Congratulations to the team selected to go on the 2017 Zambia Immersion Project. There will be ten students travelling to Zambia this year. Ciaran Adams, Cillian Barry, Victor Callinan, Matthew Gibson, Cormac McCarthy-Hann, Rory Murphy, John D. O’Hea, Thomas O’Regan, Sean Wallace, and Lughaidh Wiseman. They will be accompanied by the following teachers Ms. Clodagh Bergin, Mrs Anna O’Brien, Mr Michael Burke. On previous immersions, the teams had gone to Mufulira in Northern Zambia. Here they worked with the Christian Brothers in schools, in the hospice and building infrastructure. This year the Christian Brothers in Zambia had to cancel the project. The school were very fortunate to make an alliance with SERVE www.serve.ie to continue with the project in Zambia. This year the team will be heading to a new area in Zambia, Mazabuka. We are looking forward to working with SERVE on the ground in Zambia in various of their projects including the school and the farm.
There are a lot of fundraising activities this year, ball runs, table quizzes, bag packing, coffee mornings, busking etc. The main one this year being a Night at the Dogs on the 3rd of March in the Greyhound Track in Curraheeen. All of the students, their teachers and parents have put in huge efforts to reach this year’s fund raising target.
The College and this year’s Zambia team remain grateful to all in C.B.C. and in the wider Cork community for the much needed funds which are made available through the many fund-raising endeavours of students and their parents. These funds are used to support and develop projects on the ground in Zambia run by SERVE.
On Friday the 28th of May, 2015 10 students and 4 teachers departed Cork Airport. Our destination was Mufulira in Northern Zambia, a trip we had all been eagerly anticipating, since our selection in September 2014. One could say it was with a varying degree of emotions when we left our families and friends in the Departure Lounge, but the excitement in the group easily compensated for any nervousness or apprehension we may have had.
We flew from Cork to London, followed by an 8 hour flight to Ethiopia. To pass the time on this long flight, we watched a lot of movies interspersed with napping and chatting. The final leg of the
journey was a flight from Addis Ababa to Ndola in the northern part of Zambia.
The airport in Ndola was memorable. For all the world it was as if we had landed in a dust field. Our bags were brought from the airplane on a trailer behind a tractor. The arrivals hall was a rickety shed. Here we had to sign forms and declare how long and where we would be staying.
Waiting for our arrival was Brother Mick O’Donoughue, who was to be our host and guide for our stay in Africa. It was then a three hour journey from Ndola to Mufulira, which was our final destination and the end of our near 24 hour journey.
What we all first noticed about Brother Mick’s house was the high walls, the electric fence, and imposing gates locked by massive padlocks. It was obvious to all of us that we were far away from the safe communities of home, but in truth, over the next two weeks, we felt very secure in our new environment and knew that Br. Mick and his sta had our well being and security as his top priority.
After such a long journey across many thousand miles, we were all exhausted. We took an early night, and slept in late, one of the few ‘lie in’s we had. We then had the pleasure of attending a ‘Bembe’ Mass at St Patrick's Church and were given a warm welcome by the clergy and parishioners. One of the things that shocked all of us was the Zambians close connection to religion. It was a massive part of their lives and they could not go without it. It was one of the first days where we had our first experience of church. We were told to wear long pants and shirts and look respectable as they held religion in such high regard. We were expecting something similar to home the usual 40-50 minutes of a priest and his ceremonies on some aspect of life but we were shocked. It was the most vibrant and colourful mass we were ever at.
CBC Zambia Immersion Group at Cork Airport
No matter how poverty stricken a family was they made sure they were immaculate for mass, dressed in their Sunday best. It was such a contrast to home where religion isn't such a big part of our lives as it used to be. That thought us all a lesson. No matter how bad things were for them or their country they always had their religion. I felt like it was their beacon of hope for the future.
To familiarise ourselves with our new surroundings, Brother Mick brought us on a tour around the town and surrounding villages. We were conveyed around in some style in two open pick-up trucks. At the start being in the back of the pick-up truck was ‘cool’. We soon painfully realised that the suspension and the pot holes were not a good combination, and sought the sanctuary of the cabin behind the driver.
