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We are delighted to share this beautiful piece from early year’s tutor, Helen Flaherty

We are delighted to share this piece from one of our early year’s tutors, Helen Flaherty.  Helens background is in early years completing a one year childcare course in Portobello Institute in the early 1990s. She also trained as a special needs assistant and worked in main stream schools and as a tutor in Portobello Institute.

She shares her story as part of a bigger picture of the work that goes on in Zambia after another return home in May. Helen had spent six and a half years working as a lay missionary from 2009 until 2015, working on 5 different projects across two Orphanages, a Special School, and 2 adult training centres.

A 10 hour flight took Helen back to Zambia, where she was welcomed by one of sisters of the Congregation of the Immaculate Conception she had previously worked with. “The sisters told me to consider it my home and to stay as long as I liked while on holidays. I consider Zambia my second home”.

"Home of Joy" in the grounds of "Marian Shrine" was the first stop where Helen had worked and lived for two years.  During Helen’s time there she assisted the Sisters in Charge, the House Mothers, taught the Children English and helped them with home works.  The older children were gifted with knitting needles and were asked to choose their own colour wool.  Some knitted scarves, others knitted shoulder bags and every girl was given a hair band.

“I was absolutely delighted to see one of the projects I had worked on and see how it had developed.  In the grounds of the project is the CIC Novitiate and a Convent, a School and Computer Centre. There is also a church and beautiful grounds throughout”.

“Most of my stay was on the grounds of the CIC St Joseph’s college, Lusaka west”. On the 5th May the CIC Sisters celebrated a very special day, which was their Silver Jubilee with 25 years in Zambia.  They had sisters from India and many who had travelled from around Zambia to celebrate this occasion.  “It was lovely for me to be once again part of their celebrations”. 

Every year about 15 of the girls from Home of Joy are chosen to sing the "Irish National Anthem" and the Zambian National Anthem" in the Irish Ambassadors Residence on "St. Patricks Day". This is a very special event for the girls and the CIC Sisters and Helen helped the girls to learn the Irish National Athem.

Another project to note was the "Sunflower Family Centre" which was set up by Fr. Pierre from Belgium about 12 years ago.   “When I arrived the girls screamed with delight and spending time with the children and Fr. Pierre playing my bodhran with the drummers was just magic”.

The next visit was to “Bauleni Special School” where Helen had previously taught creative and technology studies to 90 children with different special needs from pre-school upwards.  “I did lots of art and music with the students and they loved the subject as it was very hands on and I had tailored each activity to their abilities”.  Helen also supported the teachers to display every child’s great work on the walls in the hall and in the classrooms. 

Helen also took a quick and enjoyable trip to Kabwe town to visit “a Jesuit Priest I met 3 years ago who wanted to introduce me to one of the projects under his care.  This project looks after 20 children who all enjoyed a dance and some music with the bodhran.

Helen had one more person to see once again before she left and that was her good friend whom she enjoyed a lovely lunch with.   As she was leaving for Ireland the next day Helen felt it was important to visit each of the children and House Mothers in the Home of Joy project before her departure home.

Four of the CIC sisters went to the airport to bid a farewell and Helen would like to take this opportunity to thank both her family and friends in Ireland and Zambia for a very special trip.

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