags).
In November 2008 we bought a plot adjacent to their building and also the land they were supposed to own! We built a two classroom building which was opened in Feb 9, 2009 and called it Aras Kate.
We returned in March to find maybe 300 children, teachers with no training and no pay, trying to cope, and Mary set about putting some shape on it!!
The situation was probably typical of a type of people calling themselves groups or organisations. They have some backgrounds in minor beau racy, set up around say orphan care or orphanages, find donors, pay themselves large administration fees, deliver little of what they promise, and when the donor money is gone move on to another source of funding. Most is about money and little is about delivery of service. This is not a once off occurence, it’s part of the scenery in Malawi and I’m sure elsewhere, where poor control and accountability wastes millions and delivers little.
In March with the help of our friends and analysts from the DIT student group, Mary set about employing and training eight staff (a three week course), most without formal education. I can now confidently report that this place is amazing and would rival anything of its kind anywhere. We have a great team and a hoard of well fed happy little ones.
Nine staff, 250 little ones, all happy, all fed and looking well despite the deprivation of the area.
The care centre operates 7.30am to 11.30am, but now it is developing a life of its own after midday.
The latest news is that an agreed management structure has been put in place with two nominees from W4Z, two from Mbaweme, the chief, one teacher nominee and two parents, male and female. The chair will be Charity Amin who will also be school principal. Charity was the driving force of the resolution to our difficulties. (Drs Paddy and Gary will attest to her communication skills)
Mary invited parents to a meeting, more than 120 came. They discussed the needs of the area, brought home wool and needles, asked for primary school classes (for themselves) beginning at the lowest level. As a first activity they agreed to start with netball twice a week, a stroke of genius and a resounding success. Imagine arriving at 7 am on the day of a proposed session to find four ladies of the night, marking the pitch eight hours early!
Drs Paddy and Gary, from the second Blackrock group, gave a talk on health and dental care to a packed and enthusiastic house another evening.
Mary has set up a knitting club for the teen girls.
As they say watch this space.

The Future of Áras Kate.
As I was concluding with watch this space, news has just arrived from Mzuzu. The City Assembly have taken our proposal on board and allocated an adjoining piece of land to us. If it was simple then all would be well, but unfortunately much work and wrangling has to be done now. A squatter has, illegally, assumed ownership of this land and we will have to negotiate a payment, for no other reason than we have to. At least the City Assembly will initiate the process and they say they will make the final decision in the event of a stalemate!! Harisen and Charity are on it, so all will be well.
The decision to give us more land was as a result of the production of a Memorandum of Understanding for the future of the project in Salisbury line, which outlined the history, future plans and concerns we have;

It is our intention to fund the activities of Áras Kate into the future by paying teachers/carers, providing porridge, continuing supervision, assessment and in-service by Mary Coyne of Wells for Zoe and supporting the continuation and enhancement of the school programmes.

Fundamental to the ongoing progress of the school is the involvement of the local community:
• Initially by overseeing the formation of a school management committee with representation from City Assembly and DEM office.
• We then envisage an increasing role for parents by inviting them to assist in activities as volunteers, at first.
• Setting up a Parent/Teacher Association to give opportunities to parents/carers to voice their needs and concerns and to enlist their support in the day to day running of the school.
• Realising that many parents have had a poor start with their own formal education, we feel that the promotion and implementation of Adult Education is vital, to enable parents to play their full role. Towards this end Charity Amin and two other local nominees will attend Adult Education training, paid for by Wells for Zoe and provided by Mrs Misika of the Community Development office, in Áras Kate in early January 2009. (It will never be our intention to pay any kind of expenses or allowances for such training)
• Liaise with three feeder Primary schools: Katoto, Michangatua and Chibavi.
• Check on progress and attendance of children transferring from Mbawemi/Áras Kate. Follow up with parents as may be necessary.
• Extend the school building add extra toilet blocks, a larger efficient septic tank, build a kitchen and extend the play area. For this we will require additional lands adjoining the present school site. (For which we have already made a proposal to the City Assembly).