At the start I think we all found it hard to really take in and understand that we were in a completely di erent world. It was like nothing anyone of us had ever experienced. Seeing images on television or on the internet gives no idea of the shock realised on first experiencing Africa.
Welcome to Mufulira!!
Seeing children on the road in bare feet with torn and ragged clothes, it was hard to comprehend considering the country we had come from. Being driven around in an open pick up truck everyone pretty much saw us, and when they did see us they would stop whatever they were doing. At the start it was very unusual. We tried to break the tension and wave while shouting back ‘Muli Shani’ the Bembe for ‘Hello’. We often heard the phrase ‘Muli Shani Muzungu' shouted back at us meaning ‘Hello, White person'. Just like the waving, we got used to it. In truth, they were a very friendly community: greeting, chatting and finding out about the new 'muzungu' in town.
Monday morning came quickly, and the start of our regular trips to Murundu. For the first morning, we were again given a tour, this time by Liberty Lungo, who was the director of Murundu Development Centre and he explained the courses available to students - Motor Mechanics and Metal Fabrication. Then we had a chance to visit the Edmund Rice Vilage, built from previous funds raised by CBC. At present, 13 elderly people live here whose family have been decimated by the AIDS epidemic which was rampant a number of years ago, and they are the lone survivors.
The following days consisted of a lot of activities. 6:30am starts.
Breakfast, Clean Up and head to Murundu. We had an agreed programme of events as our teachers wanted to experience as much as possible, life at Murundu Development Centre.
Murundu is a small village based around 20km outside of Mufulira. A lot of CBC funds are utilised to the support the Development Centre. It is similar to a school were most of the students are over 20 and for a small fee every year they are thought a trade. These traits range from carpentry, auto mechanics and metalwork. The purpose of this programme is to get these students into a sustainable job. Fortunately the majority of the students from the Development Centre secure a job along, with a good wage, to support their families. Most will gain employment in the local mine, should their results be respectable.
Each morning, we were present at Murundu to join the students in their morning prayers at 7:30am. Ba (Mr.) George - the Course Director at the MDC - ensured we were all spread out amongst the students, he did this to get us to talk to the
students more. There would be a reading from the gospel in both English then Bemba. We would then turn into each other and discuss it amongst ourselves. We were always asked their opinions first. At the start we were taken back how these students in varying ages of their teens and twenties have such a connection to religion. It really plays a big part in their lives and they clearly respect it. It shows the massive contract between the young people in Zambia and the young people in Ireland.
The students were so welcoming and made sure that we were involved in all their daily activities. At the start you could imagine it was awkward but gradually we got talking to them and had some ‘banter’ while we tried some of the trades they were learning - You can guess who were better!
One of the big jobs the students would have to do in relation to the MDC was harvesting of the Maize. Maize was the basic crop in Zambia and was grown all over the country. This maize was also used by the MDC to feed its students, used in the Feeding Programme each month and also for the Mothers and Vulnerable Babies a the Clinic. I remember well the first day we travelled on the back of this massive truck (agan bought using CBC funds), packed with both the students and ourselves. It didn't take long for the songs to start. Just like their religion they loved their songs. All the songs they sung we of us. Mr.Lynch also encouraged us to keep a journal while we were out there. At the time it was a bit of a task but looking back on it, it was the best idea ever. We’d each write a few pages per day on how it went, what we did, who we saw and how we felt? At the start I think a lot of us found it hard to write down our emotions about the day but we soon got used to it. I often look back on my journal and read over things I have forgotten. The smaller details, or the unusual encounters that made the trip what it was. It is a great keepsake from the journey and we can have it to read back on whenever we like and remember the fantastic 3 weeks we spent together. One memory that comes to mind were the creepy crawlies. Nearly every 2nd night a new creature would be found crawling around Ms. Buckleys and Ms. Mannings room. Them running out of the room with the fright was a
obviously didn't understand but it was easy to see how much they loved their native songs. The rhythm with which they sung with was truly amazing, they truly are talented. It felt like a bit of a song battle as we shouted back our CBC chants that they didn't fully understand either.
