Zambia Immersion Project 2017
By: Rian O’Connell
On the 11th of February 2017, sixteen students and five teachers left Ireland to begin their trip to Zambia. A sixteen-hour flight was on the books as well as an eight-hour public bus journey to Livingstone after a night in “Cah Cah Cah”. After more than a day of travelling, the students were happy to rest their heads in Fawlty Towers, making sure that they were ready to begin their immersion in the local community the next day.
Linda Community School
Everyday Andrew, Cian, Eoin and I headed on the back of a pick-up truck to our school. It is something you can only dream of doing at 8 am on a school morning with the non-forgiving African sun burning you no matter how much factor 50 you put on. An outdoor classroom with no shelter from the sun is where the four of us taught for the two weeks. Our tans were definitely getting a well needed top up. We taught the students English, Irish, Maths and Geography, as well as a few Irish phrases. The break time was lethal, there was one ball between fifty or sixty kids and they fought for it. In my opinion it was the best 20 mins of the day for me whether I was playing basketball with the kids or talking to a kid who seemed lonely. It was one of the most rewarding feelings ever when you asked a shy kid how they were and before answering they grinned from ear to ear and then said “I’m fine”, which they replied with every time without fail. Leaving the school was an emotional event. The whole school went into a hall (which was also used as three classrooms) and in the hall they sang and danced in traditional Zambian ways. It was overwhelming that the whole school wanted to clap, dance and sing just to say goodbye to us. It really was unbelievable and the kindness that they showed to us made us feel as if we were right at home. But as we got in the bus it felt as if we didn’t want to accept that we wouldn’t be going back to the smiling faces in the Linda Community School the next morning.
The Lubasi Home
The Lubasi Home is an orphanage that houses thirty-seven boys and girls between the ages of three to eighteen. Over the next two weeks we went to the kids and played football with them, played with them in the yard and just sat with them and talked about nearly anything from what they wanted to do after school to who they idolised. I know personally it was very hard to talk to these kids about certain topics but they were all very ambitious, wanting to become soccer players, accountants, journalists and really anything you can dream of. They were set on their goals and leaving I could only simply pray that they live their life to their full potential. The time with these very special kids went way too fast and I’d give anything to spend another day playing football with them. When the last farewell came, we cried as they sang us a goodbye song, we cried when we walked to the bus, we cried when we travelled home on the bus and some of us cried when we got back to the hotel. That bus journey home was the quietest bus journey ever and not one word was spoken by any of the sixteen lads, because, in the Lubasi Home, we fell in love and had our hearts broken at the same time.
During the one weekend that we didn’t spend travelling, we visited a safari in Botswana and the Victoria Falls. The safari started with a boat trip followed by a trip around a rain forest in a truck. During the safari the whole team felt at home as the rain poured down like a great Irish winter day. We saw a lot of animals including rhinos, hippos, elephants, giraffes and alligators just to name a few. The next day we visited the Victoria Falls, one of the seven wonders of the world. Even Shakespeare could not use words to describe it. It was the most amazing thing I have ever seen and I will have to see it again in my lifetime because it was just an unbelievable experience.
From all of the 2017 Zambia Immersion team we would like to thank everyone that helped us over the past year and enabled us to go on such a successful and life changing trip.