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Mary I College Limerick, Volunteer

Jane Kennedy

Why did you come to Malawi?

Since I can remember I’ve always wanted to visit Africa. I just didn’t know what part, until we did developmental education in 2nd year of college. I picked Malawi & Wells for Zoë because unlike other organisations, this one had a more personal factor to it, like the African family I never had.


First impressions (Positive, Negative)

The people were so friendly, welcoming and warm-hearted. We stuck out like sore thumbs, that made me a little nervous but it was very comforting having John, Mary and the other 11 girls with me. Seeing the people and the poverty only wanted me to get started sooner.


Visit to Farm – Experience

Our guides Matthew, Dave and Robert were brilliant, they had so much knowledge and excellent English. They also made our experience very enjoyable, chatting while sharing their knowledge and stories with us. It allowed me to appreciate the hard work that goes into a Malawian farm of that scale and the fantastic work that goes on.


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

Highlights – getting to know the children, they were unbelievable, so enthusiastic, welcoming and hardworking.
Challenges – adjusting to the norms, such as HIV/AIDs; it was a shock to see how accepting they were of these traditions of early marriage and prostitution.
Support – designed visual aids, provided poems, rhymes, songs, methodologies, praised the teacher and acted as assistant during their classes.


I will never forget / I will always remember…

The pre-schools we visited, especially Mica school, the amazing kids, the fantastic teachers and the ongoing support they have received from Wells for Zoë.


Saturday Classes, how did you contribute?

By interacting with the girls, getting to hear their stories and families and also sharing mine. Teaching them lessons with Shannon, supporting them during the lesson. Showing them new games to play at break, it was such a pleasure getting to know them.


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

Positives – getting to know the children, staff and John & Mary. Becoming a family with the girls, visiting all the places you organized and gaining unforgettable experiences.
Negative – The night in Kaore (?) when the men snuck into our room.


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

I would worry less beforehand, I feel I would also bring less tea bags! To advise future students, I would say to totally immerse yourself in the culture, try everything so you will have no regrets.


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

Mary I should be more organised; we felt without the support of John and Mary we would no way be prepared, thank you very much for that. Wells for Zoë keep doing your fantastic work, you continue to inspire, involve and support people who have been touched by your charity.


Final thoughts?

This has been a surreal experience. I am devastated to be leaving. Every aspect of this experience has left me with more and more perspective and insight. Everyone I talked to at home say I will will come home a changed person and I believe this to be extremely true. Thank you eternally for this amazing adventure. I hope to be back soon, but for now best of luck for the future and continue to achieve and inspire.

Visited Malawi

June 2016

Student of

Mary Immaculate College, Limerick

Duration of visit

4 weeks