When we arrived at the field, it was straight down to work, and hard work it was. As you can imagine in the soaring heat, with the sun beating down on your back, it wasn't made an easier. The field went on as far as the eye could see. We were harvesting maize for a good 4/5 days. What made the time fly by was the students. They were interested in us and interested about where we came from. We were inundated with questions about Ireland referring to our politics, education, religion - the whole lot. I personally loved them asking questions as you could ask the same thing back. There was clearly massive di erences. Some which shocked us.
Something that amazed all of us was technology, not one of us missed it. We all thought, along with our families that we couldn't survive without a wifi signal, social media or any modern technology for 3 weeks. Being without any of the social media, phones, computers or anything like that was an experience in itself. It was such a relief that we weren't chained to our phones like we used to be at home. We went back to basics. The nights were simple.
We used to chat, play some card games or sing some songs. It was so simple yet really nice. None of us could remember the last time we played a game of cards or left technology behind for a night. It was a real weight off your shoulders for all a unique sight to be seen by any CBC student.
Meeting with the local children has to be one of our highlights. The first afternoon, we drove out to the MDC and we were obviously expected to call. At first, 2/3 kids were there, then suddenly the word spread that we had arrived. In short space of time, over 100 kids were surrounding us, each looking for attention. It was a crazy experience. At any one time you could have 4/5 kids hanging o every available limb. It was like being the biggest celebrity in Times Square. Truly a surreal experience. We did simple things with the kids either a game of catch, soccer or duck duck goose! There was a language barrier with a lot of the kids, as they didn't understand the majority of what we were saying. It was such a satisfying feeling being able to put a smile on a little kid who has probably only smiled for the first time today. These kids have nothing. Their clothes are worn and ragged some were clearly very sick and malnourished but it was one of the small things we could do. A smile - simple but for them e ective.
We all had di erent experiences with the kids. You’d often see the same 2/3 kids going back to the same person. I remember I had a little boy called Adi who seemed to be fond of me. He didn't talk much but often just want to hold my hand like many of the other kids. It was nice that you'd see the same kid for a few days.
CBC tractor! Paid from CBC Zambia Immersion Project Funds
Unfortunately like any normal human being you get attached. I remember the day leaving I left him a little necklace I had and I tried to do it privately, but that was practically impossible with the
volume of kids. He appreciated it and I must admit, I was very sad to leave him and say goodbye.
Later in the week, we had the opportunity to visit a local orphanage run by a group of Korean nuns. This was yet another eye opening experience. More than likely all the kids parents in the orphanage had died from AIDS. AIDS had practically wiped out a whole generation in Zambia. These kids were of all age. Once again it was almost like a song battle. We sang our songs, they sang theirs; we danced, they danced. The young girls in the orphanage did a few group dances together and they were truly talented. We did our usually renditions of ‘The Fields of Athenry’, ‘Wagon Wheel’ accompanied with our usual CBC chants.
Entertainment at the Orphanage.
Before leaving I have to admit I was a bit lost for words, as these kids were left without parents and it is something a lot of people take for granted back in Ireland. We gave each kid a little token, the girls some hairbrushes, hair bands and the boys maybe a soccer ball or a nice jersey.
Something so small and cheap and they were ecstatic with excitement. They were so grateful too. It was an eye opener for all of us.
The trip was filled with eye opening experiences and another which I personally loved was the teaching!
We got to teach in the two primary schools both Chibolya and Twalubuka. Chibolya was a 5mins drive away from the Brothers' house. Br. Lubasi and Br. Smart both taught at the school, which is again resourced from the Christian Brothers' funds. It caters for very poor children. The children receive regular meals while they attend school and for many, this is their only stable diet. The wages of the teachers are paid by the Christian Brothers, as well as the provision of textbooks and other school supplies.
