A Decade of Friendship

matero girls

The South Dublin parish of Sandymount has shared cultural and social links with a township in Lusaka, Zambia for almost ten years. The partnership resulted in clean running water for a school in Matero, and insights into a different culture and way of life for the Irish community.

Friendship Programme Between Ireland and Zambia

A community in Sandymount Parish, Dublin built a ‘friendship programme’ with the Jesuit Parish of Matero in Lusaka, Zambia almost 10 years ago. The partnership is an example of a twinning programme to connect a community in the northern hemisphere with one in the Global South the Northern Hemisphere with one in the Global South, which has become a common practice, to encourage people from different cultures and socioeconomic contexts to learn from and support each other in different ways, and recognise that our world is a global village.

As part of this friendship, sponsorship from Sandymount Parish has helped vulnerable and orphaned children in the township of Matero to attend school. In turn, members of the Sandymount community have visited Matero to immerse themselves in Zambian culture and learn about the region, which has nurtured cultural and social links between the two communities.

St Mary’s Community School Water Project

St Mary’s Mother of the Redeemer Community School in Matero was affected by a lack of clean water and proper sanitation, due to the fact that there was just one water tap at the school for 570 pupils and 13 staff members. The lack of a safe water supply meant that the children needed to bring their own drinking water to school, or return home when there was no running water at the school, which affected their academic performance. It also exposed them to the risk of an outbreak of cholera.

Thanks to the generosity and support of their friends in Sandymount Parish, the Matero community was able to install a borehole and new running water system at the school. This has made a dramatic difference to the lives of pupils at the school.

Girls’ Education in Matero

Wandile Hope Musa is 14 years old and is in Grade 9 at St Mary’s school, thanks to a scholarship. She recognises that an education will give her a more equal footing with men in decision-making and for employment opportunities and is glad of the chance to complete her schooling.

Maria Mbewe is also 14. She is grateful for the financial support that will allow her to continue her education and says she is motivated to succeed by the difficulties she has already endured since her father died two years ago, leaving her mother without the means to afford school fees.

Education for girls like Wandile and Maria will enable them to go on to have more stable lives. Giving them increased opportunities to gain employment is just one benefit. Girls who attend school are more likely to avoid early marriage and pregnancy with the risks for their health and the health of their babies that this entails. It will affect the next generation too, as children who have an educated mother with knowledge about health and nutrition are more healthy, and her skills and knowledge are likely to be shared with them, making them more likely to pursue education themselves.

The partnership with Sandymount Parish has given these girls and others like them a priceless opportunity to go on to have safe, healthy and fulfilling lives.