Aisling Byrne Kabwe, VP17

A short look at my experience as a volunteer in Kabwe in Zambia, in the summer of 2017.

It started with a more than dramatic flight to Zambia in which we has 3 different unplanned stop overs, but as we got closer and closer the excitement for the placement grew and grew. We were both excited and anxious to hit down in Africa.

Once we touched down in Zambia, we were instantly amazed at how friendly the people were, and how beautiful the scenery was. Everything and everyone was so relaxed, and we started to get accustomed to 'Zambian Time', in which everything took about 40 minutes longer than it should; from buses, to shop ques, to ordering food, everything moves at a slower pace in Zambia. But we instantly felt like we had a home here.

Typical Zambian Sunset


After a few day of settling in, we got straight into our six week teaching placement. My school was St. Mary's, a school in the outskirts of Kabwe town, in which I thought two classes, grade 3 and grade 4. Each class had about 75 students in each, but was so much fun! The kids themselves had so much character and were incredibly cheeky and sweet all at once. My teaching partner Nick and I, had so much fun teaching them lessons such as English and science, which also incorporating some games and songs into the lessons, which the kids loved. The teachers and the school as a whole were so happy to have us, and incredibly accommodating. The teachers in the end learned a lot from us being there, but we also learned a lot from them.

Our first day of school
My classroom and a couple of my teachers. We continue to keep in contact even to this day!

We also go to visit the other team member's schools, including Calab, a school for children with autism, and Ben Kapufi., another school in the Kabwe district. We helped with some handy work in Calab, and in participated in an Irish day in Ben Kapufi. It was such an amazing experience to show the kids and teachers some traditional irish food, music and dancing. Overall this was one of my favourite days of the entire trip.

Free time

Everyday Views in Kabwe. . .

We usually spent our free time after school exploring Kabwe, playing cards, playing hurling and table tennis and attempting to get a tan (we were unsuccessful). We often hosted the other Kabwe team at our hostel in which we had BBQs and a couple nights out together. We also visited the local night club called Tall Trees, which was so much fun and would beat a night out in Coppers any day.

Road trips, bbq's and nights out with friends
Our sweaty selves after our weekly Zumba Class
Aoife encouraging everyone to get up and dance as per usual. . .

At the weekends we usually always planned a trip away. During the first bank holiday weekend, we traveled down to Livingstone, the home of Victoria Falls. We visited the falls, went on safari, and browsed the local markets and haggled our way into getting a few presents for home. I actually got to spend my 21st birthday in Livingstone which was just an added bonus. We also visited the capital city of Lusaka, which had all the comforts of home, with shopping centers, cinemas, and fast food.

The Team

One of the best parts of going away was the friends I made. Your team becomes your family from the moment to get on the plane. Living together, traveling to remote parts of the world, experiencing such a different culture, and going through such tough situations, brings you all together in a way that is completely indescribable.

There's so much more I could say but I'd encourage you just to go and experience it for yourselves. If you're looking for a new experience in which you get to make friends, travel to a new place and make a difference in the lives of children, then I think the SUAS programme is for you .

10/10 would recommend (:

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