Twalubuka is a rural school about 15mins drive from the MDC and Br. Mick is very active here in providing Teachers' Houses and Toilets for the school. We were fortunate to be able to help lay the foundations of the houses and also help with the design of the toilets. Two houses and four apartments were being built to house teachers in the locality. Provision of adequate toilets is seen as important in encouraging children to attend school, especially girls. The success of Br. Mick's WaSH Programme was proof of this and again, funds which we had raised during the year were going to go towards a worthwhile project.
It was nice to have the tables turned and get a chance at something we wouldn’t be usually used to. At the start we were all split up into groups and admittedly we were all nervous. First we thought the kids about both Hurling and Gaelic Football. Explaining to them that these are our traditional sports back home. We then put their limits to the test as we gave them a chance to experience playing Gaelic Football. Stressful it was as you can imagine their excitement. After teaching them a bit about Ireland, the sport, the language and so on we got down to basics. We were given a plan by their teachers to give them lessons on specific areas. When they’d finish their in class work they would ask us to correct it. The idea of the ‘Red Pen’ to them was absolutely fascinating. They couldn't get enough. They asked for a tick next to each thing then wanted you to sign your name along with a comment ‘Excellent’ ‘Well done’ or another generic comment like so. Once again it made us think of how the little things like a nice comment mean so much to them. The classrooms were bare with a corrugated roof and a large chalkboard. Every class room has broken glass windows and broken tables and chairs. It was a far cry from the colourful, engaging classrooms in our own school.
As Brother Mick has been in Zambia for over 13 years, he has learnt a lot more about the culture then we would have experienced in our 3 weeks. He told us of how the male was the dominant in the household. Terrible stories of how the men would go out then drink their weekly wages and return home to beat their wife and children. Something that simply wouldn't be accepted in Ireland. He told us many stories and a lot of them truly horrified and shocked us. It was crazy to imagine that the kids we saw at the Development Centre would be subject to this each day.
During the second week we got the chance to go to Kitwe market and this really showed our group in a new light. Again it was all part of the culture. Nobody was expected to pay the full price, but it depended on how good (or bad!) our bargaining skills were. Everyone seemed to stock up on presents for home here. All sorts of random knick-knacks that were picked up at ridiculously good value. We brought everything home from a wooden walking cane to a fruit bowl. Naturally all the parents were delighted when we arrived home with our wares!
Definitely the saddest moment for the majority of us was the visit to the local Old Folks Home. This was a state run nursing home. The facilities were basic, with a few sta there trying to do their best to help in whatever way they could. What we usually did when we visited somewhere we took out the guitars and sung a few songs. At the start we were all quiet. I remember seeing two women walking into together holding a stick together. It dawned on me that the woman holding the end of the stick was blind and she was being led by her. There was a lot of old people there blind, missing limbs, sick, and varying other problems. We felt it almost impossible to watch. I think the majority of us were in tears by the end of it myself included. Probably one of the hardest things any of us had to do. It was soul destroying.
Another thing I remember well, was that half way through some of our songs, we were joined by an elderly man who had made his way over to us in a cart/wheelchair. He had pedalled himself over (the pedals were set up in a way in which he could pedal using his hands, as he could not use his legs), as he had heard the music and didn't want to be left out. It made our visit all the more worthwhile.
We did another simple gesture and gave each person a juice drink and packet of biscuits. Once again just like the kids in the orphanage they were so grateful and happy to see us. We visited the remainder of the rooms to visit the people who couldn't make it into the sitting room to see us, briefly chatting with them and exchanging greetings. To see the condition these people were leaving in was truly terrifying. Everyone single one of us was taken back. It was a quiet journey home and an early night to bed.
The days flew by and each day was something di erent. A new experience or challenge that we faced as a team. I personally felt at the start of the year none of the group were ‘best friends’ with each other. We were all out of our comfort zones. As the year of fundraising flew past, we bonded more as a team throughout each event in the busy school calendar. Its funny how much you learn about someone leaving with them for 3 weeks in a fairly tight room. You learn quickly who are the morning people and who are not!
