The community in Sandymount in Dublin are continuing to build a Ã¢â‚¬Ëœfriendship programme’ with Matero Parish in Lusaka in Zambia.
The community in Sandymount in Dublin are continuing to build a Ã¢â‚¬Ëœfriendship programme’ with Matero Parish in Lusaka in Zambia, writes James Meenan, liaison person between the two parishes.
Matero is a Jesuit Parish which has multiple social and health challenges like many other communities in that country. The objective is to promote the education and feeding of orphans and vulnerable children. It also seeks to promote cultural and social links between the two communities, particularly the schoolchildren.
Providing sustainable practical support rather than making one off gestures, the focus of the fundraising is to invite donors to make smaller, but sustainable monthly contributions. This allows a degree of predictability which would enable the programme to budget for both ongoing and once off projects.
One advantage the programme enjoys is that donors can easily identify with a local project with specific beneficiaries and outcomes in a designated community. While providing support for the development of the school, the project also aspires to develop an opportunity for partnership and friendship, as opposed to just simple donations.
The programme provides for the feeding of all the children in the Community School in Matero. It also provides for the salaries of three full time teachers including the school Principal, and has funded the acquisition of badly needed school furniture and books. More recently, twenty five children who have left the school (at approximately the same age as leaving National School) have been provided with scholarships to attend local schools for a full secondary programme.
Fr Tadeusz Swiderski SJ, Province Treasurer for Zambia and Malawi visited Sandymount earlier this year and thanked the donors. He clarified that while the feeding programme has led to 100% attendance, when the children were asked about the programme, the benefit they appreciated most was they felt they were getting a genuine opportunity for a real education which will greatly increase the potential rewards for their talents.
Perhaps this touches on a big difference for young people in Ireland compared to a place like Zambia. In Ireland, both talent and opportunity are presumed. In Zambia, opportunity is far from certain.
In time the programme would like to transit from support to encouraging and facilitating sustainable income generating projects which, in turn, can add to the momentum for progress in Matero. The scholarships are a great start but naturally, there is much scope to build on this. There are a number of initiatives for both fundraising and partnership. For example, an art completion for schools on both communities is proposed for this term. Children in Sandymount and Matero will be able to exchange images of their respective areas.
Finally the programme would like to thank all those who have donated so generously over the years, particularly in such difficult times. Also a huge thank you goes to Fr. John Guiney SJ and Winnie Ryan, and all in the Irish Jesuit Mission Office for all their support in facilitating the programme.