as a Board Member
Jacquie Ryan is from Tipperary, and has visited Mzuzu with Wells for Zoë twice; in 2009 and 2015. A graduate of Griffith College, Dublin, she holds an LL.B. in Law and a MA in Journalism. She based her dissertation for the MA in Malawi making a radio documentary called ‘A hand up not a hand out’, telling the story of Wells for Zoë’s ten years in Malawi.
Her area of interest is girl’s education and sanitation at schools. She will return to Malawi in December 2016, and plans on spending a year volunteering with us.
as a Volunteer
There is a place called Malawi? This was my first question when I was told about Wells for Zoë, I was starting my year as Students’ Union President at Griffith College and Paul During approached me to set up a society to help fund raise for Wells for Zoë. My first visit to Malawi was the following summer, July 2009.
I was shocked and so happy to have the experience. My feelings were not of despair but one of admiration. Malawi is not full of kids screaming with flies on their nose and starving, it was a country of people doing their best to survive and making the best of what they have got, huge smiles and big laughs, Malawians are generally happy people. All they need is a hand up and not a hand-out.
I was shocked was the work being done by a small organisation such as Wells for Zoë. At that stage they were working with pre-schools, were installing pumps and encouraging sustainable farming. There was talk of a birthing centre and a volunteer house.
In 2015, when in the process of completing my dissertation the opportunity arose to once again travel to Malawi with Wells for Zoë. The changes were amazing, there was a preschool programme, and there was an amazing farm structure encouraging fixation of nitrogen and fruit farming. The birthing centre was built, but now it served as much more purposeful, it now is a community centre a medicine dispensary and a village meeting hub. As for the house? There was a four bedroom house in Chimallero (bedrooms each have two bunk beds and have an en-suite bathroom, and a large pump factory has appeared in Lubeninga. The factory was so well organised, and the Malawian team members were in the process of introducing a new pump that would allow them to water crops.
I was amazed at the work completed, yes it had been six years since I had been there but Mzuzu and Wells for Zoë, had achieved so much you would not expect such advancements in 10 years.
One of the most important things for me is the education system and the education of girls. This is something at the core of Wells for Zoë. The girl’s dorm in Choma was something you could only dream about, these girleens going from sleeping under the stars to now being SAFE! They have a door and windows and toilets with doors! Basic items enabling them to gain an education. The smiles and efforts were simply amazing.
One thing Malawians need is a hand up (not a hand-out) the other is a listening ear. They are on a long journey and in Mzuzu Wells for Zoë, is a key component to that journey. Malawi can one day be the bread basket of Africa and will get there one seedling and one pump at a time. It is the likes of Mary and John and Wells for Zoë can make that happen, they are the shoes of the journey.
This Muzungu (white person) is heading back!