Saturday February 21
And that’s a wrap! What an incredible journey it has been for all involved. There’s been laughter, tears, joy, sadness…. and most of all a huge sense of inspiration in uniting together for a common and important purpose, whilst making friends for life in the process. A huge thanks to everyone involved – and particular special thanks to Orlaith Donnelly and Harry Remidianakis for being instrumental in compiling this blog.
Roll on Lesotho 2021!!!
Wednesday February 18
If you told any of the students 1 or 2 years ago that they would be meeting a King and a Queen of an nation, I don’t think they’d believe you, and that’s exactly what happened today at the opening of Ha Hlalele Early Learning Centre grand opening.
After constant practises every Friday fortnight with Andrea in build-up and anticipation to this event, we sat down in the tent and listened to King Letsie III and other major Basotho figures deliver inspiring speeches, we exchanged culture with the students as they showed us traditional dances and we performed our very own Waka Waka for them.
The heroes of this huge event were the construction team as they got a full playground built in the centre in less than a day!
Everyone is so proud to be involved in such an important cause, as the UNICEF representative said, education from ages zero to 5 are vital for kids growing up to be doctors, teachers or whatever they aspire to be.
We all were choking up today for both sadness and joy as it was our last day in the schools, phone numbers and pictures were exchanged and future visit plans were discussed as we all said goodbye to the kids and teachers we have grown to love over the past week, We were treated to goodbye concerts in our schools which were fun and amazing as per usual with the talented kids! After we finished all of our projects and reminisced on what a great week and a half it was for all of us.
Could Brian O’Shaugnessy be out of a job?
‘Today was the team’s last day at Seboka Primary School. As a goodbye gift, we gave every kid a balloon, and they had so much fun, blowing them up and cheering with delight. With a background noise of air coming out of balloons, Isabel and Rebecca painted two beautiful murals on the wall and added the team’s names and handprints by way of reminder of how much we valued our time there. Finally, the whole school gathered to show us some of their Basotho cultural songs and dances, which were so much fun to watch.
Our time in Seboka Prinary School was extremely precious and none of us will ever forget it.’
Sunday 16 February
‘This afternoon was very special as the children from Cheshire Home were invited over to the hotel for a party. The bakkies and vans travelled up to the home, and all the children and the wheel chairs were brought down. Sister Regina told us that they had been so excited all day, and had dressed up in all their best clothes. They all looked gorgeous and very fashionable. On arrival to the hotel forecourt the children were greeted with beeping from all the vans, loads of welcome cheers and the students formed a guard of honour handing out balloons and hugs and high fives. Then, all the students spent an hour or so chatting to the children, blowing balloons and generally having lots of fun! After a tea of chicken and chips, some of the Cheshire Home children did a little show, singing a song with ukuleles that they had been taught that very week by the students. This was greeted with rapturous applause and a few tears- as this showed some of the potential of what they could do. Then the students then did their own show which included some Irish dancing and of course the Waka Waka.’
‘After a week of hard work with the various projects and schools we were excited and we were anticipating what the Kingdom in the Sky had to offer us for our weekend and we were not disappointed in the slightest.
It was another early start for us as we embarked on our hour long journey to Morija where we had great fun in the workshops. We first made a song using traditional African instruments (We all agree that Sharcher’s song was the best) After we did weaving and jewellery making, It was great fun and we all gained new skills and experiences.
The workshop was right by the mountain in which we hiked up, for some it was easy and for others it was difficult but we can all agree that we saw astonishing views and dinosaur footprints that our inner 7 year old loved!
We loved our day and we are grateful for everyone who organized it, tomorrow we are at it again with a hike in Thaba Bosiu’
by Harry Remidianakis
‘Today (Sunday) we got up at 9 o’clock which was a great lie in for us. We had breakfast then headed out to Thaba Bosiu mountain. We hiked up to the top and got some history about the mountain and the 3 kings that are buried there. We then headed out to lunch at the ShoeShoe restaurant, before returning back to the hotel. We had a small break then prepared for the arrival of the Cheshire Home (for the disabled) children. When they arrived we welcomed them with a guard of honour. The kids then enjoyed a meal and then we performed some dances for them. They all then went home and we all really enjoyed our day’
By Reece Kilbride
Some pictures from the Lithabanena Primary Team: Eduardo Ganaza, Eoin Kelly, Alex McGahan, Mia Lee, Ellie Gregan, Niamh Costello
Some pictures from the Lequele Primary School/St. Angela’s Cheshire Home team: Viddah Santiago, Shanai Solbrig, Sadbh Loughran, Kate Hogan, Molly Johnson, Sarah Bergin
‘It is both humbling and enlightening to be on this trip where everyone gives their time so freely to each other and puts their own daily lives on hold . The experience is amazing, meeting children and young adults with very little who are just delighted with our presence. The smiles come from everywhere as we move through the schools , whether it’s because of a game we played , a dance we had, something we helped them make or just by providing the opportunity to experience new things like learning to play a new instrument and realising they can do it . There is so much else achieved during our short stay here through new and improved school facilities and programmes that will help transform the lives and dreams of so many.
