20-YEAR-OLD student, Ciaran Dolan, from Enniskillen, has just returned from a charity mission in Zambia.
The former St Michael’s college student currently studies at the University of Sheffield, and spent time in the Southern African country, building homes and providing clothes for the people of Mwandi.
Ciaran spent three weeks there, organised through charity ‘Mission Zambia’, where he helped build two homes for families within the village.
“The one thing I didn’t expect was the welcoming of the people of Mwandi,” he explained.
“We were known as ‘Makuwa’ which means ‘white people’ and everywhere we went people were screaming ‘Makuwa, Makuwa’ and the children would grab our hands or use us as a walking climbing frame wherever we went.”
The homes that Ciaran helped build were mud hut homes, which are expected to last up to 15 years.
They took five days per home to build.
“The poverty of the people of Mwandi was quite severe. Some 50% of all of the children in Mwandi were HIV positive, and TB was rife among the elderly,” Ciaran continued
“They had wells in the town, but that was the only luxury. The town had a hospital without an X-ray machine, an orphanage without beds and a school where 12 teachers lived in one room. It was difficult to see how these people lived, but they always had a smile on their faces, despite everything.”
He went on: “After building the homes for the two families, they each gathered us around in a group and thanked us for our work, prayed for us and apologised that they had nothing to pay us with. It was very emotional. The few minutes listening to these people and how grateful they were was worth the past year of fund-raising and hard work, hands down.”
Ciaran added his own personal thanks to those who helped contribute through street collections, cake sales and online donations – as well as those who donated clothes, toys and school supplies for him to bring to Zambia.
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