Follow the journey of the Action Ireland Trust and Portmarnock Community School students in Lesotho.
Our Facebook entries on the trip are here.
A blog can be viewed below:
Lesotho 2022 Blog –Van 4 – Millie, Amy, Lucy, Naomi
Friday 1st We arrived at Dublin Airport at 11am ready to start our journey, and we were all so excited! Our first flight was from Dublin to Doha, and we were all so impressed with the size of Doha Airport – there were even trains running through the terminal!
We then flew from Doha on to Johannesburg. All the students, adult volunteers and teachers were sitting together on the flights and there was lots of chatting and a little bit of sleeping done!
When we arrived in Johannesburg we had a long drive in our convoy of vans to Maseru. Along the way we encountered a huge electrical storm which was incredible to see. We made a few stops along the way, and of course there was plenty of singing in the vans! We finally made it across the border into Lesotho and even though it was a long journey, the atmosphere among all of us was amazing throughout the 36 hours of travel.
When we arrived at the Avani Hotel we were greeted warmly and headed straight into the restaurant for a lovely dinner. We paid a visit to the games room which was great fun and we started up some competitions. Everyone was exhausted but so happy to be there and we all headed up to bed excited for what was to come!
Sunday 3rd On Sunday we were invited to mass with the Archbishop. We woke up early (6.45am!), had breakfast and headed off to St. Felix Church which is set in the middle of a small community. We were warmly welcomed by the congregation who followed our convoy of 11 vans with teachers, students and volunteers, into the church car park. As soon as we got out of the vans it all became real that we had finally arrived – and we were all so excited to be there! We practised our national anthem, which wasn’t exquisite – but we kept practising until it was presentable!
We arrived a little bit early for mass, which gave us time to talk to everyone there before we entered the church. The mass was said by the Archbishop of Lesotho which was a magical experience. The music and singing from the choir was outstanding and blew us all away! Prayers and readings were done by the members of the congregation and then it was our turn to perform our National Anthem, which the congregation seemed to enjoy – although we were no match for the choir!
After mass, we had some time to chat to members of the community and the children who had gathered outside the church to greet us. We took lots of photos with the children and with the Archbishop. It was a fantastic morning.
Monday 4th On Monday morning we all headed to Leqele Primary School where a welcome ceremony was taking place with students from all 5 Hub Schools that we would be working with. We had great fun greeting the students at the entrance to the school, taking photos and selfies with them, and listening while they sang songs. We then headed up to a marquee that had been set up for us to sit in while the Principal and other members of the teaching staff gave welcome speeches, and the students performed songs and dances that they had prepared for us and even a gymnastics display – it was incredible to see!
After the students from the school had performed for us – it was our turn! We performed our Waka Waka dance and sang our National Anthem for them.
Once the ceremony was over, all our volunteers and students headed off to their respective schools and projects to start work for them. As our group is based at Leqele – we stayed there and had introductions to all the teachers and some of the classes. It was great to visit some of the classrooms and start meeting the students, and we even sang a song or two with them!
Lesotho 2022 Blog – Group 2 – Ruby, Aine, Kate, George, Rowan, Nicole,
On Tuesday 5th April we travelled to Lithabaneng High School. Due to the terrain leading up to the High School, we had to park about 15 minutes away and walk up. We were warmly greeted by the students and we went to sit in on Biology and English lessons given by Ms Clynes & Ms Dargan. Rowan and George taught the students GAA and we all taught them some dancing which they really enjoyed. Once our lessons were finished for the day, we walked down to the Primary School to get stuck in with painting some of the buildings and classrooms.
Wednesday 6th April: We taught more Biology and English lessons and then we did a GAA lesson. After that, Ruby and Aine spoke to a class about Irish history and taught them some Irish words and phrases. After a small break, the entire school came out to the playing field to dance for us! We performed Waka Waka for them and they loved it. Kate and Nicole made friendship bracelets in the colours of the Lesotho flag. We finished off the day back at the Primary School and continued painting a mural on one of the classroom walls.
