By Chris O’Donoghue
I couldn’t imagine it…standing with Gerry and Catherine from SERVE on a site 10k outside the City of Beira with Raj and Dorien from Young Africa listening to them talk about their plans. They spoke of the blocks for light and heavy industry, the camp site for volunteer groups, the hostel for vulnerable young people to come and stay while getting their training, the sports facilities and numerous other dreams. All I saw was mango trees and termite mounds, I just couldn’t visualise it, and then when they said it would probably need around €3 Million to fund It I think I just zoned out!! But here I am 10 years 11 months later ( and older ) and its incredible to witness the hive of activity on the campus.
How did it happen ? How did we achieve this and so much more ? what was SERVE’s role in all of this ? Partnership – for me this is the difference between being just a financial donor and being a partner. The SERVE footprint on the campus is hard to miss, whether it’s the Irish Aid funded hostel which is full of young men and women who are able to access an education by having somewhere safe to stay to complete the studies, or the creche which St. Bride’s parish in Belfast funded and help build, where women
and men are able to drop off their children before going off to work or attending their training programme. Or my bedroom for the week which was built with the first SERVE volunteer group to Mozambique back in 2008 which I had the pleasure of being part of. These long term volunteer blocks have allowed Young Africa to attract people from all over Africa and beyond to come and stay and share their skills and experience. They have been a huge asset for Young Africa. And that’s just some of the physical contribution. Schools from Belfast and Dublin, short term volunteer groups from all over Ireland since 2008 & six long term volunteers from SERVE have left their footprint in some way thus making sure the partnership between SERVE and Young Africa continues to produce good development results and is done in respectful and mutually beneficial way.
And above all this there is the young Mozambicans who day after day come here to learn and grow and take advantages of this unique place. Their stories are the real success and what they have done to be part of transforming their country and turning it into one of the success stories of the last few decades is a privilege to be part of.
Having my dinner in Magcio tonight with Manosso, we will toast a Manica to all the incredible SERVE volunteers and the team who have played their part in making this partnership what it is today – inspirational.
Chris O’Donoghue is in Beira delivering youth work training with the Young Africa team as part of the SERVE Erasmus + programme.