Friday 7am Malealea Malealea, Lesotho
We are about to leave this beautiful part of Lesotho having spent yesterday here as the come down from the end of the projects. The lodge we are staying in is in the heart of fertile plain surrounded by mountains and hills. We had the most wonderful trek down to the water pool that felt like an explorers’ adventure to get to and the fun the kids had in the cavernous water pools.
End of tour singsong around a campfire brought to an end a remarkable trip for which for which the efforts and cohesion of the student group was to be commended.
Wednesday saw the end of the of 11 straight days working for the building teams which saw a remarkable output of permanent structures been left behind. Well done!!
A parent’s reflection on the week.
We have reached the final day if our journey to Lesotho. It has been an eye-opening adventure like no other. It is bizarre to think back to our first day and our visit to Mass and St Angela’s Cheshire Home. I have a sensation that I have travelled through time, not because Lesotho is less developed but because so much has been achieved in so short a time.
We were welcomed by a sea of smiles on our first day in Lesotho, now that sea of smiles feels like a warm hug from a loved one. Meeting over 200 children on my first day in Hlalele Primary School was intimidating but my sentiment was unjustified as I was welcomed by little faces asking, “What is your name?” I think I will be reciting my name in my sleep when I return home while simultaneously trying to remember the lyrical names of the children.
I will also try to remember the names of facial features, some of the children learned quickly that my attempts to learn Sesotho were fruitless, causing much hilarity when I tried to say words and repeatedly confusing my chin and my chest. Thankfully the PCS students took up the language with much greater skill and fluency, using it to start interactions with the children – and then using their newly acquired language skills to draw out some of the quieter children who were hesitant in engaging with us.
It was uplifting to watch these young men and women enjoying playing with the children and developing an understanding of the needs of the children in such a community. The willingness of our students to throw themselves into each day and the eagerness with which they did their work was unquantifiable. I said before that these young people are wonderful, they are more than wonderful, each one is a person with integrity, character, compassion, humility, kindness, grace, and loving.
Yes, the children are cute, funny, and entertaining but we were faced with the true extent of the poverty in the community and the country. The poverty is stark and quite brutal sometimes. Watching children run around without shoes because the soles have fallen off is not something easy to contemplate nor easily forgotten.
Many of the projects took the decision to purchase or provide uniforms for some of the school children. The PCS students would willingly toss their Rand or Maloti in the pot. Sometimes the need is so basic it is heart-stopping. On one occasion we were storing tins of paint in a school kitchen which provides a hot lunch for the children each day. I knew there was no electricity but seeing the enormous fireplaces and pots in a dark smoke-filled room was a strong reminder of how much more is needed. Fortunately, the electrical poles were being installed during our stay, so electricity is on the way.
I can only dream of the beneficial impact of electricity to the community…children not needing to collect firewood, electrical lights will allow children to do homework, read books, use the internet, etc. This will be truly revolutionary for the community.
When working with the teachers and children in the school the true extent of the poverty was impossible to ignore. Speaking with the teachers they explained the challenges in fundraising for the school. Following a meeting the school and parents agreed to hold non-uniform days every Wednesday. Each child pays one rand. This doesn’t appear to be much but some of the families cannot afford to pay it, so the teachers pay it out of their own pockets, alternatively the child attends school in uniform which is often in shreds.
The good news is that Action Ireland trust has provided uniforms for 60 children in the school and those in most need will receive new uniforms. Believe me, they will be joyous and incredibly grateful. Imagine a child in Ireland being delighted to receive a new uniform – it is not to say our children are ungrateful, this only highlights the level of poverty here in Lesotho.
However, the poverty does not appear to crush all the positives in life. The people here are warm, kind, welcoming, friendly and want to improve their society and country. Where the people are surrounded by poverty there is ceaseless beauty in the people and the country. There is a wealth of intellectual ability waiting to be nurtured, this is recognised by the education system where ‘Entrepreneurship’ is on the curriculum in Primary School.
