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Mary I College Limerick, Volunteer

Clodagh Buttimer

Why did you come to Malawi?

I came to Malawi to visit a new country and to experience a new culture. I felt like the best way to go to a poor country like Malawi is to go as a volunteer, to help in whatever way I can and not to be just another tourist passing by.


First impressions (Positive, Negative)

My first impressions were quite neutral I think. I was focusing on soaking it all in. I tried not to have any expectation but as it is my first time going to Africa of course I had the poor, sad image in my head that TV feeds us. So my impression was positive compared to these images. I saw a country full of people smiling and waving and living their life the best way they can.


Visit to Farm – Experience

I’m not a farmer, or a country person – so I preferred to spend my time in schools. But I did enjoy the tour we got in the first week, seeing the workers be proud of what they have been growing and doing.


Katoto Primary School Placement (Highlights, Challenges, How did you support the teachers)

My highlight was working with the children, engaging with them and getting to know them a little bit. It was so encouraging seeing their positive attitudes to learning. I found it very challenging wasn’t around to see what we were doing and to learn with us. It felt pointless at times to see we could only make a short term impact not a long term impact if the teachers can’t pick up what we were doing. We didn’t have long enough with the one teacher that really wanted to learn from us.


I will never forget / I will always remember…

I will always remember the hard working workers of W4Z that always have a happy smiling face on them. They don’t let anything keep them down. They have been such good friends to us over here and I will never forget that.


Saturday Classes, how did you contribute?

Because there were 12 of us at the centre, the classes seemed overcrowded with us all, so I went out to help Phil cook for the girls. I loved this, learning how to cook. The next Saturday I interviewed a girl. I enjoyed learning about her life but at times I felt like I was intruding too much as they don’t seem to like to talk about themselves here.


Any other experiences – positive or negative that will remain with you from this visit?

I really enjoyed visiting the special needs school in SJOG. The smiles on the children’s faces will always stay with me. It is great to see what can be done to make a school like that with some hard work and dedication. Of course there’s a lot left to learn but they have made great improvements so far.


Pre Planning:
What would you do differently?
Or what would you advise students coming on placement in the future?

I can’t think of anything I would change or do differently. Except maybe the time that we came it was very close to our placement in May and made it very stressful before coming over. I would rather come out in July or August.


Possible follow up suggestions for 4th year trainee teachers with W4Z and Mary I:

Maybe to explore and discuss possible ways to bring this experiences into the classroom.


Final thoughts?

Thank you for this amazing experience. So sad to be leaving but I am so appreciative of everything I got to experience and everyone I got to meet. I am determined to make it back again so hopefully this is only goodbye for now.

Visited Malawi

June 2016

Student of

Mary Immaculate College, Limerick

Duration of visit

4 weeks