Over the first 2 weeks rumours were circulating about a match to conclude our stay with the students.We were hearing CBC chants from the locals, led by Miss Buckley. It really did inspire us and after a frantic second period, CBC held on to its lead to claim victory. Br. Smart and Br. Lubasi played on our team and were invaluable to us. The pitch flooded with kids from the local village as they jumped with joy at our victory. Final result Ireland 1 - Zambia 0 (FT). Again, we sang a few songs and chants, and some of us had brought a T-Shirt to give to one of the opposing players.
Just as every other group that came out on the Zambia Immersion Project we left our mark. For a few days and after careful designing from James Keavney Jimenez our mural was in progress. James decided to go with the idea of a ‘Yellow Bird’ wearing a CBC jersey.
Ireland vs. Zambia! Through careful planning and training by Jerry Buckley, we felt confident. The first 20 minutes were a tense a air, with possession of the ball roughly 50:50. No clear cut chances as defences were well on top, ours well marshalled by Mr Ó Deasmhúnaigh and Daire Feeney. Finally a break through from a corner, when Alex McHenry drifted in unmarked at the back post and unleashed an unstoppable shot at goal, giving us a 1-0 lead. A quick half time talk, was followed by a 2nd half where each of us really believed we were Premiership footballers!! A large crowd had gathered and suddenly,
Over the weeks we thought the students the yellow bird chant and it was the one they liked most, so we thought it would be nice if that's how they could remember us by. After all of us signing our names our mural was done! It was beside murals from 2003 all the way up to the most recent being 2013.
The next day was our final with the last day with the students. They were telling us to expect a party! Over the past few days we had heard them practicing songs for it. We were entertained for hours on end by some songs, dances and even poetry.
We once again did our ‘party pieces’which included the odd bit of Irish dancing. One thing we noticed about the students is that they put their heart and soul into their music. They were all naturally gifted with their rhythm and beat. It was spectacular to watch. A few speeches from both sides, including some Bembe from Mr Lynch! When leaving, we shook everyones hand and said our goodbyes. It was touching to see a lot of the students were crying before any of us were. We spent the previous 2 weeks with these students, it was like leaving a group of classmates. They thought us their songs, dances, language and had included us in all their activities. We had laughs, jokes and made memories none of us can forget.
We had the unique opportunity of being joined by Dr.Jordan on the trip, as part of the Edmund Rice Education Beyond Borders scheme. We first travelled to Ndola Airport to collect him. We then drove down south to Kabwe. We had this chance to tell Dr.Jordan about the previous weeks and what we were doing. We arrived in Kabwe and got a tour of of a complex in the process of being built. This was purpose built for accommodating trainee brothers before being admitted into the brother hood. This complex was funded directly by CBC, completely separate to the Zambia Immersion Project. Although our time with Dr.Jordan was shorter than hoped it was a very unique experience having our College Principal on the trip
with us. Dr.Jordan then was continue on to South Africa to visit Christian Brothers Schools in Springs, Pretoria, Johannesburg and Cape Town.
It was sad to leave Br. Michael after spending 2 weeks with him. We cannot thank him enough for his generosity with his time throughout the whole year, helping us in every aspect of the project. Without him the continued success of the Zambia Immersion Project would not be impossible.
Farewell to Br. Mick from Group.
We stayed in Lusaka for the night. Driving into the city was like driving into a metropolis. There was extreme wealth in the city. From expensive fast cars to lavish houses. It shocked us all to think that another 5/10km outside the countries capital people were struggling to survive. We rose early the next morning and heard down to Livingstone. We checked into our hostel there and headed straight to the Victoria Falls, as we were all eagerly anticipating this. We were about to visit one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World! We were all truly shocked at the beauty of the falls. We walked closer to the falls over a series of bridges. Safe to say by this stage we were absolutely soaked. The height of the Falls generated a massive spray of water that spread hundreds of meters all around. No matter how many pictures we took from di erent angles not one picture taken can do it justice. It really easy something that has to be seen. We then descended to the water edge and saw the Falls from yet another angle. All being absolutely soaked we went back to the hostel and got changed and went for something to eat.