The impact of the work being done here by Action Ireland Trust cannot be quantified. The Trust allows the people to choose to engage and participate in the decision-making. The motto ‘A Hand up, not a hand out’ is actively practiced at all times, and it reaps rewards. The extent of the projects is outstanding – from replacing the roof on one school, to supporting creche workers in developing management practices. So few people have achieved so much and the reach of this support will extend long beyond our departure date tomorrow.
There is a reciprocal to this, we will be changed people on our return home on Saturday. We have grown, we have seen different ways of living, we have been touched by the beauty of the people, the smiles of the children, the heart-stopping scenery, the joy, the incessant hand waving, and the utter love that has been poured into our hearts which will overflow forever.
Back again after another year. The garden is now getting ready for winter crops of cabbage and spinach.
The drip irrigation is working well and has helped reduce a lot of food for the garden. World vision has helped put up protective netting.
Last week after a long dry spell there was three days that hailstones fell. It was so bad that the netting and the cabbage crop under it was destroyed. This is a big loss but we are going to replant.
The bees are doing well and there are a couple of classes interested in looking after them now. So good progress all road.
The precision seeder arrived in the container and this will be a great help in vegetable production.
Final Day of School Projects
Where did those 10 days go?
It only seems like yesterday since we arrived and yet we know its a lifetime since we left Ireland. Time seems endless here. Long bright days, permanent smiles on children’s faces, fun to be had and work to be done. Friends made for life and experiences engraved as memories.
This is fairly unique that a parish school in Dublin can have such a far reach in helping the development of an African country whilst at the same time enriching the lives of those of us who travel.
Happy Valentines day to our loved ones back home.
The contributors to the blog today are all students sharing their experiences to date (videos will post tomorrow).
The best two weeks of my life are coming to an end. This morning was the last time we got to see the kids that have been so amazing throughout our time here. We went to Tar Road school to say goodbye and they had a small concert for us which included singing and dancing and we even joined in, but we weren’t as good as them.
I have never seen a child so happy getting a sweet before. That made me realise more how lucky we are. The teachers were so generous giving us souvenirs as we said goodbye. We were all crying saying goodbye, but every child still had that big smile that didn’t leave their faces since the day we got here.
Seeing the difference, we made on the school building was incredible as they didn’t have electricity and the paint was peeling off the walls before we arrived. Now all the classes look clean and colourful with lots of posters on the wall. Hlalele’s farewell concert for us really made us realise how welcomed we really were and how much they appreciate us coming.
My experience in Lesotho has been an amazing experience that has changed my outlook on life and our culture in Ireland. I was in Hlalele High School for the duration of my trip with de ladz. It was great doing many different sports with all the kids and getting to know them and about their life.
Thaba Bosiu was beautiful, we stayed in huts that looked like traditional huts from the outside but were luxury on the inside. The scenery was some of the best views I’ve ever seen and the trip was full of craic and there was never a dull moment.
It was a once in a life time experience that I learned so much from. It was the best two weeks of my life.
The experience I have had in Lesotho has been life changing and I have enjoyed every second of it. I was working in Hlalele highs chool with the lads, we played football and hurling with the students. It was different to playing on grass at home because they only have a rocky and sandy pitch.
There was some really good scenery in this country. The weather was very good at times and other times it was thunder and lightning a lot worse than Ireland. The fun I had with the lads was really good when we were staying in our rooms, in Janet’s car and anywhere else. I have learned a lot from this trip and will appreciate a lot more when I’m home, the people in this country are sound and good fun.
Banging out the bangers with Clynsey herself in the car are one of the best moments with the group A Hoiiiii.
My experience in Lesotho was one of the best 2 weeks of my life, the fun with the lads in the rooms and in the car with Clynsey. I have gotten so much closer with a lot of people on the trip. The best thing about the trip was seeing how happy the children were when we arrived at their school.
I was working with the lads in Hlalele High School, we played football and hurling with the boys and played netball or volleyball or sang songs and danced with the girls. The views are amazing in Lesotho, the views are the best I will ever see in my life.