It is a privilege to be here on this journey.’
by Elaine Collins
‘Our groups experience here in Lesotho has been quite unique compared to the rest of the groups as we visit St. Angela’s Cheshire Home after visiting Lequele Primary School. We teach 30 students tin whistle every morning in Lequele and they have improved faster than we expected. We also perform with ukuleles and a violin, along with singing and dancing for all the kids. This helped them grow closer to us, and they actually remembered all of our names today.
Today, we did arts and crafts with the kids, as it’s Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day is a big day in Lesotho, they all really enjoy the day and love having Valentine’s and receiving cards. Kids were handing us cards and letters they made themselves regardless of being taught by us or not. They were just so happy that we were there to teach them and really liked having fun with us. After school we also donated clothes to the Cheshire Home today as well as some football jerseys and a few dresses. They were so thrilled to get the clothes, and we were so happy to be able to give something to them’
Great fun playing soccer against the FIFA academy Lesothan boys – and a brilliant score from Harry!
‘Today we started off our day by swimming, it was our last day with the first group. They were amazing. We had a lot of nervous swimmers at the start and they really pushed themselves. They were swimming on their fronts and backs and kicking their legs. One of the boys was so nervous at the start of the week it was hard to keep him in the water and put his face down but we got his confidence up to be able to swim really well without armbands.
‘After swimming we headed to Seboka where we spent the day making Valentine’s Day cards with the students. We first went to both grade 3’s and then went to both grade 5’s. All the classes really enjoyed it and they were all covered in stickers and glitter! We then spent some time with the students outside dancing and talking to them. Isabel and Lea even spent some time sweeping with the schools cool straw brushes!’
By Swim team and Seboka School Van, Isabel Grogan, Emily McCartney, Rebecca Whelan, Reece Kilbride, Ailbhe Crean-Lynch, Lea Power Karyn Murphy, Katherine Morrow.
‘This school group were only with us for 3 days. On the first day they were all decked out in 2 pairs of armbands and multiple floats. To my absolute amazement by Day 3 many of them were swimming like fishes and looking so confident. It was a joy to watch. When it was time to leave, they told us how much the experience had meant to them. Their teacher told us that they have so little in life, and this experience was a gift. This is exactly why we are here, and I’m so honoured to be a part of it.’
Katherine Morrow, Adult Supervisor
‘We started off in the reception class with all 8 of us working with shapes and then made shape monsters. Judith left to do Jolly Phonics and we did some songs and dances with them. We then went to watch the end of Judith’s English lesson. At lunch we played Gaelic and did skipping with the kids and they showed us some magic tricks. After lunch we did a PE class with grade 1 where we did songs, dances, rugby and skipping. They all loved it. When the kids left we finished painting blue in the grade 1’s room and moved onto drawing murals in the new library. We have many different cartoon characters such as Olaf, Micky and Minnie Mouse, Spongebob and Pikachu.’
by Makoanyane Primary School Group: Millie Bogel, Rebecca Keegan, Shane Archer, Alex Dunne, Ciara Whyte, Orlaith McGarry
‘Our group started today by going into Grade 4, who are around 8 years old. We decided to centre today around Music, such as Irish Traditional Music. Sarah Myers demonstrated and taught the students a simple Irish dancing step, which they all really enjoyed. We also played some songs, with Sarah C Kennedy on Tin Whistle and Orlaith Donnelly on Bodhrán. After we played some rhythm games, like having half the class stomp and half clap, which was really fun. We also did some songs, such as the Macarena, and the ever favourite Aroo Cha Cha, which always gets the class’s attention and gets them involved. After the kids went home we stayed and started painting with Judith’s group in the new Nursery Room and the new Library.’
by Makoanyane Primary School Group 2: Sarah Myers, Ellen Herssens, Sarah C Kennedy, Órlaith Donnelly, Sarah M Kennedy, Maddy Kush
” The Lithabanena High School group embarked on out journey up the mountain to the School, we met up with the teacher’s and organised some classes for us to oversee. We started by meeting the teacher and visiting their classroom, we were amazed at how hardworking they were, there was roughly 40 or so students in the class and the whole class would put up their hands for the question, regardless if they knew it or not, afterwards we went to a class who had no teacher and we discussed Lesotho and Ireland and answered questions. It was high in the mountains so we had a nice breeze while we were chatting to the other students.
