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Clare to Kabwe making a life saving difference in Africa

A group of 14 volunteers from West Clare are set to travel to Zambia next week to volunteer their skills with school projects there. Clare to Kabwe supports projects in the town of Kabwe, Zambia and volunteers from West Clare travel there every year linking up with the Irish Zambia Aid Project, Zamda Ireland.
Ahead of travelling to Zambia, their aim has been to raise €20,000 to build a special needs classroom and first aid room for the Zamda Ireland run school.
Zamda Ireland is a registered charity which was established in 2004 by Padraig O’ Fainin and his wife, and runs a centre called Sables Nua for the most vulnerable children in Kabwe. A refuge of happiness and hope, it offers food, clothing, medical care, emergency overnight accommodation, counselling, education and vocational training for over 300 orphaned and vulnerable children.
Many of the children come from the street of Kabwe and Lusaka; they have lost their parents to HIV/AIDS, been rejected by their families and forced onto the street to beg, steal or prostitute themselves in an effort to stay alive.
Other orphaned children come from the slums of Makalul and Katongo usually sent by their grandparents who cannot afford to provide food, clothing or education for them. Kabwe is also reputed to be the most polluted town in Africa from the effects of local mining which have resulted in many children having learning and serious health issues.
Volunteer, Ger Troy explained about the Clare to Kabwe charity. Their upcoming visit to the country visit will be Ger’s second time travelling to Kabwe. Previously, he had gone there in 2019 with West Clare Judo Club to do judo classes for the children there. He said he has seen a lot of poverty through previous work he did with the Irish Army but nothing prepared him for this.
He described Sables Nua as “a mixture of a drop-in centre for children, a playground for kids and a school for street kids who are the poorest of the poor”. Sables Nua has over 300 children at pre-school and primary school level, and around 80 at secondary school.
“HIV/AIDS is a big disease there and many of the children have no parents or are being minded by extended family. This year, the first students who started with primary school at Sables Nua have have now grown up and graduated from secondary school, and some of them are even about to start third-level education,” he said.
“It’s a thing many of us consider doing, but an experience only a few undertake. To say that visiting Sables Nua is unforgettable is an understatement. West Clare can be proud of its generosity to those less fortunate, it is a lot to ask from a relatively disadvantaged rural area to support vulnerable children in far of Zambia, but there has been nothing but good wishes backed by donations to date,” Mr Troy said.
The project aims to give volunteers a holistic and rounded experience by exploring the local culture and gaining a greater understanding of the challenges faced each day by the children they are there to help. A big part of volunteering abroad is getting involved with the people and many of the visitors have developed a strong emotional connection with Sables Nua.
The 14 volunteers will leave Dublin for Lusaka on June 22 and spend over a week in Zambia. The local volunteer group comprises a number of families from West Clare. Ger himself will travel with his wife, son and youngest daughter. This is his wife’s first trip, and last time his elder daughter accompanied him. The trip is called an immersion trip which aims to make them more aware of what is happening on the ground. Two young women who are studying to becoming schoolteachers will also be part of this year’s group.
Ger first got involved during 2020 when they decided to get practical donations and shipping help out in two shipping containers ahead of the Covid restrictions. For this trip, he plans to get involved with general maintenance of the school site and coaching the children in judo and volleyball which they adore.
The West Clare connection goes back to October 2018 when four members of West Clare Judo travelled to Zambia to volunteer with Judo Ireland in coaching the children at Sables Nua. The club members have since kept in close contact with the centre and in 2022, they invited the Sables Nua Judo Club to visit to compete in a judo tournament. And so in May 2023, 16 children travelled to Ireland to spend a few days in Clare and other locations around the country.
West Clare welcomed them with visits to Kilkee Fire Station, Scattery Island, K Fitt, Vandeleur Walled Gardens and Pure Camping. Such was the effect their visit had on the community of Kilkee with friendships formed, that plans were quickly made for a return Clare to Kabwe visit which is the one the 14 volunteers are about to embark on.
The West Clare Cycling Club recently got on board to support the charity in fundraising with four cyclists, Gary Kiely, Martin Culligan, John Moloney and Mike Davis setting off from Kilkee on June 1 on a one-day 400km circuit of Clare spending over 13 hours in the saddle. The cycling team have so far raised over €3,000 and with a Go Fund Me page now open, donations are still coming in. All funds raised for Clare to Kabwe will go directly towards the school and Zamda Ireland, and the West Clare team entirely self-fund the trip themselves.
“We have been blown away by the generosity of the people, and are confident with the funds raised the special needs classroom can been built,” Ger said.
To donate search for “Kabwe Fundraiser” on gofundme.com.

Sharon Dolan D'Arcy

Sharon Dolan D'Arcy is originally from Ennis. Her work as a print journalist has appeared in a number of regional publications. She worked as court reporter at The Sligo Weekender newspaper and is a former editor of The Athenry News and Views. She covers West Clare news.

About Sharon Dolan D'Arcy

Sharon Dolan D'Arcy is originally from Ennis. Her work as a print journalist has appeared in a number of regional publications. She worked as court reporter at The Sligo Weekender newspaper and is a former editor of The Athenry News and Views. She covers West Clare news.

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