African trip a success

Six local teachers have returned from Zambia with a renewed commitment to helping children learn.

The teachers from Campbelltown’s St John the Evangelist Catholic Parish Primary School were joined by several colleagues from the Wollongong Catholic Education Office and two Edmondson Park residents on the trip to teach underprivileged Zambian children during the school holiday period.

The mission was organised by St John’s Sarah Selwood, from Bow Bowing, who had previously visited the country and been inspired by its people.

This time around the teachers delivered a donation of funds, stationery goods and hand-made dresses, and spent time engaging with the children.

“No words can describe the appreciation and open-mindedness we now have for the needs of children and the varying lifestyles on the other side of the world,” she said.

“There were tears of joy, happiness and absolute awe. There were moments full of laughter, pride and pure appreciation. To know that through this experience others have been called to do the same is even greater.”

The group – which included people from Ruse, Gregory Hills, Narellan Vale, Bradbury, Spring Farm and Camden – spent their mornings at either Mary Mother of God Primary School or St Antanazio Primary and Secondary School, while their afternoons were all about “playing and interacting with the children of the Cheshire Home, a home where go to receive therapy for their disabilities”.

These disabilities include clubfoot and hip displacement, which Ms Selwood said are usually fixed at birth in Australia. 

The teacher said she was extremely proud of the work the group had accomplished and hoped to return to Zambia soon.

“I’m incredibly proud, there is no greater gift in life than knowing that you are living the ministry of Christ,” she said.

“To live our purpose is to give our gift to others. Living in the moment and experiencing life, faith and justice were huge aspects of the trip that allowed us to identify our gifts and remind us of our purpose.

“I loved hearing the children say ‘I’ve never seen Henry smile so much’ or the listening intently and behaving beautifully the second you set foot in the classroom, touching our skin and hair and being so filled with joy because we let them touch our hair and skin.”

Ms Selwood said the group “embraced the stories of the villages, the students, the teachers and the schools” and learnt “a wealth of knowledge and tricks that can be implemented into our classrooms and school”.

“If the timing was right, I could easily live and work there.”