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Insights from Malawi: An Intern’s Journey


March 9, 2020 • 3 min read

In the next instalment of law graduate Tom Seward's blog, we gain an insight into exciting developments underway in GOAL Malawi's operations.

"Getting to see the work GOAL does at every stage, from proposal development to implementation to result measurement, is something I really enjoy."

I am happy to report that the International Women’s Day March and Activities in Blantyre that I mentioned last week were a great success! The march saw people from all walks of life come together to celebrate the theme #EachforEqual: An equal world is an enabled world. The march culminated at a local sports club with traditional dances, music, poetry and a session on gender equality by a local youth group. Mrs Esmie Tembenu, a retired child magistrate and one of GOAL Malawi’s Advisory Committee Members, spoke eloquently and inspiringly of her challenging upbringing and subsequent rise through the ranks of law. She called on all girls and women to continue the fight for equality.

International Women’s Day Celebrations held in Blantyre, Malawi on Sunday March 8th.

This week, a lot of my work has been research focused. I’ve been tasked with identifying key readings that can be used in an internal Leadership Development Programme that GOAL Malawi is in the process of putting together. The aim of this programme is to use the wealth of experience and knowledge of the GOAL Malawi senior management team to prepare the next generation to be equally as effective in leadership and management roles. The course includes six modules: understanding the NGO sector; leadership management and governance; leading strategically; managing finances and systems; managing people; and resource mobilisation. Each module will be convened by a member of the management team, and I am supporting them to collate reading lists for each module. This has proven really interesting and has given me a better understanding of the development sector as a whole.


I’ve also been assisting with preparations for an event which the Malawi INGO Cash Consortium, of which GOAL is a member, is hosting next week on the cash for cash in responding to humanitarian crises. I have been helping with the development of a concept note for a new project aimed at promoting sustainable livelihoods for vulnerable smallholder farmers in hard to reach rural areas. Getting to see the work GOAL does at every stage, from proposal development to implementation to result measurement, is something I really enjoy.


I couldn’t write about what’s been going on this week without mentioning coronavirus… Although Malawi has no confirmed cases of COVID-19 within its borders, the authorities are ramping up prevention measures, amongst them protocols for quarantining visitors arriving from certain countries. The GOAL team has also been focused on preparedness, with awareness messaging going out to all staff and handwashing stations in place in our offices. The management team is also preparing a detailed response plan in three priority areas: staff safety, business continuity, and impact mitigation and response.


With events being cancelled left, right and centre across the globe there was some worry that the same might happen to the Malawi Irish Society’s Paddy’s Day Ball here in Lilongwe. With one day to go, however, it is still set to go ahead, albeit with some additional precautions to ensure it poses no dangers to public health. This was good news for me, as alongside four other young Irishmen I am due to be giving a once-in-a-lifetime, lip-sync/dance performance on stage to one of Ireland’s musical treasures: Westlife! As ridiculous and hilarious (hopefully!) as this prospect is, we have actually been rehearsing a fair bit over the past few months, although admittedly the rehearsals session have also involved a fair quantity of beer. Hopefully we are able to show off our hard work this weekend, and really honour the musical masterminds that dominated the late 90s and early 2000s.


You’ll have to wait until next week to see how everything pans out!