Brendan and Annemarie – The Irish Volunteer Journal

“Mwandi” I haven’t enquired as to what the word actually means but it is a beautiful place by the mighty Zambezi River. After traveling across South Africa, coming to stay in Zambia and particularly Mwandi really felt like we’d arrived in real Africa. Both Annemarie and I agree that we’ve had an amazing experience.

We heard about Mwandi from a work colleague who visited in 2004, and when we contacted Fiona we got such a positive reaction we wanted to come. Another major factor was the fact we had total visibility as to where all our fundraising was going to be spent.

It’s at this stage where I’d like to thank the local communities of Cootehill, Bailebrough and Ballyconnell and all our friends’ family and work colleagues who supported us so generously. From All at the Mwandi OVC and Annemarie and I, Thank You All so much!!!!!!

Your contributions purchased a new computer, 2 new sewing machines and majority went to Feeding Program, as this is the greatest need.

Driving out to the village from Livingstone we got a glimpse of what might be in store for us in Mwandi. All along the road there were little communities consisting of Mud Huts, and little children running around in what can only be described in western terms as rags. So we are preparing to deal with having to fetch water every day and use a long drop toilet. When we arrived and seen that we would be staying in a house with flushing toilets and we had a clean water supply at the project we were amazed. There is quite a large mission here in Mwandi so a lot a work has been done to accommodate international volunteers and make their stay a more comfortable one.

From the very first few minutes we arrived we helped out on the feeding program, we were a bit nervous but it was a good introduction to the project and the kids.

We got an advanced notice of what we were going to be doing at the project and we can say now that both our skills were but to good use. Annemarie’s main task was working the special needs kids. Giving them some One to One time each day, helping with speech, toileting etc. There are currently 6 kids with special needs attending the project and all with very different disabilities. Everyone a little gem, forever smiling and laughing.

My main task was to help with the computers and help train some of the staff to use the computers more effectively. With the Zambian climate being so dry and hot it’s not the best environment for computers, so there was plenty of ongoing maintenance and troubleshooting to be carried out.

We both did a lot of painting, and while Annemarie had a monster task sorting out a container full of great stuff donated from Australia – she almost finished it. I got stuck into a bit of welding and DIY.

In the evenings we both tried our hand at teaching. Giving English and Maths Tuition to small groups of children and Fridays I gave a class on computer skills to the staff at the Mwandi Basic School.

The most important thing on the project of course are the children so we did try to spend at much time as we could just playing and talking with them. And we have so many wonderful memories.

It’s simply a wonderful project and to get to experience it in action we certainly feel privileged. We are already talking about when we can come back. This is a place and experience I would recommend to anyone interested in Volunteering their time to help those in need.

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