I have learned so much and how lucky I am and how they are so happy but don’t have much, it will make me appreciate a lot more. I never thought the trip was going to be this good. I wouldn’t change anything, all the lads got on so well and I am so lucky to have spent my time with my best mates.
Today was our final day working in the schools. Today we went up to Hlalele high school for the closing ceremony and final goodbye. The deputy principal made a heart warming speech thanking us for our help and how much of an impact we’ve had on them. The students performed a dance for us and the students that have been learning instruments with Brian performed a song.
Sophie also sang Winds Beneath My Wings and more than a few tears were shed. It was very emotional but the whole thing has been an experience we will never forget. As we left the classroom some of the students Brian taught music started playing and the room erupted into dance, then the football match that is played between Hlalele and Portmarnock community school every year started. We got some of the Hlalele students to sign our polo shirts and some people gave away their caps.
We also went into the Women’s Co-op and bought some of the jewellery they made. Everyone had an amazing time in Hlalele and were sad to have to go because the people are so happy and friendly. After we left Hlalele we went to Khuliso day care center where we had spent the past week .
Eve and Sarah
I have had the best experience here in Lesotho. I was working in the Hlalele high school with all the lads and we taught them Gaelic football and hurling it was really enjoyable teaching the kids. I did a bit of construction and painting in Tar Road school as well.
I really enjoyed this trip and I enjoyed interacting with the kids and seeing how other cultures survive on so little and how much of a difference we make in their lives I would do anything to come back in the future
The thing that I was astonished by was the quality of the musicians in Ha Hlalele. I expected to go into the school and teach people the basics of one instrument, guitar, and have them forget it as soon as I left the school. What I found was much more encouraging.
I found people with an interest in music. With a passion for playing the songs they chose together. I found people who have been playing for years or for weeks, but all of them excited to learn and play their instruments .There were nearly twenty guitar players in Hlalale, as well as three drummers and a keyboard player.
But as different as the instruments they play may be, the thing that was in common was that they wanted to be there. They wanted to learn and to grow as musicians. And it was a privilege to help them in doing that.
The Day we Met the King
Today we were their happy guests of the King and Queen at their country residence about 50 km from Maseru.
Their house is at the base of a typical Lesotho rugged mountain with its manicured lawns and gardens.
The invitation was a gesture of gratitude for all the work that Action Ireland Trust and Portmarnock Community School has done in relation to education, poverty eradication and sustainability in Lesotho over the past 7 years.
The following two videos tell the story of how we provided the entertainment and gratefully accepted the hospitality and warmth of the invitation.
Shout out for the kids with the spine tingling singing of Sophie Brennan, the dancing of Mauve Collins and Shauna Grainger, the gift giving by Ciara O’Hare and Josh Phillips, the (unprepared!) excellent speaking by Lara McEvoy and of course the Portmarnock kids dancing!!!
The Week in review from one of the Student groups
Starting off with are first week we went up to Hlalale High School and met all the beautiful kind-hearted children they gave us the biggest welcome and made us feel like we were apart if there big happy family.
After Hlalale we went up to our school which is called Obery school we introduced ourselves and we did some arts and crafts with them. We sang a few songs with them and we also went outside and played football and skipping with the kids.
After school we went into Grade 1 classroom and painted some really pretty paintings on the walls. After that we went back to the hotel and at around 7:30 we had a meeting and talked about what each group did and that was really interesting.
Then on Tuesday we made some arts and crafts e.g. trees and pigs and after school we went up to Tara road and we dusted out each room that was very fun. Then on Wednesday we played some card games like snap and around the world which went great the kids who really enjoyed it and we also played games outside with the kids like football matches and skipping and donkey.
Then on Thursday we played football outside with all the children and we also painted all the classes when the kids were finished school and Robert played some guitar for the kids in Grade 1 which was brilliant.
Then on Friday we went into each class with colouring books and let them colour and we made bracelets with them which they really liked then after their lunch we brought them outside and played loads of games with them and they really enjoyed it. This week has been absolutely amazing I just can’t believe its already over.