After we went to the Ha Hlalele school we were greeted with loads of kids looking for hugs and high fives, after we said hi to the wonderful kids we started to work on our painting, students, teachers and even Ha Hlalele teachers helped out while listening to some music, we had an amazing day today and there’s more to come!”
by Harry Remadianakis
Don’t forget to check out the Action Ireland Trust and Portmarnock Community School Official Facebook page for lots more photos and updates 🙂
Monday 10th February
‘Today was a big day. We were all very nervous when we left for the welcome ceremony at Lithabaneng as we were performing in front of 1,500 people. When we saw the children lining the streets waving Irish flags and singing and dancing, we were overwhelmed. It was an amazing welcome. All the kids were hugging us and blowing us kisses. They performed an amazing hula dance for us. We all sang our national anthems and then we performed our dance. It was great. We were filmed by local television and we were interviewed by a local radio station. We then introduced ourselves to 1,500 students, played Irish music and sang for them. The children said thank you for coming. It was a wonderful day.’
by Caitlin, Sean, Harry Collier, Aisling, Lauren, Katie-Rose, Sophie, Harry Byrne, Mia, Ellie, Eoin Kelly, Eduardo, Alex McGann
We had an early start after a long day of travelling. We got ready in our black and white clothes and departed for 8 am mass. The mass was brilliant, we heard loads of songs and the atmosphere was amazing. Towards the end we sang a song and 8 of us got up at the front and did dance moves to the song.
After mass we went outside and got pictures with the local people and got back into the vans and went to Cheshire homes. When we got to Cheshire homes, the kids were waiting for us outside and gave us a round of applause, we sang songs to them and sang some to us, then we did our two dances for them and all the girls got up and did the dance that we put together. Everyone was lovely.
We then left to go to back to the hotel for a meeting with the teachers from each school and we also sang singing in the rain with them. We were then allowed to go up and get changed for the pool.
We spent around an hour at the pool having lots of fun and we then went up to get changed to go to the shopping centre.
At the shopping centre we had lunch and bought some stuff in the shopping centre, we then headed back to the hotel where we had 2 hours to do what we wanted to some people went back to the pool and some people had a nap or a shower. We then had a meeting at 7 and dinner after it. For the rest of the night before going to bed we played games in the games room and danced.’
by Isabel Grogan
‘We were all up bright and early for 6:00 this morning as we went to one of the local parishes for mass. We were all blown away with the local kids musical talent. Afterwards we went to St.Angela Home for the disabled and had a good sing and dance with the kids there.
After returning to the Avani Hotel we gathered in our education groups and met up with the teachers from our school sharing plans and ideas.After a great craic in the pool we chilled out with a few games of table tennis to finish of the night.’
by Eoin Kelly
‘The mass was amazing. The whole community was there, people walking for miles every Sunday to come to church. The music was incredible, it sounded amazing. Everyone was so in sync, dancing together while they sang. A few of us tried to join in towards the end which I think they found funny, and all the kids gave us high fives and asked to take pictures with us after.
After that we went to the Cheshire Home. Seeing the kids, some of whom without the home wouldn’t have survived, was so overwhelming. They sang us a lovely song about family, and we sang a few songs and danced for a bit. The kids loved it and it was great to make them so happy.’
by Orlaith Donnelly
The Epic Journey from Dublin to the Kingdom in the Sky
‘We arrived at the airport early and all checked in our suitcases and went through security. Ciara got stopped by security for having a stapler, which made everyone laugh and Harry got stopped for having a laminator in his suitcase . We arrived at Gatwick and had a 6 hour break until our next flight to Johannesburg. We arrived at the airport and then started our 6 hour drive to Lesotho. We finally arrived to our hotel and went to sleep after a very long day.’
by Emily McCartney
Saturday 8 February Quick Update!!!
We have all safely arrived Maseru Avani Hotel at 8.40pm after an epic journey in perfect convoy! Everyone on great form and lots of singing and laughing en route. Time for a bite to eat before collapsing into bed.Lots of photos and stories to be posted in the coming days – keep tuned in 🙂
We wish all of our volunteers a safe journey to Lesotho on Friday 14th February. Action Ireland, Community Volunteers and our Ty students are embarking on a journey that will change their and others lives. To keep up with their experiences a blog full of images, students’ vooices and video will be posted here daily.