A group of NUI Galway students travelled to Zambia this summer, in order to help some of the poorest African communities build a space which they could call home.
Sharon Murray, a law student, spent two weeks in the African country as a volunteer for the housing charity Habitat for Humanity Ireland.
“None of this would have been possible if it wasn’t for every single person who supported me in my fundraising,” said Ms Murray.
“Without all of the generous donations, I could not have done this.
“I will never forget the time I spent in Zambia and I really hope I can return there someday.”
In two weeks, the Habitat for Humanity teams managed to build two houses for two large families in Twapia, Ndola, a town near the Democratic Republic of Congo border.
“The two Habitat homeowners were both widowed women in their sixties, who were the caretakers of their grandchildren,” explained Ms Murray.
“We got to work alongside Cecelia and Malita [the elderly women] on a daily basis. We weren’t just building houses alongside two families we had never met.
“We were building alongside people we had developed a unique bond with.”
As a law student, Ms Murray was also concerned by the lack of foresight in relation to property laws.
In certain circumstances, families can lose their everything following the death of a family member, so teaching local communities the inheritance laws surrounding this illegal practice was an important step in improving these areas.
“I was truly blown away by the Habitat homeowners’ reactions towards the ‘will writing presentation’ and their desire to learn more.
“The community’s hunger to learn about matters such as how to prevent property grabbing in the event of a homeowner’s death was something that could only be described as infectious.”
Habitat for Humanity has been building homes in Zambia since 1984, and to date, the charity has served a total of 99,558 vulnerable people in half of the country’s 10 regions.
Habitat for Humanity Ireland’s overseas volunteering programme is open to members of the Irish public, and no construction experience is necessary.
For more information, visit www.habitatireland.ie