St. Paul’s College in Ambo, Ethiopia

St Paul’s College has been working with the Vincentian Lay Missionaries in Ethiopia since 2009. Each year, with the exception of 2014 and 2015, a group of 5th year students and staff members has travelled to Ambo, a university town located 120kms west of the capital Addis Ababa.

While there, a summer school is organised by the Ambo Vincentian community to cater for local students who want to improve their English language and Maths skills. The local students are organised into three age categories, catering for students from 5 years of age to about 18. The teachers then teach the groups while the students assist in the classroom. Morning and afternoon classes are organised. Later in the afternoon, weather permitting, a sports programme is run.

The Schools Immersion Programme is the flagship programme organised by the VLM. The students and staff are in Ethiopia for 2 and a half weeks in June. Each participant raises funds for the flights, accommodation, inoculations, visa, insurance etc. The fundraising also allows us to bring an abundance of school supplies with us.

In 2012, the Irish Ambassador to Ethiopia officially opened the Ambo School For The Deaf. This new facility is located opposite the community compound. The school has been helped financially by the fundraising efforts of our staff and students over several years. Over the past few years the number of deaf students attending has steadily increased. This year our students were assisting in the school, while at the same time learning sign language. Materials for the school are also brought over.

Fr Asfaw Fekele, the Vincentian priest in the community, started a programme a number of years ago to help the most needy and destitute in Ambo. This programme helps to house as many of these people as possible. As with the school for the deaf, contributions from St. Paul’s’ fundraising efforts has helped Fr Asfaw in this venture.

Lourdes Diocesan Trip

My name is Evan and I’m currently a 6th year student attending St. Pauls’ College, Raheny. This year I was fortunate enough to be chosen to represent the school, along with 3 other students, on the annual Dublin Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes. Although I think it is impossible to sum up the experience of Lourdes in just a handful of sentences, I hope to do it some justice!

Lourdes is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. I was given the unique opportunity to meet all sorts of new people in such a wondrous place, and to experience a side of life I never had before. I was constantly in awe of everything around me – from the location, to the atmosphere, to even just the characters I met. There was never a dull moment and, although we held a pretty busy schedule, I never once felt like I was
doing any ‘work’. In fact, I found myself volunteering to do even more without a giving it a second thought!

Each day I found myself falling more and more under the spell of Lourdes. I understood the deep respect that visitors have for this spiritual place, but never could have anticipated what it was like or how much fun it was going to be, and I never expected to come away with such a different out look on things. I now share unique bond with each of the team members and I made friends in Lourdes that I will have for life. Everyone of us received so much more compared to what we gave and, no matter who you ask, we will all say the same thing: we would go again in a heartbeat!

The Pilgrimage was an incredibly humbling experience and one which I am forever grateful to have had in my final year in St. Paul’s.