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Presentation Sisters Union                          News Update June 2009                             Print Version                          

Saturday, 6 June 2009: Another early call today.  By 7.00 a.m. we were heading off on an exciting but very cold journey on an open safari truck to the game park near the Falls.  Our guide was very nice and even brought us off the road on to  a track through the jungle.  We saw lots of impala, buffalo, zebra, water bucks and were even lucky enough to  see a giraffe pass right in front of our truck.  We all loved the game park and were full of energy that evening when we boarded the Zambezi Cruise for a trip down the river.  We were amazed to see two hippos and a crocodile.  We really enjoyed the cruise.

Sunday, 7 June 2009: Today was taken up by our return journey to Lusaka.  We arrived for the 9.00 a.m. bus expecting the same comfort as on our outward trip.  Alas this was a very different bus.  The first two hours were rough going on the dirt track and there were quite a few dodgy tummies but once we got back on the surfaced road we were fine again.  We reached Lusaka  at 4.00pm -  another marathon journey.  

Monday, 8 June 2009: Today was our final day in Zambia. We visited Ngombe compound to learn about the home-based care programme run by Sr. Mari O Brien. We talked with her and some of the volunteer caregivers and their work. She explained the role of a caregiver is to make sure the people of Ngombe community who suffer from HIV/AIDs get the right nutrition and antiretroviral drugs they need to survive and have a reasonable quality of life.

They also provide counselling and therapy services such as art therapy, called "body mapping", where the person draws a picture of themselves and draws or writes their goals, ambitions and achievements. This encourages a positive and focused attitude for them. They also explained some of the stark choices facing families.  At one time it was felt that a newborn baby had a better chance of survival if the mother who is HIV positive did not breast feed.  But research has shown that in fact babies are more likely to die from malnutrition if they are not breast-fed. So now mothers are encouraged to breast feed and babies are put on retroviral drugs, which they may be on for life.  Sr. Mari and the caregivers, many of whom are HIV positive, shared some personal and inspiring experiences, which gave us a better idea of the hard work and commitment they put in.

Later that evening Sr. Inez should us a slide show of all the work she does in Kaoma, Kabanga, Kandende, Pemba and Lusaka. She is part of a group called Cosmic Woman and their motto is 'care of the earth, care of the people'. They encourage conservation farming using new methods and are trying to stop the use of chemicals and use of fertilizers. They also encourage the farmers to be more resourceful by switching from charcoal burning braziers to specially designed twig burning stoves, which don't produce as much smoke and are more environmentally friendly.

Casava (ground nuts) is a drought resistant crop which they want to encourage farmers to grow in case of a drought so that they will still have an income for their families. We saw pictures of a new mushroom farm based outside Lusaka where mushrooms are grown and sold to the local Spar for a fair price. These are just some of the many projects that her group are working on. We really only had a glimpse of how much work Sr. Inez does and it has a huge impact on the people who are lucky enough to have her in their area.

After the presentation we went for our final meal in Zambia with Inez, Prema, Nora, Fr. Eamon Hayden and Fr. P.J.  It was very enjoyable and relaxing, and it put a final close on our wonderful trip to Zambia where we met the most amazing people and had many life changing experiences.

As we come to the end of this extraordinary experience we would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have made it possible, our school, Presentation College Carlow, and especially our teachers, Ms Mags Territ and Ms Anne Marie Grant and also our families and friends.  We have seen at first hand what a difference our school’s contribution has already made and are so happy to be able to make a sizeable donation to different projects again this year.  This is possible because of the generosity of the people of Carlow and all those who helped in any way, with a donation, sponsorship, a fund-raising activity etc. To each one of you our heartfelt thanks.

Reflections on our Journey:

We leave you with these reflections on our time in Zambia:

“The last 3 weeks have depicted perfectly the strength of love, commitment, generosity and selflessness.”

“For me when I remember Zambia I will think of the exuberance of the people, the humbling welcomes and the people’s selflessness.”

“The memories will stay with me forever…”

“The Zambian people are so kind and giving of what little material wealth they have and I love how they value one another.”

“Three most thought provoking weeks…. Could stay for so much longer”

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