By the Significant 7
Ali O’Keeffe, Tom Dunne, Robert Ryan , Eoghan Healy , Sophia Brant (+ Sharon and Michelle)
With the schools closed at the weekend the students went to experience two of the tourist attractions in Lesotho. We stayed on Saturday night in the Thaba Bosiu Cultural Centre, the venue where we had the cultural event in 2016 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Lesotho’s independence and our significant 100th.
The location is in the hearth of the countryside has all the scenery that makes Lesotho special: rugged mountains, dry but green landscape and a never-ending horizon… you could stay forever. The kids went on a hike to the top of the mountain where the previous kings of Lesotho were buried and has the view of the famous Qiloane Mountain.
We then travelled to the Kone caves where families have lived for two centuries now. The houses can be best described as swallow nests attached to the inside wall under the shelf of a cliff face. It also allowed the students see the basis accommodation in Lesotho where a single room houses bed(s) and all cooking equipment, with the walls acting as wardrobes.
Tomorrow we have an audience the King Letsie III and Queen Seeiso. The kids are practicing their dancing and singing in advance of that tonight. It will definitely be an event to remember.
Come tomorrow afternoon we are all back in the projects.
Day 4 of Projects Update
Fadó, fadó in Éirinn
There is a recurring theme in our experiences that Lesotho is Ireland 50/60/70 years ago. It is a developing country trying to modernise. Two reminders came today.
I was in the centre of Maseru with the principal of one of the primary schools and we were buying school clothes for the orphans and those in need in the school. The market in the centre was full of the hustle and bustle you see on those travel adventures on the TV with Singer sowing machines working and food been cooked in front to you. I kept seeing stalls were ladies were feverishly sorting newspaper sheets in a certain order and stacks… so it looked like say the unsold north county leader edition and the pages been sorted into groups… I asked the principal what was that and she said… toilet paper much cheaper that what is sold in shops…
The second is that electrification is coming to Ha Hlalele…. There are wooden poles been put in the ground and the cables placed (minimum amount of machinery and equipment!) and it is hoped that in the next 6 months electricity will reach the schools
Fadó, fadó in Éirinn !!
All the kids seem to be having a great experience and they are fully engaged in the activities. The builders will continue to work through the weekend whilst the rest of us head to Thaba Bosiu which is a cultural centre at the base of the mountain where the Kings of Lesotho were buried and the mountain top that gives Lesotho its unique mountain symbol (when you get a hat as a present when the kids return you will understand).
As a nice surprise we have been given an invitation to meet the King and Queen of Lesotho at their country resident on Monday morning. When the King call..…..should to be a memorable experience for all.
Day 3 of the Projects
Yesterday Tuesday we started our journey in earnest. I am here in Lesotho and I can’t believe it. I have made so many new friends but coming here to Lesotho was not what I expected.
To see a community with nothing and they still have smiles on there faces and are so welcoming. Meeting all the adults and young children in Lesotho has just been wonderful. The scenery is beautiful and so is to hear all the laughter of the children in the primary school.
Hlalele primary school is amazing how the kids are eager to learn and get to know you and your nationality. We made Irish flags and Lesotho flags in class and with smiles on their faces they were willing to get to know all about the flags and the world maps. Another class that I enjoyed with the kids was the paper chains. Seeing all the kids getting involved and the teachers working together it was great to see everyone getting along.
I feel like this is only the beginning of the trip and I can’t wait for more experiences like this to come.
Day 2 of the Projects Tuesday 6 Feb 18
Happy Days Indeed
The trip is going really well. The structure of these visits is now a well-oiled John Daly machine. The success of any year can only be due to the people who travel.
The kids have been great. There is a definite common purpose and unity to this group which allows everything to function with ease allowing adults and students to enjoy themselves to the full. Well done.
The main education thrust of the projects is by parents of current or past students, who are teaching in the primary schools along with their team of students. These groups work really well and by returning each day to the same school and learners allows bound of friendship to grow.
