Below is one young man’s reflections on a trip to his immersion experience:
“17 days ago, I eagerly embarked on a once in a life time opportunity to Kabwe in Zambia. From starting secondary school, the trip to Zambia is an excursion sought after and one which ranks high on everybody’s wish list. It is fair to say, before we went, we all knew a lot about Zamda, Sables Nua and Zambia itself but no amount of photographs, stories or videos can truly capture what life is Sables Nua is actually like.
Sables Nua far exceeded my expectations, and the range of facilities and general atmosphere would emulate any school in the Western world and something I never expected to see in Zambia. Sables Nua is testament to all those who have volunteered and left their own lives behind in order to make the life of somebody else that bit better and their hard work and dedication is noticed as soon as the gates close behind you.
On our first day, we were greeted by the children and they performed a traditional Zambian dance and sang us a ‘Welcome Song’. Afterwards we got down to work, half of us stayed in Sables and began constructing new pathways and the other half went to Ranchhod hospice which is also supported by Zamda Ireland. For majority of my trip, I worked in the hospice which caters for those in the final stages of HIV/Aids. Our job was to paint the exterior of all the buildings in the hospice, every day the group would split and and report for work about 8 AM each morning until 1 PM, throughout my time in the hospice, we gradually became accustomed to the staff and patients who we would greet and talk to throughout the day. The staff even gave us all a traditional Zambian names which they used while we worked in Ranchhod, my name was ‘Monzonda’.
We would then be picked up at 1 PM and brought back to Sables where we could mix and interact with the children. Each day, we had a choice of playing Football, Volleyball, Net Ball or Basketball but some days, random things like a water fight would happen. One thing which struck me most was just how happy the children were to be around us and our presence alone could generate so much happiness, seeing how happy the children were made me forget, that every single child had a story and a background and that is why they are in Sables but I think each morning when the children pass through the gates, that they too forget about what their life is like outside of Sables even if it is, just for a few hours.
One of days, we visited a school in the bush, where over 30 kids were confined to a classroom. They had no water because the pump which they relied on for safe drinking water, broke. They had no sports facilities, but saying that they didn’t really have anything. It took us to go to the bush school, to truly understand how good Sables was and how far ahead it was. It really put things into perspective and just showed, that Sables too was once like the school in the bush but consistent hard work and dedicated volunteers can really make that much of a difference.
One of the best and most eye opening experiences during my time in Kabwe occurred on my final day, when I got the opportunity to join the children on their walk from the slums of Makololu into Sables. We were dropped at Kelvin’s house at around 6 AM and we began our walk as the sun was rising, we walked along a dirt road with dilapidated houses either side. People awoke to the sounds of the roosters crowing. Outside each house was a smoldering pot, presumably where they cooked last nights dinner. The walls of the houses were thin and weak and the roof was a metal sheet with holes in it, and was held down by bricks. This is what I imagined Africa to look like and there we were walking through one of the biggest slums in Zambia with some of the happiest children you could possibility ever meet in your life. The further we walked, the more children we met who joined us. Not one child, ever complained about how early it was or how far they had to walk, they were just happy they had the opportunity to go to school.
The work done at Sables is extraordinary and school itself and the facilities are remarkable. Beyond the walls of Sables is a completely different world, a world where you have to be tough to survive and without Sables what hope and what future can we honestly expected for those children. Sables is truly a amazing place, which protects and helps the most vulnerable children and provides them with a gateway to a better future and life off the streets, that they would have never had were it not for Sables.
This was just my story, my experiences and my opinions, I hope I have given you an insight into my time in Sables but no amount of stories or pictures can make you understand what it is actually like, unless you take the plunge and travel there and see for yourself.”
Danny De Vaal (TY Student, St.Joseph’s Fairview)