Phrases in Sesotho that we learned from Grade 10 students:
Lumela – which means Hello
Kealeboha – which means thank you
Lumelang bo’ me’ le bo ntate – which means good evening ladies & gentlemen
Van 6 – Jade, Kate, Alex N, Thomas, Emmet, Ellie & Karyn
Our group has been focussing on swimming lessons each morning and we then head up to Seboka Primary School each day for 11am.
The learners for our swimming lessons come from Leqele Primary School and range in age from 8-11 years old. Because Lesotho is a land- locked country, the students have no opportunity to learn how to swim, so having swimming lessons is an exciting experience for them. All the learners started off in armbands, and over the few days of lessons, we could see a huge improvement in all of them and how much they all loved being in the water. We taught them front crawl, back crawl, breast stroke and how to float in the water and relax!
On their last day of lessons, we brought the learners into the Hotel to show them around the lobby, restaurant and games room. For all of the learners – this was the first time they had been inside a Hotel, and they were blown away.
Throughout the week in Seboka Primary School, we have been working through our education programme with grades 1-7 (14 classes in total, approximately 800 learners!)
In particular we were very proud to deliver Emmet’s lesson plan which was CPR. It was amazing to watch the kids learn about this as they were very interested in this lesson. We then taught Kate & Jades lesson plan about how you can save someone’s life if they have a stroke using the FAST method.
We also taught the learners the names of countries, the locations of the countries on the world map, capital cities, and their greetings. The learners were really captivated by this lesson, particularly the capital cities and the greetings!
The team did jolly phonics with Grades 1&2 and we made bunny ear hats as an arts & crafts activity with Grade 3, which the learners loved so much they wore them going home that afternoon!
On Friday night, we had a Music Bingo Night which was great fun for us all! Kate and Jade won several rounds of Bingo, which made up for the disappointing loss on Quiz Night!!
After our Van won the most rounds of Bingo on Friday night, we headed to Morija on Saturday morning for a hike to see fossilised dinosaur footprints. It was a steep climb but the reward when we got to the top was a spectacular view! After the hike we visited Morija Guesthouse where we had the most amazing lunch, including some delicious vegetarian options. We were lucky enough to be allowed to have a look at some of the rooms in the guesthouse which were very vintage and unique, with lots of wood and bamboo. The Guesthouse was also home to the cutest Labrador called Nola!
The students then did a music and jewellery workshop. For the music workshop, each group recorded their own song in a studio, where it was produced by the people running the workshop. All the music was surprisingly really good and catchy considering we were improvising by creating instruments from items we could find outside.
In the jewellery workshop, we each designed and made bracelets, beads and earrings which was really good fun and meant we all had a keepsake to remember the experience by.
Lesotho Blog 2022 – Van 7 – Niamh, Aaron, Daniel, Chloe, Anna, Alex
Thursday 7 th
Aaron: Our group is based in Lithabaneng Primary School. When we arrived we were greeted by the kind students. During the day in the school we did an arts camp, crafts, football and rugby.
Daniel: We taught the students about our solar system. We asked them questions such as; how many planets are in our solar system, and if other planets have more than one moon.
Alex: After lunch, all the lads went out with all the boys from Grade 7. We split the kids up into 2 groups of 50. Daniel and Alex did simple football drills with cones. Meanwhile Paddy and Aaron did some kicking with rugby balls. We had split the group into 4 and played two football matches.
Anna: This morning, my lesson plan about space was worked on. The plan was to teach all the learners about the planets and our solar system. We were working with sixth graders. When we began our lesson, we were impressed to find they knew a lot already, so we got them to tell us what they knew and thought about how the sun was important.
After lunch, Niamh, Chloe and Anna, with the help of some of the teachers, ran our lesson with the 7 th Grade girls in correlation with our project Saor. We taught them about the biological side of their periods and gave them the chance to ask questions about periods. The teachers were really helpful and we learned so much from them and the students. 4 of the girls are going to help us to continue our project after we leave, by testing out the menstrual cups and giving us their feedback. We ended the day finishing off the murals inside the classrooms along with Ruby, George, Aine, Ms. Clynes & Sharon.