The invisible powerhouse of this machine are the builders… from all walks of days jobs to hardened tradesmen they work tirelessly on improving the infrastructure and fabric of the schools we are associated with… building and repairing classrooms, installing computer rooms, utilities etc. They get the least coverage in the blogs and videos (well in fairness they are far from photogenic) but hard hats off to Aidan, Andy, Brendan, Conor, Damien, David, Garrett, Ger, Gerry, Jimmy, Ken, Kevin, Martin, Noel, Peter, Sean, Tom and Willie for the tireless work they do in dusty hot conditions.
The builders also bring humour and fun in buckets to the work and the trip, and when our kids are working with them they have a hoot (glass hammer territory).
This is our 6th trip in 7 years to Lesotho. For some of us lifers we have built bonds of friendship with teachers and learners in the schools. Ha Hlalele school has been the hub of these activities since the Lesotho Minister of Education paired us with the school. The building over the years of 8 classrooms, science lab, toilets etc will be a long term legacy of the partnership. But this year they have showed us also the structures and teachings in the school have progressed also. Their team of Prefects arranged and delivered fully the welcoming ceremony, so much so their principal Justina and all the teachers dressed in the learners uniform and sta among the learners (it was so funny as I was scanning the 400+ learners in the hall to see those I knew when I came across our teacher friend Sedia sitting among them – very well behaved too).
In previous years there was a huge gathering of primary and secondary school kids on the road to welcome us and the chaos and the joyousness of the welcome was something we all loved and something our egos secretly needed. There was the initial disappointment in the faces in us lifers that the welcome was so low key and then slowly came the realization that the “kid has grown up” and the school is functioning in a manner that you have come to expect it where it the Portmarnock Community School.
Well done Action Ireland Trust…job done!
Of course for our kids new to all of this the welcome was very special. Our rendition of Amhran na Bhfiann was the most confident and loudest we have ever delivered. Thankfully we are asked to sing before the Lesotho national anthem as it would appear that every child in Lesotho is taught to sing even before they are born.
Last night was our formal dinner night. Before the Irish Embassy was closed here in Maseru we used to go to a function there and it had all the feeling and glamour of a Ferrier Rochet sponsored Ambassador’s Reception. The dressing up part for the kids and especially the girls is important so thankfully our dinner with the Archbishop Lerotholi (Oblates Fathers) has remained an annual event. The Archbishop has been a friend to the charity from the outset. He is a wonderful warm and gregarious man and music and craic following the meal is a guarantee. Close to midnight before the kids went to bed…..6.30am start awaits again!!.
Monday 5 February 2018 Day 1 of the Projects
See following for second photo video to accompany yesterdays video ……we are all suited and dressed for our annual meal with the Archbishop so will update you all on this tomorrow.
A Students Report!
Today was the first official day of or trip. We woke around 6:30, ate breakfast and left the hotel by 8:45. Not 5 minutes after departing from the hotel did we see hundreds of people gathered around large taps, attempting to collect water to bring back to their homes. The sight of children as young as 5 and 6 carrying buckets of dirty water was heart-breaking. This was but the first of many emotional moments to follow, throughout the day.
The car journey took approximately an hour, however we were heavily delayed by the treacherous dirt tracks and infinite potholes that seemed to be scattered across the roads. The trip was long and hot but the smiles and waves of the locals, who seemed fascinated by the large convoy, made for a very enjoyable journey.
Upon arrival at mass, we immediately entered the church. We took our seat in the pews in front of the alter and the singing began immediately. We were speechless. The harmonies produced by the church choir quite literally brought a tear to one’s eye, as I, myself, found it difficult to hold back the emotion brought on from the sight of children, earlier that day, and the beautiful melodies heard within the church. After the mass ended, we met and interacted with the local people, outside of the church. We danced, took photos, and played and spoke with the local children.
