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Mary I College Limerick, Volunteer

Niamh Keating

Why did you come to Malawi?

Firstly, I came to Malawi because I was inspired in a way by the outstanding work carried out by Wells for Zoë, in Malawi. I came to complete my AEE while also gaining experience of primary education in another country to enlighten me and inform my own teaching and life learning.


First impressions (Positive, Negative)

Positive impressions from the word ‘Go!’ Warm-hearted people, rich culture, talented students. Negativity was not a part of this experience whatsoever.


Visit to Farm – Experience

The visit to the farm was incredible – and that is an understatement! I must give my thanks to Mateus, Robert and Dave, for showing us around and teaching us about the work they do. I would have remembered them if it it hadn’t been such an amazing experience!


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

Highlights: Music in-service session was so rewarding; Having the opportunity to teach 100 kids in a class was beyond incredible
Challenges: Very few challenges as students were so enthusiastic and eager to learn from us
Support: Our teacher told us we showed him how to make the classes active and engaging, even with limited resources.


I will never forget / I will always remember…

I will never forget the experience we all shared in Katoto Full primary School, in particular having witnessed children coming to school with no shoes, copies made with twine and paper on an empty stomach, I will never complain about life in schools in Ireland again. It makes our petty problems seem ridiculous and has greatly impacted on my view of education as a future primary school teacher.


Saturday Classes, how did you contribute?

I contributed to Saturday classes by taking exam classes Form 2 and taught /revised various sections of History & Science that they struggled with only 2 days before their exams. I also helped Phil plate up the food for the girls and staff of W4Z. Wonderful memories!


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

Positive – witnessing water pumps being installed was most definitely one of the most fulfilling opportunities, seeing the sheer joy on their Malawian faces was something I will never forget; Katoto Music In-service
Negative – the locking of a vulnerable child with S.E.N. into a tight space impacted my outlook of how important/crucial it is to positively reinforce good behaviour.


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

I wouldn’t change a thing but I would advise students in the future to bring a diary. It really helped me to document each experience. When I go home, I plan to make a scrapbook with pictures, diary entries and gifts I received along the way. A keepsake like this would be very beneficial for the classroom.


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

Go with an open mind – your best experiences will occur with a broad perspective on various lifestyles and culturally.
Inform Mary I how important it is to make meaningful communication with W4Z.
Ask as many questions, no matter how silly you may think it is – John and Mary will gladly assist you. I have never come across a more giving and kind pair! They took us in as their own.


Final thoughts?

When can I come back?!
Thank you again John and Mary for your kind hospitality and making this an unforgettable experience for us all. Your achievements in Malawi regarding education for girls and the provision of the basic human right of water deserves a ‘Persons of the Year Award.’ I hope to stay in touch and keep up to date with your huge progress.

Visited Malawi

June 2016

Student of

Mary Immaculate College, Limerick

Duration of visit

4 weeks


Cahir, Co. Tipperary