volunteerexperiences

Volunteer Experiences

Name: Carmel McCarron

Home Town: Dromore

 At 6.30am on Monday 27th July 2009 I left home on the first leg of my journey to Lusaka in Zambia. I was feeling very apprehensive, having no idea of what lay ahead when I arrived there.

 

Fr Jim O’Kane met us at Lusaka airport at 6.30am on Tuesday morning and brought us to our base in the SMA grounds on the outskirts of Lusaka. Accommodation in the cottage there was basic but very secure with the four German Shepherd dogs on duty day and night. To our surprise it was cold and we were glad of our fleece and trousers. After breakfast we headed to Chainda to see the multipurpose hall and have a look at the task that lay ahead of us. The tar roads soon disappeared and we became aware of the red dust blowing in the cool wind. The centre was easy to see as it commands a prominent position on the outskirts of the Chainda compound. The building is very impressive and after a tour of the building we were brought to the proposed library. The room was stacked high with boxes and trays of books and one side of the room was shelved in preparation. We requested more shelving and were introduced to Alex and his team who would be working along side us putting up the extra shelving.

 

Over the next two weeks we handled hundreds of dirty, dusty books but at the end of the two weeks we had completed the task and the centre now has a library as well as a computer suite and various classrooms including a special needs unit.

 

The Spirit of Paul McGirr website gives information about Chainda: the size, population, living conditions, poverty and the prevalence of Aids and the resultant number of orphans and vulnerable children. However, it is only when you see it and visit the homes of the poor and sick that the reality of it all hits home. The conditions these people live in are impossible to describe or imagine and the scale of the poverty is hard to believe. Most of them are lucky to have one ‘meal’ a day and that meal is likely to be the basic wheat based staple food with no fruit, vegetables or meat.

 

So much is being done to help the poor and sick but the scale of need is so immense that it appears like a drop in the ocean.

 

My journey to Zambia was a great, if sometimes distressing, experience. I met so many lovely people and saw so many sights. I am very glad I took the plunge and made the decision to go and I would not rule out the possibility of going back some day.

  

Name: Patrick McNabb 

Home Town: Dromore (Co Tyrone)   

Occupation: Site Foreman

When did you go to Zambia: March 08


What first made you get involved with The Spirit of Paul McGirr project in the parish of Lusaka, Zambia?

I was intrigued by the challenge, particularly the building of the multi-purpose hall. I felt that some of the skills I have developed through years of working in the construction industry would benefit the people of Lusaka.  

What did you imagine Zambia to be like? 

A very poor and barren country.

What were your first impressions of Lusaka, was it anything like you had imagined?

The land was a lot more fertile than expected.  Lusaka was impressive, yet the township of Chianda was a scary experience. 

Did you enjoy the experience?

Yeah, it was an eye opener! I was very impressed the by friendly nature and easy going attitude of those with so little.

Has the experience changed you in any way?

I have a greater awareness of the situations of those less fortunate than myself. I felt that the people of Lusaka were willing to work and only needed guidance to help them prosper.   

 

 

Name:   Colm Donnelly

Home Town: Dromore (Co Tyrone)

Occupation: Quantity Surveyor

When did you go to Zambia: March 08

 

What first made you get involved with The Spirit of Paul McGirr project in the parish of Lusaka, Zambia?

I wanted to use my experiences to give something back to those less well off. 

What did you image Zambia to be like?

I expected it to be poor, unhealthy and in futile land. 

What were your first impressions of Lusaka, was it anything like you had imagined?

My first impression of Zambia was how friendly and happy the poor people were even though they have very little.  

Did you enjoy the experience?

It was an unbelievable experience.  I was glad to have the chance to go and would say to anyone that ‘it is a life changing and very rewarding experience. 

Has the experience changed you in any way?

It makes you appreciate what you have at home and how pathetic it is how we grumble over such immaterial things.

 

Name: Fintan McCarney

Home Town: Dromore (Co Tyrone)

Occupation: Plaster

When did you go to Zambia: June 07

 

What first made you get involved with The Spirit of Paul McGirr project in the parish of Lusaka, Zambia?

I liked the sound of the experience and the challenge they were presenting. Also it was a chance to meet new people and experience different cultures.

What did you image Zambia to be like? 

 I was expecting a very poor country, with limited resources and harsh living conditions.

What were your first impressions of Lusaka, was it anything like you had imagined?

 I was very surprised by the social division.  There is a large divide between the rich and poor.  I didn’t expect their to be shops, bars and restaurants in Lusaka.

Did you enjoy the experience?

 Yes, I thought it was a brilliant experience and I would love to go back.

Has the experience changed you in any way?

 I definitely feel that it has opened my eyes to the important things in life. I feel humble for what I have and I don’t ‘cry’ as much about the small pointless things!!


Copyright of the Spirit of Paul Mc.Girr.
Designed by Justin Walsh.
Developed by Rycoweb.