Welcome to the story of my work in Zambia.
In 2008, I went to Zambia to work with some of the world’s poorest people and it opened my eyes to a new reality. With a bit of a jolt, I saw for the first time the reality of life and death on our planet and how close we all are to each other and to hunger. A day’s journey in a jet will bring any of us to the edge of the world where deprivation, poverty, illness, hunger and death are daily events.
Having seen poverty once, I have been unable to forget it and to return to living blind in Ireland, not seeing the rest of humanity around us. I have visited Zambia every year since then (save when Covid prevented it) with a talented team of volunteers from Ireland and together with a few key Zambian friends, and based in Chipulukusu, Ndola, Zambia, we are making a difference.
Together with our Zambian friends and partners, we have worked out a few strategies to help to lift people in Zambia out of poverty. Some of the projects, such as micro-finance small loans for widows to start a small business, have an immediate effect. Some other projects, like building a library and supporting education, are much longer-term plans, but the goal is the same. Let’s eradicate poverty and make life better for some of the world’s poorest people.
This is the website in which I set out what I am doing, and if you look around you will see reports from all previous years, plenty of photographs and stories and information about specific schools and different projects which we have undertaken. Please do look around and find out. Some of the current projects are as follows:
Together with my Zambian friends, we have come up with a few practical projects to try to lift people out of poverty. We first of all established a micro-finance project to give small loans to widows seeking to establish a small business, such as dress making, chicken rearing or cement block making. That initiative was immediately very successful in bringing a significant number of widows and their families out of poverty, permanently. We then provided further support by conducting workshops, run by Irish volunteers, in basic business skills and financial literacy for business people. More recently, we have established an Enterprise Centre in Ndola where people starting off in business can come together for mentorship, support and access to tools and raw materials.
Assisting Education with books, bookshelves and laptop computers
I discovered that most schools in Zambia had no books, and there were no bookshops or libraries within hundreds of miles of Ndola. We therefore started supplying books and teaching materials from Ireland to a few schools around Ndola which had no access to books. From small beginnings, we have provided well-stocked libraries to many schools and in the past few years we have sent three 40-foot steel shipping containers, each containing over 20 tons of books, to Zambia. As of January 2023, we have another container almost full and ready to go. We have established an enormous stock of books in Zambia which are shared out among many schools. We have also helped to set up computer labs in several schools so as to assist in computer learning.
Volunteer trips to Zambia
Having delivered a huge stock of books, we quickly found that many Zambian teachers were unused to working with books and were not trained in teaching reading and literacy. Therefore, since 2018 we have brought out teams of Irish teachers and educational psychologists and held enormous teachers’ training conferences to train the Zambian teachers in the best means of making use of the books, computers and educational materials supplied. This is an ongoing effort which requires volunteers to travel out to Zambia every year.
All of our volunteers raise funds and pay their own way, so that none of the money raised in Ireland for our projects is used to cover our expenses. During their time in Zambia, all volunteers live in Chipulukusu, in the same houses as our neighbours, which means without electricity or running water, showers or toilets or furniture. Our food is cooked over a charcoal fire and we sleep on the floor under mosquito nets.
Our volunteers’ work typically involves running teacher-training seminars for 80 to 100 teachers and providing instruction in literacy, computers and financial skills. We also spend a considerable amount of time supporting the container-libraries, the micro-finance projects and generally assisting with the development of these projects, and developing further initiatives.
Many schools in Zambia do not have proper walls, roofs, windows and doors sufficient to accommodate and keep safely a stock of books. Therefore, two of the three steel shipping containers in which the tons of books were delivered to Zambia have been provided with windows and doors and are now operating as free public libraries. All schools have access to those books, as well as people (adults as well as children) who are attending no school at all.
Our container libraries have proven to be immensely popular. Although we started off with the libraries being run by volunteers, in 2022 we employed four full-time professional librarians to run those libraries. A steel shipping container is, however, far from ideal, particularly in the heat of an African sun. It is time to take the next step.
A new library for Chipulukusu
Since the arrival of books in Chipulukusu, we have seen a keen interest in reading develop, and great demand for the books. Some people come a considerable distance to read or borrow a book, but we have no comfortable place for them to read. A new library, accessible to all, is the solution. As of January 2023, we have architect’s plans drafted, we have a site in Chipulukusu, we have a building permit and we have an agreement with the Zambian Ministry for Education that if we build and equip a library on that site, we and the Ministry will run it jointly for the benefit of the entire community. Donors in Ireland have raised over €143,000.00 to fund the construction. We are hoping to start building in the next two months
Volunteer trip 2023
This summer we are planning to run another large teacher-training seminar for about 80 teachers over the course of two weeks in the summer, as well as providing another workshop for basic computers and a course in basic business and financial skills. Further and additional support is needed for all of the projects. Volunteers with suitable skills are invited to contact me to join the team.
Donate, volunteer or help in 2023?
If you can donate funds or resources (such as books, book shelves or laptop computers) to any of the particular projects on this page, please contact me. You can send me a cheque made out to Michael Nugent (Zambia) by post or you can donate by credit card by clicking on the “Donate by Credit Card” link on the right of this page.
If you want to volunteer to come to Zambia – send me an email.
Please look around my website and take your time to browse.