By Gaisce Coordinator Michelle Murray
In 2002, Mary Chidgey, a former KH nurse, while living in Zambia asked the Gaisce students to raise some money for a local charity school established by Trojart Hartmann, a German Lutheran missionary. The school was located in the local shanty town Makalulu on the outskirts of Kabwe. It was, at the time, the largest shanty town north of Soweto. The school educates, medicates, clothes and feeds the children. We embarked on what would be a hugely successful project, raising thousands of euro.
We employed local men and doubled the capacity of the school, built a toilet block and sank a well. Prior to sinking the well the school would close during a cholera outbreaks. The well meant there was clean water for the whole community. Our fundraising was so successful (Celtic Tiger days!) that we were able to build two more country schools and sink two more wells.
On a further trip in 2006 we built Chilillila Centre, a preschool for vulnerable children, with aids testing and counselling rooms for the community. This was also the base for our community outreach programme.
By now Mary had established Ranchhod Hospice; Mary felt strongly that people should be able to die with dignity. In many instances people who were very ill would come to the hospice, but on receiving nourishing food and medical treatment would improve significantly and return to their families for a number of months before ultimately returning to the hospice.
The Busy Bees grandmothers group was set up. These grandmothers were raising their Aids-orphaned grandchildren. In other initiatives KH funded Singer sewing machines and the Busy Bees make items to sell at the market. We bought piglets and a sausage-making machine (yes!), beads to make Zulu bead items, a peanut butter making machine to sell peanut butter at the market and seeds to grow vegetables. All profits are used to buy food for their families.
Running parallel to these initiatives, another project, Sables, had been established to take young homeless children off the streets and give them a vocational education.
Mary has been constantly looking for support and doing fundraising. Pat Fanning, the former principal in St Joseph’s Fairview, on retiring, got on board and became heavily involved to reinvigorate the Sables Project. He has established a secondary school this January with 25 first year students. See attached photo of the children all wearing KH blue shirts and grey flannels generously donated by the Parents' Association second-hand uniform sale.
This trip that the students and staff are undertaking in the Spring 2020 will be an immersion project for them where they work with and spend time with the children. Our main aim is to raise money to sustain the project and provide a future for village residents. The teaching staff are local, qualified teachers who earn a minimal wage. No money is lost in translation.
There will be many fundraising initiatives held in the coming year and we look forward to the continued support of staff, parents, students and past pupils.
The Gaisce students associated with the project are:
Emily-Ruth Brennan, Cressida Campion, Aideen Carmody, Cara Conlon, Caroline Doran, Rebecca Doyle, Alex Heyward–Jones, Ellie Lazzarini, Ciara Murray, Aimee Tobin, Aindriú Tucker
Stewarts Hospital, Palmerstown
For over 30 years, the school has enjoyed a close relationship with the local Stewart’s Hospital in Palmerstown, which has been providing services to those with intellectual disabilities just since 1869.
Transition Year students visit Stewart’s Hospital weekly to engage with the service users and help out the staff.
Pupils participate with great enthusiasm – and success – in the Stewart’s annual Flag Day, which has regularly raised an impressive four-figure sum.
The King's Hospital School Chapel Choir is delighted to entertain staff and clients every December in Stewart's Hospital for their annual Christmas Carol Service.
In addition to its Stewart’s Hospital links, the school fundraises for many other charitable causes, running fashion shows, talent shows, concerts, non-uniform days, bake sales, balls and firewalks.