Our Concerns
Wells for Zoe sees sustainable development as a dynamic process that can not be forced but more-so supported through interactive respectful partnerships
Running a facility like we envisage in Salisbury Line is a big undertaking for any community in any country and needs the help of many people and agencies. Over the coming years it is envisaged that through the School Management Committee and the Parents Association, Mbawemi/Áras Kate Preschool will become an established community based programme, reaching out to the community and managed and sustained by the community and an excellent team of trained teachers and carers. It must be a community based programme, but there are so few people with the background or skill to call on, at the moment, that it probably needs hands-on support for the next ten years from Wells for Zoe, gradually handing over to the community little by little. The director, teachers and carers have made such strides in less than a year to make this a place that anyone would be proud of, anywhere in the world. That gives us great hope.
Conversely, the Mbawemi Women’s Project have delivered on none of their promises and agreements and to date have failed to contribute in any meaningful way to the management or day to day involvement in the place. We have no issues about working with them, they did after all make the start, but we would like to know how and when they might be able to make a contribution. In light of recent developments, in Malawi, regarding misappropriation of donor funding of orphan care developments, it is important that all involved in the management of Mbawemi/Áras Kate Pre School would realise the importance of transparency and honesty. Wells for Zoe will fund the project, in total, for the next five years by including it in their five year plan. Any extra funding that might become available for this programme, through the Mbawemi Women’s Project must be passed on to the School Management Committee for further development of the programme at Salisbury Line. Wells for Zoe will not tolerate any misappropriation of funds.

Feeding and looking after the little ones in Áras Kate is a real joy and even though it is not the main focus of our work, it probably is one of the most rewarding despite all the hassles and difficulties.
At the moment we feed about 260 each day, (well the pot is full and some days the grannies and others do better) which includes little ones, teachers, volunteers and anyone else who comes to us hungry.
The meal is a porridge made from Maize, Soya, Groundnuts, Sugar, Salt and Honey.
We are hoping to add a vitamin supplement of dried Moringa leaves soon.
The cost of this is in the region of 168 Euros per month, which equates to about 3 cents per day. Anyone who compares how the children look now compared to last January will be amazed at the improvement.
Our other cost is for the wages of teachers, carers, and a cook; ten people in total is about, 230 Euros per month.
We would love if some group of people, staff, club or other could take on this task for us for a day, a week, or a month.
At the moment, a school in the UK, Wootton Bassett School, has paid for the food for seven months; One year group took on funding this and 15 wells. Don’t know them, never saw them: what a wonderful effort
Is there anyone out there to continue?

Luvuwu Full primary School
This is a real success story involving the awakening of a community to its own potential.
Further: What a difference a year makes
The impact of last year’s group has had a lasting and impressive impact on the remote, rural community in Luvuwu. The original project involved the whole community in the construction of a three classroom primary school in two weeks: no outside experts, no big fuss, no one got paid, just a real helping hand, of equals on a mission, where the students paid for the cement and the roof.
In the past year, this, now fired up and confident community have built a road and a bridge, shortening the distance to Mzuzu by four miles, got the Ministry to build a dam and have got the status of a full primary school. They have also worked hard on our local aids support group and food production.
Just recently they have built a new house for their excellent teacher Mr Williams and put a new metal roof on the Principal’s house.
They now have presses full of school books, mainly from Clontarf girls primary school, blackboards, maps and later in the year their first students will go to secondary school.
This is what inspiration can achieve; no one laid bricks, plastered or did carpentry; we all did the menial tasks. We carried bricks, sand from the river, and water from the well, as part of a community. There were no handouts just a little constructive funding.
They also carried babies, played games, sang, danced, had fun and enjoyed themselves.
I don’t know if anyone fully recognises the amazing students we have had as volunteers, and it’s up to every new crew to bring their individual talents and skills to the poorest of the poor and I for one have every confidence in them and look forward to being there. Their strength is in being themselves and how they relate to the Malawian people.
One student Liam Stewart, a third year business student, has a the unique achievement of getting permission to do his placement with us, going out on April 7 for six months, working on putting a structure on our business efforts. This was Liam’s third visit in the year and he has made a huge impact.
Summer 2009 has seen the return of a legendary figure in Luvuwu, Elaine Bolger from Blackrock, who has now become one of their own. She arrived back with books and loads of sports equipment, not to mention the two tilly lamps and parafin.
Standard 8 students in preparation for their final primary school exam have decided to stay in the school overnight and the lamps are enabling them to do extra work.
A little spark has lit a huge fuse in this community. They are now looking for micro credit for little businesses, advice on agriculture and irrigation and more simple help.
This development has little to do with money and all to do with restoration of dignity and a small dose of inspiration, education and challenge.
This is a DIT students project and we are very proud of them.

Our business strategy for Malawi.
We constantly mention that solving problems in sub Saharan Africa is not all about money and more money, it’s more about people. Of course anything to do with construction or transport needs money and we are so appreciative of all the support we get and all the effort people put in on behalf of W4Z..
Fundraising is a time consuming and expensive exercise and this is why we have avoided it to date. Our friends have done this for us, none more so than Blackrock College Outreach programme. The money raised has enabled us to do many simple and not too expensive programs, and other more expensive infrastructural efforts without agonising about fundraising.
In anticipation of some funding shortfall, in recessionary times, we have taken the view that by careful planning and business strategies, there is potential for some of our projects to generate funds which can be ploughed back into the general fund for all projects.

