Even with the latest technology, this message is often spread best by word of mouth. The message is a simple one: everyone can improve the lives of remote rural villagers in Malawi by, almost direct, intervention. (For example if you want to send €5 to a project, even in a remote village, we can deliver it – without any deductions – all the way, where it equates to a farm worker’s wages for a week.)
I am not a fan of the volunteering as it is commonly perceived and practiced by many nowadays. Come when you like, commit to nothing and take no responsibility – after all you’re not getting paid for it. I feel that if you volunteer, it’s the real deal – as if you were the most highly paid.
I also have a problem where people raise money from others to fund trips for volunteering purposes, where the output is often way short of the expectations of the donors.
If you fund yourself to go you can of course choose to make a valued contribution, or not. You have spent your own money and can choose where and how you want it to go. If you achieve, and find a niche, then you can truly call yourself a real volunteer. If you had donors, who helped you achieve, you can tell them directly where their money has gone. This is possible.
Why is it always about money? Because, even a little money, going directly into Malawian villages, can make a real difference.
I often wonder is my own quest the best way of spending my money, or should I send it to the village and stay at home myself. In reviewing the past year in Malawi I have now defined something of a philosophy:
I feel 40% of my effort was helping the villagers to remember what they knew themselves; 30% was encouraging them to believe in the skills and abilities they had rekindled; 25% was the pure spirit of Northern Malawian women, remote rural women, who are strong, intelligent, determined, bright, cheerful and powerful, against all the odds; if the other 5% is missing, I must have brought it from outside.
These thoughts come after four visits to these communities. We have worked through a programme, seen joy, sorrow and frustration. I now realise it’s not about imposing what I know or can do, but finding what they can and are willing to do, and then empowering them to move on. We have started on a path to understanding, trust and respect, and patience on my side. It takes time and effort and I’m pretty sure that little could be achieved by one whirlwind, volunteering visit by anyone.
Therefore I feel the way to begin a sustainable relationship is by beginning with what I call ‘Voluntourism’…
This is an opportunity to look at real work situations as part of a holiday to Malawi. Take a two week, or so, holiday and spend 4 or 5 days doing the volunteering work bit. At the moment we are seeking discussions with a few Malawi tour companies to look at the possibilities of getting tailor made packages to include a Wells for Zoë element. Malawi has great potential as a tourist destination, but the industry is in its infancy. It has the lake, lakeside lodges, mountain lodges, national parks, and the animals. All unspoilt.
The work opportunity would be organized by Wells for Zoë, in some of the villages where we work. Nothing would be set up or virtual. You would work with the real village people, doing whatever task was on at the given time. You would be helping, and getting a feel for remote, rural, Malawian life, with a ban on giving any handouts to anyone. These people are poor but should be left their dignity.
The benefits here are obvious as you would be contributing to the Malawian Tourist industry, and the economy, by:
And what would you get:
I think this is called a win-win situation!
In cases I feel that this will lead to a long term sustainable relationship with a community in Malawi.
Depending on the season you may get involved in any of the following:
Conscious of our collective impact, due to our use of fossil fuels on our journeys, and the resultant effect on global warming, each participant will be asked to take part in our tree planting or seed nursery schemes in an effort to help erase our Global footprint. We will all plant twice as many trees as will make us carbon neutral. The bonus is that the trees planted will make a significant improvement to the ecology in the village.
Because we are a totally voluntary organization, any little help would be gratefully appreciated. Volunteer from home in one of the following areas:
See the DONATE page for more information on this.
FIND US DONORS
Seeking donations or support from the corporate sector would greatly help us. If you work for a company you think would like to be involved or you think you could persuade to be involved, let us know and we will provide you with all the information and back-up you need (report, multi-media, etc.).
BUY A PUMP AND INSTALL IT
See what this will do (and has done) for developing communities in our BLOG section.
PAY FOR YOUR CO2 EMISSIONS PROGRAMME
A new area we would like to establish is our ‘Trees for Flights’ or ‘Pay for your Emissions’ programme where people can pay for planting trees in Malawi to balance their Carbon Dioxide emissions at home and during travel. Click here for more details.
As an individual, community, school, church group, office staff, or company, adopt us as your charity to enable you to locate and deliver a sustainable twinning arrangement with your preferred project.
HOLD A FUNDRAISER
Even if you collect €5, it can pay the wages of one worker for a week on one of our projects. If you have the passion we have the ideas, if you need them.
DONATE ITEMS FOR OUR SHOP
Collect and Donate items/gifts for our Charity Shop, “Well Well Well“.
DONATE ITEMS FOR RECYCLING
Donate old mobile phones or ink cartridges to us so we can raise money by recycling them. Good for the environment – good for all of us!