Eighteen transition year students from Cólaiste Chroí Mhúire in An Spidéal along with volunteer leaders, will be going to Zambia to work with the Alan Kerins Project.
The students leave for Zambia this Sunday and spend two weeks in southern African nation. They are the first pilot group to travel to Zambia under the new Leadership Intercultural exchange programme developed by Alan Kerins and Foróige.
The participants have paid for their own flights and will cover all their own costs. In addition they will donate more than €20,000 to the Cheshire Home in Kaoma which takes care of some 140 orphaned boys and girls aged between six months and 18 years.
The An Spidéal students have raised a total of €24,832 and these funds will form the basis of a scholarship fund for orphans in Zambia. This fund will enable girls and boys to attend secondary school and access third level education in Western Province, Zambia.
The young people, along with six adult leaders, have been working together on an orientation programme for the past year.
The programme helps young people develop leadership skills and a deeper understanding of active citizenship and civic engagement locally, as well as creating awareness of global issues.
In Zambia, the young people will build a training and accommodation facility in Kaoma, western Zambia, to house Irish youth exchange participants as well as provide a source of income generation for the community.
While there they will also make a documentary and do some recording with the young people in Zambia as well as help in the orphanage.
The Alan Kerins Projects community development worker in Kaoma, Michelle Hennessy, a former Foróige worker, is developing the programme in Zambia, and preparing to welcome the An Spidéal group.
A group of young Zambians, who are working on parallel leadership issues with Ms Hennessy and their leaders, will participate in the leadership programme and work with the Irish students.
Alan Kerins is excited by the new leadership immersion model being developed by Alan Kerins Projects and Foróige.
“The combination of leadership training in transition year combined with the experiential learning the young people will gain whilst spending their two weeks in Zambia will be of huge benefit to Irish and Zambian youth,” he said. “We are hoping to get many more schools and youth groups involved with this programme.”
Dick O’Donovan, regional manager for Foróige in the west of Ireland, and a key driving force behind the development of the intercultural leadership exchange programme, said the young people from An Spidéal have benefited from the programme.
“Their self-esteem and level of confidence have risen dramatically,” he said, “as well as learning a whole new range of skills from documentary making, photography, event management, people skills, and an understanding of their own leadership styles.”