Lodge for Volunteers:
At the moment we are in the process of completing a four bedroom house for volunteers in one of the better areas of Mzuzu. We have just applied to build what is called, a boy’s quarters, which will double our bedroom space. Once we are up and running the local commercial lodge has agreed to rent our spare capacity.
We will employ a number of people to operate the place, like, cook, cleaners, watchmen, gardeners and others who we will train and pay. This in itself is beneficial to the area in terms of training and work experiences, but also makes sound commercial sense. If we were just to rent it out, by the month, it would pay for itself in about 5 years, after which time the positive cash flow would contribute to funding our projects.

The Farm
Our main focus on the farm is seed and seedling production, research and horticultural education, which all cost money. The addition of fish and chickens (a natural extension of what we do) will bring in revenue from sales.
We grow strawberries to produce runners and new plants, but the fruit is a lucrative by product.
We also have about 600 banana trees, and so can sell about 60000 bananas each year.

Citrus Trees
We have recently sown-out improved variety citrus seedlings, from which we will get buds and scion wood for future propagation. Here again the fruit is an added bonus, from which we will profit, either by selling or making fruit juice. To this end we have baught about 4 extra acres of land at the roadblock and more adjoining the farm in Lusangazi

In the past four years, Lilongwe had expanded out of all recognition and I would expect Mzuzu to be next, thereby creating a market for much of the produce we can spare.
SO the winners are all the people we will employ or subcontract or help to set up in business and all those we will teach and train: Some winners will be those who will copy what we have learned.
BUT our main focus is on pumps, which are not for profit, and many of which will be almost free (except for a few days labour, some bricks, manure) or whatever will ensure the dignity of ownership to the communities who get them.

General Programmes
Our general and small scale village projects begin with, and centre around, a well and a pump. We are told about a need, we visit the people, assess the need, (looking at the distance to the nearest source of clean water), outline what we require in terms of digging, bricks and labour, ask them about a contribution towards the cost of the pump, like a few days labour on another project, a bag of compost, some manure, some bricks. The gesture is more important than it’s value as we need to bring the dignity of ownership and the resultant respect for the pump. There will always be little indicators in a village as to whether they can afford to contribute or not!!
Having established the pump, we then discuss irrigation, seeds, education, and on a needs basis try to help further. Further association with a village is vital, as we can then monitor the pump and assist with any faults, which are rare, but a pump is a machine and you never know.
Since we started manufacturing the pump in Mzuzu earlier at the end of last year, I think we have installed in excess of 50 pumps, so that’s 50 new villages and maybe 5000 extra villagers to remember!
For a tiny organisation that’s a big responsibility. In most cases we are the only outside help these people get and I’m wondering how it can be done without administrators, which are such a drain on the finances of all societies, particularly those in sub Saharan Africa.

People constantly ask, what we will do next and I usually say more of the same; meeting needs, but even to get incremental progress you need to be constantly vigilant.
We recognise that in order to achieve lasting results, it is necessary to establish solid partnerships with as many organisations as possible. We are already working on programs that have the potential to scale up significantly in the region, we are also working some particularly innovative practices which may be replicated elsewhere.
Our work with Every home Global Concern may be the first of these partnerships, where we will initially train their communities in well building, pump installation and pump maintenance, supply them with pumps at cost price, and then look at innovative methods of designing modified pumps to meet their needs by working, on design innovation, with the Engineering Department of the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT), and other interested parties.
As always: A work in Progress

This are has been a slow starter, from feeding them in 2007, building a dam and fish pond in 2008. (Chris and Aidan with the Blackrock Outreach 2008 group, will remember the black, dirty soggy, hole, forever) The good news is that the community have finally been inspired to build and with our help stock a second fish pond. They have also worked on the dam and added many families to the irrigation project. More children are going to school since we renewed our efforts with the primary school, and finally they have begun a nursery school. Now it looks awful and when we arrived to try and help, we found a dispute between the two voluntary teachers and the 10 strong committee. We have asked the chief (Matthews) to intervene and I’m sure that progress will be made, slowly!!

Our Academic association with DIT We are delighted to be associated with The Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT). The students have been inspirational and are all now part of the W4Z family.
We have now linked with a number of Academic and Research Departments;

  • The MSC in International Business,
  • Students learning with Communities,
  • the School of Computing, as well as Business and Marketing.

Plans are underway to have a number of students on placement, with W4Z, in Ireland and Malawi next year from these departments as well as academic research and an MSc Consultancy.
This is a new and exciting development and something to really look forward to, in the New Year.