AS our Celtic FC Foundation volunteers’ time in Zambia comes to a close, the group are preparing for the long journey home. Their experience in the country, however, will no doubt be one which none of them will ever forget.
During the earlier parts of the trip, the group had been split into two working groups, to complete their first four projects, but Wednesday and Thursday saw the two teams join forces, as all 18 volunteers came together to work at Mkowe Primary School and Masamba Primary School.
On arrival at the schools, the group were met with a warm welcome which has been typical of their time in Zambia, regardless of which community they have visited.
The focus for Wednesday was to ensure that a white base coat was applied at each school, and with plenty of hands available, the group completed their task in record time. This allowed them plenty of opportunity to engage with children of each school.
Once again, our volunteers shared songs and laughter with the children, even introducing them to ‘the Huddle’, ‘the Broony’ and a few other Celtic favourites.
With prep work complete, the group arrived early at Masamba Primary School on Thursday morning to begin the stencilling of the educational features for the ‘talking walls’ such as the alphabet, numbers, shapes, animals and days of the week.
By lunch time, the classroom had been completely transformed and was practically unrecognisable from the one which the group had first encountered.
The time came for the group to say goodbye and once again it was a truly special moment as the community expressed its immense gratitude for the work of Celtic FC Foundation’s Zambia volunteers.
The group also provided a host of gifts for the children of the school before leaving, as they handed over bags of goodies to the Head Teacher to share among them.
In the afternoon, they made the short trip to Mkowe Primary School, where they replicated the process to create yet another classroom, awash with colour.
With work done for the day, the volunteers once again had the opportunity to play with children of Mkowe, with singing and dancing in full flow, until the group had to finally bid an emotional farewell.
Gifts were once again given to the school, providing an invaluable opportunity for the children to play with brand new toys and games.
Their wonderful efforts throughout the day have transformed two more dark and dull rooms into a two wonderfully vibrant learning environments, which will help the children’s progress immensely.
On their last day in Zambia, the group visited one final school, Mkanire Primary School, as they had the opportunity to hand out some of the clothes which they had brought to donate to Mary’s Meals. The gifts were donated to Mkanire’s Early Childhood Development centre for children up to the age of six-years-old.
With 75 children in the class, every volunteer was kept busy, but there were plenty of gifts to go around, thanks to the generosity of the group and those who had donated items for them to bring with them on their trip.
Celtic’s FC Foundation’s first ever Zambia adventure has been a truly special experience for each and every one of our 18 volunteers. It has been a journey which will live long not only in their memories but also in those of the children they have encountered on the way.
Celtic FC Foundation must express a huge thanks to so many people who have made the trip possible. Everyone who has sponsored or supported one of our volunteers, Mary’s Meals for providing placements, Glen Travel for arranging our travel, Mamarulas Lodge for meeting our accommodation needs, Responsible Safari Company – and Ozzie and Newton in particular – for looking after our internal travel so well and of course to the incredible children and school staff we have met in Chipata.
Finally, thank you to the 18 amazing volunteers who have worked so hard over the past 10 days – Mark Cameron, Robert Corr, Aaron Coyle, Martin Cummings, Christopher Deith, Pauline Findlay, Ross Hart, Taylor Jobson, Michael Kinsella, Joanne McGirr, Anne Marie McKinless, John Mullan, Declan Rooney, Eddie Rooney, Phil Rowan, Ken Simpson, Michael Taggart and Amanda Wilson.
Having started their trip last Tuesday as 18 strangers, our volunteers will leave Zambia with a unique bond, having shared a truly wonderful experience.
Today the group will begin their 30-hour journey home knowing that they have fully left their mark on Zambia, and their efforts would have made Brother Walfrid and his fellow founding fathers proud.
To register your interest in future overseas volunteering trips, please email [email protected] or call 0141 551 4321.