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Board Member, DIT, Volunteer

Elaine Bolger

My First Malawi trip


Wells for Zoë is an Irish charity organisation which was set up in 2005 by Mary and John Coyne. Wells for Zoë concentrates on low cost, small scale, appropriate and sustainable water technology. It has been worked out that a single euro can provide water for life to an individual. Water is the source of life; it is the Wells for Zoë belief that clean safe drinking water is the most important starting point for all development. Firstly, it is a basic need of any healthy community. Secondly, its local availability will mean that the women and children will not have to get up before dawn to search for and carry water for miles. A local water supply will benefit the community as the children can attend school and the women will have more time to tend and irrigate the much-needed crops, along with all their many other tasks. Since its introduction, it has also moved into other areas of importance such as schools, farming, orphan centres and more. They help the people of Malawi by giving hand up’s, not hand out’s. Meaning they can learn how to help themselves and not be so dependent on aid from others.


Malawi itself is a small country bordering Zambia and Mozambique, with a population of just over 13 million. Life expectancy here is about 41 years. HIV/Aids infection rate according to the government is said to be about 14%, whereas hospitals would suggest 40 – 60%. The area in which Wells for Zoë concentrates is Mzuzu in Northern Malawi. I will be travelling out there on April 5th for the third time along with a group of 15 others from DIT. The work done over there is incredible and there is nothing like the feeling of going out to work in the villages. Last March, 10 students including myself travelled over to do three simple things: Inspire, Educate and Challenge. Our major task was to complete a three-classroom school in a village called Luvuvwe in a timeframe of two weeks….and the mission was miraculously complete. We did very little but it went a long way, we provided the materials necessary and gave guidance and motivation to achieve. The local people did everything else. The spirit of community was truly amazing, everyone helped, from children aged as young as four to adults as old as sixty. Women carried bricks on their heads, the men plastered, laid bricks, the children did all they could to give a hand and be a part of the project. They themselves could not believe the work they got done in two weeks. Along with the school, a garden was created, a youth group was formed and a HIV group. This shows the huge impact that you can have on a single village. I cannot describe the fulfilment one gets from being involved with a community that wants to help themselves. The people are so friendly and are constantly smiling, regardless of the troubled lives a lot of them live.


The newly built orphan day care centre will be the main focus of our trip this year. The centre provides a good meal and care for more than 420 orphans each day. For a lot of these children, the meal they receive here is their only one of the day. We will be bringing large quantities of clothes, toys and materials for the children so as they have something to take from our visit over. I am counting down the days to set off again and I’m sure it will not be my last visit.


To return to the same villages each trip and be greeted by welcoming smiles, handshakes and hugs make all the organising, long flights and injections worthwhile.


It is truly a lifetime experience, one with both enjoyment and fulfilment.


The one question asked over and over to me by friends and family when I returned was ‘Is it sad?’. But my simple reply was ‘It is not sad unless you make it that way’. You can stand back and pity the poor or you can get so involved that you don’t even notice the difference in your lives.


My thanks to Deirdre for sending a copy of TOAST, the DITSU magazine



Since then…


Elaine has been to Malawi six times, graduated with a first in her Business and management degree in DIT and is now a member of the w4z Board.

Visited Malawi

Six times incl. 2008, 2014