A group of nine students and three teachers have returned from Naas CBS’ fourth Zambian Immersion Project.
They spent spent two weeks at Mazabuka in the African country where they lived and worked with the Christian Brothers and Irish Mercy Sisters.
Living conditions for many were difficult, though the students quickly realised there was as much to learn and take from the Zambians as they had hoped to bring and give.
Some improvement since 2004 was evident in the spacing of houses and the provision of shared water pumps but many homes have no running water or electricity.
Within compounds (shanty towns) such as nDeke, large families of six or more shared homes that equate to a single room. Roofed with tin and simply furnished, there was no doubting the continuing harsh reality of life here.
This was most apparent to the students while visiting the overcrowded and unhygienic hospital which has a nurse to patient ratio of 1 to 36 and the problems caused by single unreliable generator meant regular disruption of electricity.
Some 20 percent of the population is infected with HIV and other illness such as malaria.
There is a constant battle with hunger, high unemployment and huge numbers of orphans, some as young as ten who carry the responsibilities of the head of a household.
Yet some communities are vibrant and empowered thanks in part to the work and projects of groups including the Christian Brothers and Irish Mercy Sisters.
The City of Joy is a centre that offers a safe home and environment for young girls who were subject to abuse or neglect.
The Bethlehem Bakery makes and sells a thousand loaves a day and was set up by an Italian priest but is now run by the local community. As well as providing employment for the community it provides a shining example of enterprise .
Students Luke Purcell, Liam Power, Ronán Mac Giolla Rua, Shane McHugh, Shane Gorman, Philip Cluxton Corley, Luke Cassidy, Cormac Hennessy and Brian Haveran were accompanied by teachers Mary Ambrose, Sive O Connor and Damien Stephens to complete the project.