About Gonzaga Overseas aid
The parents of Gonzaga schoolboys and the past pupils of Gonzaga have been going to Zambia for more than ten years. Together we have raised hundreds of thousands of euro and built hundreds of houses alongside local people. We have also provided wells and clean water, supported schools, founded libraries, founded a micro-finance project and set up computer labs in schools. We have provided teacher-training, literacy skills and lessons in basic computer skills.
In the first two weeks of August 2019, another small team of volunteers are travelling to Zambia to continue the work of previous years. Gonzaga fifth year students, parents, teachers and past-pupils have been going to Zambia for more than ten years now. There is a lot to celebrate and to be thankful for, and there is still much more to do. We are seeking volunteers to come to Zambia. In collaboration with the local schools, we are hoping to carry out more teacher-training to make better use of the books and resources already out there, and we will be working further on the micro-finance initiative which will include training on financial literacy and basic business skills for our entrepreneurs. We also want to expand our work with the computer labs and the existing container libraries. We will make use of whatever skills you can bring with you. You can make a real contribution, if you come with us. See more information about the expedition here, and the 2018 report here.
If you would like to volunteer for this expedition, or for more information please contact Michael Nugent at tel. 4974888 or 083 4313037 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE 2013 EXPEDITION
In July 2013 another small group of past pupils and parents, went to work on the Habitat for Humanity Global Village Programme with the Orphans and Vulnerable Children of Zambia. The group went back to Chipulukusu on the outskirts of Ndola, a small city in Zambia’s Copperbelt region, 320 kilometres north of Lusaka where 68,000 souls live in poverty and rampant disease and with no access to running water or a sewage system.
The Orphans and Vulnerable Children programme supports the very most disadvantaged family groups, where orphans are being cared for by people who are themselves beyond destitution. The carers are usually grandparents of the orphans concerned, who are trying to cope with the loss of their own children and struggling with age, ill health and poverty.
This year, there were six people in the team and together we raised over €57,000.00 before we left Ireland. We managed to physically construct two houses while in Zambia but of course the money which we raised will help to build dozens more houses over the following months, as well as providing a new source of clean water to the community.
The situation of one of the families for whom we built is typical. One of the houses was built for a 55 year old widow named Febby who looks after three of her children and four of her orphaned grandchildren, all between 3 and 18 years old. She had seven children but only three are still alive. Febby has work as a house maid, and so she can feed her family, but it is difficult. The fact that several members of the family suffer with malaria adds to Febby’s worries and until we arrived she was living in a decaying mud brick house with a roof made of pieces of plastic and iron sheets, which was in constant danger of collapse. The house which we built for Febby will give her and her family greater security and at least they will now be able to stay dry when the rainy season begins.
In addition to the work on houses, we also supported a local school, the Graceland School, which was established 9 years ago in memory of a Zambian nun, Sister Grace Inambo, who trained in Ireland but died very soon after she returned home to Zambia. Thanks to the generosity of friends and supporters, we managed to bring out eight laptop computers, two microscopes, two telescopes, assorted laboratory equipment, pencils, copy books, mathematics sets and about 170kg of books. The impact on the school and on the pupils of so much teaching material will be profound. The long term effect of producing more educated people out of one of the most deprived places in Zambia (and in the world) will be interesting to see.
Overall, the team members from Gonzaga Overseas Aid had the rare privilege to work in Zambia with the poorest of the poor and to see and learn a different side of our planet.
The teachers at Graceland School trying out the laptop computers, with shelves of donated books in the background.
Febby Lufungulo with her son James and her granddaughters Mapalo and Febby outside her collapsing house. They now have a new Habitat for Humanity built house.
The 2012 visit
In August 2012 another small group of volunteers, past pupils and parents went to work on the Habitat for Humanity Global Village Programme with the Orphans and Vulnerable Children of Zambia. The group went to Chipulukusu, a vast unplanned sprawl of a township of 68,000 people, without proper roads, sewage or water supply, just outside Ndola almost on the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Whereas the depth of poverty and illness was appalling, the people of Chipulukusu were kind and welcoming and the overall atmosphere was peaceful. The team lived in the local houses and shared the lives of the local people and primarily worked by day on providing houses and latrines for two specific families. They also provided enough money (donated by friends and supporters in Ireland) to build many more houses in the months ahead while the team are safely back in Ireland.
The families for whom houses were provided were in the very abyss of deprivation. One lady, Lister Kamwendo, is a 74 year old widow. She had five children, but all of them have died. She also had an indeterminate number of grandchildren but most of them have also died. She has two grandchildren left and the three of them lived in one remaining room of a collapsed mud house where they huddled together on the floor for warmth, not even having a blanket between the three of them. Lister is ill and crippled and can only barely stand with the aid of a crutch. She has no income and the two children do not go to school. Despite their situation, they were patient, kind and dignified. Over the course of two weeks we provided them with a concrete-block walled and corrugated-iron roofed house which they now call home.
The team members from Gonzaga Overseas Aid had the rare privilege to work in Zambia with the poorest of the poor and to see and learn a different side of our planet. Aside from the work, there was plenty of opportunity to mix in a wonderful, Christian, welcoming and exciting land.
Perhaps some indication of our growing credibility in Zambia is that we have received a promise of another 60 house plots in Chipulukusu for Habitat for Humanity Zambia, and the challenge now is to see if we can raise the teams to build them.
Over the past nine years, Gonzaga College has partnered with Habitat for Humanity Ireland, to bring fifth year pupils out to Zambia to work directly with the people of Zambia. This has been a very successful and rewarding programme. In 2008, the college also brought a group of teachers, past pupils and parents to Zambia and this has led to the establishment of the Gonzaga Overseas Aid project. It is the aim of Gonzaga Overseas Aid to facilitate teachers, past pupils and parents of the Gonzaga Community to participate directly and personally in rendering assistance to our brothers and sisters in the developing world.
The work in which our volunteers engage while in Zambia is for the most part participation in unskilled labouring and house building work for widows and orphans afflicted by the Aids virus, while living in basic accommodation in the communities we serve. The work and living conditions are arduous, but the experience is very rewarding and has often been described as life-changing.
Gonzaga has made, and is continuing to make, a significant difference to the lives of our less fortunate brothers and sisters in Zambia. Help us to continue the work.
For further information please contact:
Michael Nugent at tel. 4974888 or email