Following this, we made our way towards the Cheshire Home. It was apparent that the residents were excited to meet us and we went around and spoke with many of the children there. At first, we were all somewhat awkward, however, after going inside and setting up a sing-song, we had a fantastic time. Camillus’ outstanding performance broke the ice and we all began to open up and make the best of the day. We showed the children our dances and sung songs with the residents. I will forever associate “American Pie” with the Cheshire Home. Andrea led our dance routine and we all had a great time. One young child grew somewhat attached to myself, after I carried and played with him. Leaving the Home was very difficult. We took photos and exchanged fare- wells, however there was an over-lying feeling of sadness. The people had nothing, yet they were all so ecstatic, welcoming and playful. I am yet to see a frown on the face of a single person we’ve met.
We arrived back in the hotel, after shopping, and went straight to the pool, where we all relaxed and enjoyed the sun until it was time to leave for dinner. We chatted and relaxed after out meal and headed up the bed around 10:30.
Today was, without a doubt, one of the greatest days of my life. The experiences from today, alone, have completely changed my perspective on poverty and has made me grateful for the privileged life I’ve been born into. I now understand that true happiness doesn’t come from wealth or possessions, but from love and enjoyment. I experienced emotions I’ve never felt before and, at times found it hard to withhold said emotions. I look forward to the upcoming days and I am excited to make a difference and give back to the world.
Joshua Fitzgerald Tighe
A Parents Team Report
Blog from Waka Waka team bus:
Today was absolutely brilliant and full of laughter, fun and friendship and a small number of tears too. We were up really early this morning getting ready for our trip to Ha Hallele school. We’ve been hearing so much about this flagship school and it didn’t disappoint us. The rocky roads up the mountains added to our sense of excitement; the music blaring WAKA WAKA from our van. We rolled down the windows and called out to all the locals waving to us along the mountainside. They were definitely happy to see us travelling up in convoy. What a spectacle we must have been!
When we arrived at Ha Hallele, the school children were there to greet us excitedly and we were ushered into Assembly by the Head Boy and Head Girl to start proceedings. All our students were invited to sing the Irish National anthem and we left nothing behind us, we belted it out and we felt fantastic. That was the teary part for the parents and organisers, full of pride for all of us. The Hallele choir then sang the Lesotho National Anthem and it was breath taking, such an array of sounds and melodies. The Principal spoke and thanked us for coming and reminded us that we are part of their family in Lesotho. We then went on to visit the classrooms and mingled with all the students there. We weren’t even uncomfortable going in because we felt so welcome. We sang songs, took selfies, danced and just had a great laugh and bit of banter with them. It was a really special moment.
We had the Boom Box in our van and Andrea led the dancing with the primary school students up the hill. Everyone danced and laughed and joined in together dancing with the younger kids and just having fun.
We then headed off to meet our school principal in Seleso to agree the itinerary for the week but on the way we stopped in at the school on the Tar road for a brief ‘chat’. The children ran over to greet us in the car and we had great fun dancing with them and doing ‘Ring of Rosie’ in a huge circle. They seemed to have so little but they also seemed so happy. What a rollercoaster of emotions.
When we got to Seleso school to meet Mamaloisse, the school principal, we played with the children in the field while Andrea and Elaine worked out the finer details of the schedule. At first, we had about 20 kids with us, but then more came and continued to run towards us like a stampede until eventually we had the full school with us wanting to hold our hands, and talk to us and dance the Waka Waka with us. It was a bit manic but great fun.
We finished up our day in the Cheshire homes with all the lovely guys there, playing ball games and blowing and trying to catch bubbles. We’ll be back there tomorrow in the afternoon so we’lll have more fun then.
We wrote this blog in the car as we drove around and we all agreed that the highlight of the day was the sense of excitement from all the children and students we met today.
We had so many highs today, it was fantastic and we are so looking forward to tomorrow.
Ciara, Sinead, Maeve, Niamh, Shauna, Elaine & Andrea.
Sunday 4 February 2018
First day of the trip… and here’s the days events from eyes of a first time parent of on the trip..