Chloe: Today we continued classes outside with Grade 6, teaching them about outer space and creating planets with arts & crafts. With the year 7 girls, Anna, Niamh and myself started our project Saor. Over in Lesotho by educating the girls on their periods and menstrual cycles. This class went really well with the help of the teachers and learners in Lithabaneng Primary School. We ended the day by helping the athletics team in the school and talking to the teachers involved with the preparation for the nationals the team is competing in tomorrow.
Kate and Cara were so kind to give up their time and group to come to our school and spend an hour teaching the athletics team techniques to improve their skills for their big race tomorrow.
Niamh: This morning we did one of Anna’s lesson plans which revolved around our solar system. We asked all the learners some basic questions to see how much they knew. We did this with the 6th and 7th Graders. We gave out paper plates, colours and stickers so the learners could create their own planets. This brought us up to lunch time. Anna, Chloe and myself then introduced our project – Saor to the 7th Grade girls. We educated them about periods and the biology behind them. The female teachers were there to translate when needed. We then had them ask us questions, which we got to answer. We all learned something in that lesson. We then met the 4 girls who were chosen to sample the menstrual cups we plan to give to the girls. We will be getting their feedback to help us to continue our project when we return home. We then danced with the girls to lots of songs before it was time for them to go home. I ended the day helping the athletics team prepare for the Nationals race they are running in tomorrow while talking to the teachers and learning more about Lesotho. We taught 300 learners overall today.
Lesotho Blog 2022 – Van 5 – William, Abbie, Declan, Rachel, Cara, Kate
Kate: On Wednesday, myself and Cara travelled to Lithabaneng primary school to coach the athletics team who were competing in the nationals on the 8th April. The teachers of the primary school wanted to use our knowledge and athletics experience to teach the students the proper techniques such as how to warm up and cool down correctly. They picked up everything we showed them really quickly. We demonstrated how to do the starting position correctly, which really helped them. It seemed like they really enjoyed the session and myself and Cara were delighted that they benefited from it.
Abbie: On Wednesday night we had a Karaoke night. Each Van team got up and performed a song and there were also some solo acts! It was great fun. Shout out to Van 5 for an outstanding performance of Party in the USA! Great moves my Dazzle D, AKA Miley Cyrus!
Cara: On Thursday we played a match against the Kick 4 Life team. As expected, we lost, but surprisingly not by too much! A special mention to ‘Deccers’ Buckley for a spectacular goalie performance! After the match, we went into their clubhouse restaurant to have some food and chats with the players on their team. We went back outside after dinner and did some dancing, played more football and even did a bit of GAA which they loved.
William: Due to the week of work we put in at Makoanyane, the Principal treated us all to abarbecue on Friday! It was quite ‘corny’ however! Overall though, it was great. Even the process of cooking the corn was good fun. We peeled off the outer green layer and removed the hair from it. The corn emitted a lovely smell when cooked and looked brilliant! After this the corn was all gobbled up and it tasted amazing – I was left wanting more! The corn turned out to be a great meal and it felt well-earned. I hope you enjoy this blog entry!
Declan: Today we had an early start and made our way to Makoanyane . We split up into three groups. Declan, William and Daire made bookmarks with sixth Graders which they loved. Then we went to make book covers with the 7th Graders which was lots of fun. Cara, Rachel and Kate did tin whistle class, and then we all met up and took the 6th Graders to do GAA football which was great fun and the learners loved it. Abbie and Holly were doing painting by numbers with Grade 1 and then went to the computer room to finish off their murals. Judith did Jolly Phonics and grammar with the other grades. After lunch, all the teams met up in Seboka primary school to help prepare the new toilet blocks for the official opening next week. We were painting, cleaning, doing murals and preparing flower beds for planting.
