Colm O'Brien Kabwe, VP18

My experience as a volunteer on the Suas Volunteer Programme, 2018.

In June 2018, we headed off as a team of 10, not quite knowing what to expect of the coming 10 weeks. We didn't know each other very well, but we knew we would all be sharing in an amazing experience, that would shape our lives going forward.

Team Luangwa 2018, ready for departure


Our goal, over an eight week period was to work as teaching assistants with local schools, in the town of Kabwe, Central Province, Zambia

I myself had a very unique, and special experience, working in The Caleb Centre, a school set up by local people, with the aim of providing education to children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and other intellectual disabilities. This is the first centre of it's kind in Zambia, and it truly is a magical place.

That first day, when we first entered the Caleb centre, and did not quite know what to expect.

During our stay, we worked with a total of 13 children, whom we each got to know in a very unique and special way. We worked with the school's two wonderful voluntary teachers, and we learned so much from everyone involved in the centre.

We spent many evenings during the placement planning activities for the next day's class
Some of the day by day goings on

During our stay, we tried to ensure that the children always had a good time and enjoyed themselves, as well as trying to make their environment and surroundings as accommodating and supportive as possible. Every morning we used to sing and dance with the children, and every afternoon was spent out in the yard playing football or using the sandpit.

Down time after classes were over always went down a treat!

We also helped out around the school itself, painting murals and decorating classrooms, to make The Caleb Centre an even more inviting place for all who attend, as well as engaging the children moreso with their environment.

Some of the touches we added to the Centre
Caleb Centre Volunteers, 2018


jameson avenue, Kabwe: our home during the placement

Kabwe is a very warm and welcoming town. There are street markets and vendors where you can buy all your fruit and veg, as welll as three supermarkets where you can get pretty much everything you can get at home.

Kabwe's market, with anything and everything to be found
the infamous "BIG TREE", kabwe

In our down time, we could go to the gym, go out for lunch to the famous "Fig Tree Restaurant", or spend some time reading and reflecting on the day's work.

Evenings spent in a local lodge with a book in one hand, and a bottle of Castle in the other

At the weekends, we would also visit "Tall Trees" the local nightclub and bar.

Better than any night out at home!


Team Luangwa, 2018

Throughout the whole Suas experience, you are living and working with some amazing people, who may even become friends for life!

You spend most of the day together, in very close quarters, and sometimes in very challenging environments, where you learn so much about one another, and about yourself.

Everyone is going through something completely different to what they are used to at home, pushing their own boundaries and stepping out of their comfort zone. You learn to depend on one another, and help each other out, in a way that I cannot completely describe.

On some of the weekends, we travelled together as a team, to Livingstone and Victoria falls, as well as to Lusaka, the capital of Zambia. We saw some amazing things together and thoroughly enjoyed the down time.

Victoria Falls and Zambezi River Cruise

The Suas Volunteer Programme is honestly one of the best things I've ever been part of, and is something that I would recommend to anyone who wants to do something a little different, and really push themselves outside of their comfort zone.

Zambian sunsets: the best you'll ever see

If you want to make a difference, see a new place, and meet some new people, then SUAS VP is for you

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