Fast food is just as popular in the western world as it is in Zambia. That night we all gathered and reflected on our trip as we realised we were coming to the end of our trip.
The next day we were lucky enough to experience a true African safari tour. Something you’d only see in the movies! It was amazing to see all the animals in their natural habitats. We saw everything from Bu aloes to Gira es living in harmony together.
And not to mention a visit to a Crocodile Park! We then made our journey back up to Lusaka. We stayed in the same hostel we did on the way down.
Our last night in Zambia was tough to come to terms with. For all of us the weeks flew by and it was bittersweet experience. We had a big breakfast the next day and headed to the local shopping mall. We all doubted we would get the experience to go shopping. It was hard to believe, but it was one of the most expensive places we have every been. We were all expecting some relatively inexpensive clothes but it was even more expensive than at home.
We headed to the airport and took our flight to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. Due to timing of the planes we had about 8/9 hours in Ethiopia. As expected it wasn't the most extensive airport and didn't have much to do, we had the chance to catch up on our journals that by this stage were falling behind! Then another 8 hours later we landed in
London Heathrow. It was never nicer to be on an Aer Lingus flight as we got the chance to hear some more Irish accents. Finally Cork! We decided it would be nice if we all put on the shirts that were hand made by some of the students at the MDC. It was like coming o the plane like a celebrity as a big group of parents cheered as we came out of the arrivals door. The hugs and kisses were plentiful and the trip, after three amazing weeks had come full circle.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved in the project. To all the teachers and sta in CBC, the Board of Management, the CBC Past Pupils Union and to Mr.Bruton and Dr.Jordan for their generous support of funds, facilities and time over the year. Also to Br. Mick for his hospitality and care while out in Zambia. To all the parents involved who were just as much apart of the team as we were, having to be in school weekly for meetings and were heavily involved in the years busy calendar.
Finally to Mr Ruadhán Ó Deasmhúnaigh, Miss Fiona Buckley, Miss Laura Manning and Mr Steven Lynch. There are not enough words to describe our gratitude. Without the teachers this would have been impossible. They were an invaluable resource and without their time, dedication and support we would not have had a successful immersion as we had experienced.
For anyone considering applying for future immersion projects I urge you to go for it. Put work into your project and show the teachers how
enthusiastic you are. It was a year of hard work, including long nights, a lot of planning and the odd flurry of stress but from coming out the other side I can honestly say it was the
most worthwhile thing any of us have ever done. If you are lucky enough to be chosen, it will be an experience of a lifetime that you will never forget.
Zambia Immersion Project Team 2015
Back Row (L-R): Evan O’Connell, Alex McHenry, Daire Feeney, Jerry Buckley, Mr Ruadhán O’Deasmhúnaigh, Kevin McCarthy, James Keaveney Jimenez, Grattan d’Esterre Roberts.
Front Row (L-R): Miss Fiona Buckley, Roy O’Mahony, Dr Larry Jordan, David Cronin, Mr Steven Lynch, Rory Doyle, Miss Laura Manning.
Previous Zambia Project:
Congratulations and thanks to teachers - Mr. Simon Kelliher, Mr. Keith Moynihan, Mr. Edmund Hussey and Mr. Alan Hickey and to students - Shane McCarthy, Conall O'Deasmhunaigh, Peter McDonald, Mark Moriarty, Jamie McMahon, Rory O'Donovan, David Dorgan and Gary Houston - on a very successful trip to Zambia during June . From all parents, students and teachers in C.B.C.
This was the third phase of the C.B.C. Zambia Immersion Project which involved teachers and students from C.B.C. spending time in Zambia working on projects with the Christian Brothers. The College and the Brothers in Zambia remain grateful to all in C.B.C. and in the wider Cork community for the much needed funds which are made available through the many fund-raising endeavours of students and their parents. These funds are used to support and develop projects on the ground in Zambia run by the Christian Brothers.