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Tessa Fleming

I wanted to come to Malawi to make a difference, to help people and communities to build wells for water and grow food and work physically hard to make a difference in Malawi. But now that’s not why I am here. My perceptions of Wells for Zoë have changed. It’s not about me working hard, digging wells, and it’s not about me making a difference. It’s about providing opportunities, support and encouragement for Malawians to make a difference for themselves.


Until now I have never imagined the importance of just being here, encouraging people, working with them, listening to them and even playing with them.


Today and yesterday the journalist students went to Zolo Zolo secondary school to facilitate a simple journalism workshop. It was amazing to see how the students enjoyed it and how they allow themselves to be free, to have fun working, to have fun dreaming and how inspired they were about the possibilities of education.


We exchanged emails and phone numbers with the students so that we can continue to work with them, to support and encourage them long after we leave. We will always be there for them.


Not only did we work with secondary students but we went to pre schools in various villages. We were really welcomed by the locals and in particular the teachers. I soon came to realise that their schools have practically nothing. We played with the children on each visit and they quickly became comfortable with us, laughing and running around and actually being children.


John and Mary Coyne have done so much here working with small communities. In Lusangazi for example, the most amazing farm has been set up by Wells for Zoë which is run completely by Malawians; a small, close knit group of people doing their own research in order to achieve the most efficient and practical way of farming and particularly the most sustainable. They have a small hostel on site which visitors can stay in free of charge and work with Wells for Zoë farmers, learning these sustainable practices.


As we drive down different roads and through different villages, it is a common occurrence for John to get out and talk to the small local farmers about their difficulties and offering them the opportunity to visit Lusangazi. It’s there for everybody.


I couldn’t imagine a more welcoming and helpful, hardworking farmers than those at Lusangazi. They are truly amazing.


Going home, I know why I am here. I am not here to do the jobs that the Malawi people could do in half the time. I am not here to teach or to preach, to lead or to be followed. I am here to work with the people, to build friendships, a network of support and encouragement that can be continued long into the future. I know that while I may be back in Ireland soon, Wells for Zoë will continue to be here in Malawi, and will continue to be a community of people that will always be there, that will always offer help and support, that will always extend the hand of friendship and that will never give up.

Visited Malawi

Easter 2011


DIT, Volunteer