I never expected to hear teachers knocking on the door to wake me up, I thought those days were behind me! However, as was at breakfast at 0700 it was a necessary and welcome intervention for many!
It was wonderful to see all our students dressed beautifully, the boys in their white shirts with black ties and the girls in black dresses of various styles. All were well presented and a far cry from the travel weary bunch from yesterday.
We took off in our convoy of vans and bakkies to Mass for 0800. We were welcomed into the very large congregation with smiles and curiosity – on both sides. Mass is a longer occasion here and was two hours duration. The celebration of Mass included singing from a glorious sounding male voice choir from baritone up to alto combined with percussion from a bongo drum, dressed in vivid red shirts and sunshine bright yellow ties. Their sound lifted the joyous feeling in the ceremony. One lovely feature of the Mass was when the priest called for a blessing any of the congregation who were to celebrate their birthday in the coming week. This included some of our students in the number, who rose to join the line for blessing with the local people, adults and children alike, while being serenaded by the entire church singing ‘Happy Birthday’.
After Mass we had a chance to mingle and chat with the congregation, the PCS students were like celebs with all the requests for selfies. And all obliged willingly. Such a stunning congregation of people who welcome a motley crew of people from the other side of the world to their mass and such heartfelt welcome could not have been anticipated by a newbie like myself.
Our next stop was St Angela’s Cheshire Home for people with disabilities. The students had prepared some songs and dancing under the tutorship of Andrea and Brian. Not only did the performances provide entertainment for the clients but also helped our students to relax a little. This also allowed them to understand some of what they will be experiencing on this visit to Lesotho and to see the improvements made by Action Ireland Trust over the years. Watching our young people step up and interact with the children in a positive and appropriate manner was enlightening. The students encouraged the children to join in as much as possible – wheelchairs spinning and everything. The sound of laughter barely overshadowed by the singing of ‘A Roo Cha Cha’ by everyone present.
Our visit to St Angela’s was too brief at only an hour but those students who will be working there during their visit were delightedly telling the clients and their peers, “We’ll see you tomorrow!”.
Although not expressed verbally, it was possible to feel the confidence rising and a desire to get stuck in to the work while we are here. On our return to the hotel we met with teachers from the schools in which we will be based during our stay. This allowed us to ask questions and means there will be no strangers tomorrow when we go to work.
The students visited the local shopping centre for lunch and to pick up ‘supplies’ before spending the afternoon in and around the pool. We will have our brief meeting at 19.30 and then dinner…..I wonder what event is planned for this evening?
It has been an emotional day. Watching the veterans hugging people they have met year on year, watching the students overcome the shock of the poverty experienced by the people here, understanding that there is more to a people than their circumstances, seeing the positive impact the action Ireland Trust projects have had here, and seeing the overt joy of the people when our convoy drives (slowly) down the very bumpy roads. There are smiles and waving from everyone, there is a warmth to the people we have met, they are interested in us as people – asking our names and what they mean etc. There is a feeling of goodness in the air and even the brief thunder and lightning storm can’t wash it away. The trip is only starting with each group going out to their projects tomorrow, I can only imagine the wondrous experiences ahead of us all.
I am proud to say I know these students, they are a fabulous group of characters and are gelling well together already and watching out for each other. They are stepping up when asked and eager to join in and participate in the activities. It is heartening to see a group of young people growing up and becoming mature before you. They are the future, and the future is in good hands.
Projects start tomorrow!!!
We have arrived!
Arrived safe and sound at 6pm this evening. Journey is long but with 44 kids awaiting a new experience there is never a complaint.
Up early tomorrow for 8am mass and a visit to The Cheshire Home. The teachers from all the schools we are partnering with are meeting with our students and teachers in the hotel at noon in preparation of the kick off of projects on Monday. The rest of the day will be downtime before the 6.30am starts kick in!!!
Only 1 more sleep.
Every day we will post between 6pm and 8pm details of the day’s happenings and give you a flavour of the activities with a video posting.