St Mary’s Ascot pupils speak about their Zambia visit with CAFOD

Two pupils from St Mary’s Ascot recently visited Zambia with CAFOD where they met families and communities who are benefiting from our work in the area.

Following a successful charity dinner at St Mary’s Ascot last year, which raised £45,000 for CAFOD’s From Poverty to Opportunity Campaign, the girls were chosen to go to Zambia to see how their funds would make a difference in the country. We spoke to the girls before they left, you can read that blog post here.

During the visit to Zambia the girls met with one of our partners, Sister Mary of the St Francis Integrated Care agency, whose work providing help and support to disabled people and people living with HIV. St Francis Integrated Care is one of the main organisation in Zambia which provides this type of support to help locals establish and maintain livelihoods. The girls saw first-hand how the community benefitted from gardening plots and teaching on how to care for animals.

We caught up with the girls after the visit, which took place in January, to find out what they learned from the experience.

Here’s what they had to say: “I really understand how much CAFOD helps now that I have experienced first-hand the problems in Zambia. I think ‘From Poverty to Opportunity’ is such a great project and I shall be definitely doing more in my school to raise money for CAFOD. I realised how the money we give helps to ensure people living with HIV get the medication they need, and sets them on the road to recovery.”

The girls visited CAFOD projects which work with children and young people affected by HIV and AIDS. Meeting and playing with the children is something that they both really enjoyed.

“I loved taking part in the children’s corner; I loved playing their version of Simon says!”

“It was an incredible experience, we were able to see so much in such a short space of time and we learnt a lot on the trip. I enjoyed meeting the locals and children and being able to talk to them. We met a lady who had been paralysed in bed for a long time with TB in the spine. She was now well enough to be working in the fields. It was very interesting to see how much CAFOD had helped her and many others like her.”

Before taking the trip the girls both had some understanding of what they would witness, but they were still surprised by a number of things, in particular witnessing such extreme poverty.

“I didn’t realise how many children our age had to care for their families, for example, if their parents were gone. Visiting the urban slums was an incredibly hard experience, especially as it was our first day. I am glad we saw it, but I found it incredibly challenging.”

Throughout their visit, the girls kept a daily video diary and blogged about their experiences which they presented to their school as part of a special assembly.

This is the first time that young people have visited an area as part of our From Poverty to Opportunity campaign, which aims to raise £10 million to transform the lives of some of the world’s poorest people in The Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and Zambia.

To find out more about our From Poverty to Opportunity campaign click here.

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