Rachel: Today in Makoanyane our group split up to make friendship bracelets, do colouring, make book marks and teach the tin whistle. Our original plan was to teach the tin whistle to 4th and 5th grade, but we walked into the wrong classroom (for the second time!) so we ended up having to bring them all out for a spontaneous lesson on Gaelic Football! They picked it up very fast and it was a really fun lesson.
Lesotho Blog 2022 – Van 3: Lauren, Xsara, Ella, Katie, Elaine & Fran
Katie: We had so much fun this week in Leqele Primary School! Every morning when we drive in we are greeted with smiles, hugs, waves and letters that the learners have written to us!
Throughout the week we have been doing lots of classes with all grades including making friendship bracelets. The learners all loved this activity and they all helped each other which was really nice to see.
We also brought most of the grades out for either basketball or multi sport lessons during the week. All the learners loved to score and when they were playing against each other, everybody cheered no matter which team they were on. We took turns going into the Reception (pre-school) class because we all wanted to go every day. We danced with the Reception boys and girls; taught them shapes and colours using play-doh; and blew bubbles with them. It was a really fun week and we all absolutely loved every learner and every moment of our classes.
Xsara: We had the best week in Leqele Primary School. We had so much fun with all the learners, and even though we’ve been teaching them new things, they have also been teaching us things like handshakes, dances and songs.
We have been teaching the Walls of Limerick,(Ballaí Luimnigh), an Irish dance, to all grades, which they have picked up really quickly and thoroughly enjoyed. Even though it sometimes didn’t go as planned, we learned to improvise and had a lot of fun while learning.
I have been teaching the tin whistle in my classes. All the learners want to get involved and try their very hardest to play the songs. They have progressed really well and almost know two songs off by heart (Mary had a Little Lamb, and Twinkle Twinkle)!
Elaine has been doing a sustainable water play activity with Grade 3 where they put strips of crepe paper into recycled bottles of water, which changes the colour of the water. The learners can’t believe their eyes and think it’s magic! We are using the colourful water bottles to make surrounds on the flower beds at the school. These look really cool with all the bright colours.
It’s so lovely to see all the learners’ faces and how happy they are when we are working, having fun and dancing together. It’s been the best week of my life.
Lauren: On Saturday evening after we got back from the mall, we all went out to dinner at Peri Peri where we got different types of food and huge slices of cake. We tried the salad, and the waiter brought dressing which we thought would be nice but it turned out to be so spicy that we all had tears running down our faces from the heat! The restaurant had a wall where you could sign your name, which looked really cool, so we all wrote our names on the wall. After eating, we played games like ‘Snap’ and ‘What are the Odds’. Later on we went down to the games room where there were table tennis and pool tournaments going on.
On Sunday morning we were allowed a lie in until 8.30am which was a miracle for all of us!
Then we got in the cars to head to Thaba Bosiu. Since it was raining, we couldn’t go on the hike we had originally planned, but instead we had a lovely lunch in the cultural village and then went to the Amphitheatre where we sang and danced!
Ella: From Thaba Bosiu, we headed to St. Angelas Cheshire Home. The drive there wasn’t straightforward as it had been raining all day, so some sections of the road were flooded. However Fran, our number one driver, got us through!
We received a very warm welcome when we arrived and it made us all a bit emotional. We performed our Waka Waka, Macarena and Saturday Night dances for the residents and it was great fun. The children danced along with us as much as they could which put a big smile on my face. After we danced for them, they sang a beautiful song for us, and then three beautiful girls got up and danced for us to Jerusalema. We really enjoyed the performance because they really enjoyed it and were excellent dancers. After all the dancing and singing, we got to chat with all the residents of St. Angelas and we had a little party with them. We gave out balloons, glow sticks, stickers and friendship bracelets that Xsara, Katie, Lauren and I had been making over the last couple of days for them. Although we would have loved to have had more time with them, everyone had great fun and really loved the gifts we brought for them. Overall the trip to St. Angelas was a really nice, fun and of course very emotional afternoon.