Living abroad as a volunteer in Zambia

Lumi, Anne and Eoin – our first Development volunteer team. Now when they’re back at home, we will look back how was their experience to volunteer in Zambia. Being on the other side of the world, living in a community, being without electricity and water for 5 days. Let’s see what they were up to!

volunteer in Zambia

Volunteer in Zambia

Our team arrived to Ndola on the 6th of November. For the first few days we had some introduction meetings at NHQ in Ndola.

Together with Blessings from NHQ and Steven from DNS, we worked with the book of practicalities. Included was an introduction to the different projects of DAPP and details about our daily life and work at DNS Mkushi.

We arrived in Mkushi on Friday the 8th of November. The following days were dedicated to the introduction of the DNS campus and its surroundings. As well as to the staff members and students of the college.

Development volunteer in Zambia

Our team had a lot of meetings with the staff members from all the different departments of the school. We talked to the responsibles for sports, production and library and many more. This helped us a lot to get to know the people.

Also how the school operates. We were also invited to participate in the weekly teachers meetings, so we were part of the discussions about the issues concerning the school.

In our first week we went to Mkushi town. We were presented to the district commissioner and other important district authorities. When we had our trips to town we also got to know the local markets, the stores where we can buy food and visited the DAPP shop.

5 days without water and electricity

Since our team is used to a different kind of life in Europe, we needed to learn a lot of new skills when we arrived to Zambia. We learned how to wash our clothes by hand without a washing machine and how to cook our food over the fire.

The food in Zambia is very different from home, so we were able to taste a lot of unknown dishes. Nshima became our daily companion and we tried pumpkin leaves and cassava for the first time.

Due to really little access to electricity and water for five days, we learned how to find balance between no water and no power. We were still able to do all the tasks in the house like cooking food and wash the dishes.

Participation in daily life at school

As part of the staff we didn’t only work on our projects but participated in daily life at the college as well. We took part in the sports activities, played football, volleyball and netball with students and staff members.

Eoin became part of the school’s football team and took part in a football match against a local team from town.

volunteering in zambia

Rainy season arrived to Zambia when we came here and with it a lot of work in the fields. The college is producing its own food and the beginning of the rainy season is the perfect time to start planting and working in the fields.

Therefore our man power was needed to help the students with planting maize seeds, applying fertilizer and weeding the field. We also cleared cut down trees from the field to make way for more planting of seeds and learned how to plough a field traditionally with cattles.

Exam period. And we had a opportunity to supervise.

At the time our team arrived to Mkushi the students were occupied with writing their exams. Until then we hadn’t experienced an ordinary school day at the college yet. We still participated in the school life; both Eoin and Anne had the opportunity to supervise the students during their exams.

The exams were not only theoretically, but also included practical parts. One of the practical exams was a presentation of traditional dancing. The students showed our team how to dance the traditional dance.

We learned a lot about the tradition in Zambia. We got to know what a Chitenge is and gained knowledge about the different tribes and languages in Zambia. Additionally our team took charge of the morning duties for two days to ensure the students were attending to their areas of responsibility before going on vacation.

Living abroad as a volunteer in Zambia 1

In the beginning we were asking one same question to everyone, to students and staff members: “What, in your opinion, should be improved at the school?” and tried to figure out which problems the school is facing. After some time there was a long list of things which could be improved here.

Putting our ideas into action

Table Project

Whenever we had meetings we gathered at a big blue table outside the DIs House. Not only us but everyone, both students and staff members enjoyed sitting there. The surrounding area of the blue table isn’t in use, so we decided to build even more tables there. The students didn’t have a lot of possibilities, when it came to sitting outside. 

We were asked by NHQ to come up with a plan for a Building Week between Christmas and New Year’s. We decided to make the building of the tables our project for that period.

Together with the maintenance team we started working on a budget for the project and located where the tables would fit best in the area. Eoin created a ground plan on which all the details of the project can be seen. 

First steps of the project were already done. Together with the students we used our man power and leveled the ground and removed some shrubs in the area. With the staff members we planted some shrubs and started to create a ditch.

For the week between Christmas and New Year’s we were going to have some visitors. All the other DIs, who are working in Zambia came to Mkushi. They were going to help us build the tables and landscape the area, so that the students would have a new social area when they come back to school.

Sports Equipment from Ireland

While taking part in different sports activities at the school we quickly recognized that some of the used equipment needed to be replaced, like the volleyball net for instance. Or the needed equipment isn’t available at all; football jerseys and shoes as well as balls and nets are missing.

In our study period in Norway each of us decided on specific job areas.

Eoin was working in partnership. So he looked into possibilities on how partnerships can help to get equipment from his home country Ireland to Zambia. He reached out to schools, sports clubs and organisations in Ireland to get donations of sport equipment.

Initially he was trying to get one full luggage of equipment, but the response to his request was incredible. A lot of people were so kind and generous to donate something. There were two full bags of luggage coming to Zambia.

One of the bags was picked up in Chipata by Eoin and the other arrived with our teacher in January. Until then we built a little room, where the equipment can be stored in.

The situation with the storage wasn’t ideal. The room was really moist, so the sports gear will not last very long. In order to change this we created a new place where people can access the equipment.

Drip irrigation

Back in Norway, Lumi decided to work sports as well as the maintenance of the college.

Living abroad as a volunteer in Zambia 2

During meetings with the production team, she found out that the production needs a drip irrigation system, which will help to water the plants. This will save lot of water. There will be no grass growing around since the only the plant will get water and less fertilizer needs to be applied.

Lumi looked into the costs of this project really carefully. She visited farming shops in Mkushi and got quotations from farmers, who are already working with a drip irrigation system.

In the end she got a manageable estimated price on the system. As soon as we managed to get some funds for the project, we were be able to finish the pan, get the needed materials and build the drip irrigation system.

Solar panels

Due to climate change, the college is facing a lot of power cuts, especially in the hot and dry season. Anne came up with the idea of installing solar panels at the college, so that electricity can be provided at all times and the power cuts will not disturb the daily life at the college.

Living abroad as a volunteer in Zambia 3

She was mostly looking into installing a special solar powered water pump. The water pump was connected to the public grid. When power cuts, there will be no water after some time as well.

There were issues with the pump that needed to be fixed. The pump didn’t work at night and needed to be a guaranteed that the sun provides enough energy to pump all the needed water. As soon as we had the answers, Anne looked into ways of getting the needed money or partnership for the solar powered pump.

And many more

Anne had been working on a big task of uploading the needed materials on DmM. At the same time we were looking into building a basketball court.

We are implementing new kinds of sports for the new term at the school, like rugby for instance, so that there is a bigger variety of activities and all the students can participate, when there are sports events.


In order to be able to realize all the ideas and projects we had, we needed some financial support. We decided to reach out to people from home and raise some money we can use for our projects.

For our fundraising we used the website on which we tried to raise as much money as possible for some weeks.

Living abroad as a volunteer in Zambia 4

Our first few weeks there were mostly about getting to know the place, the people, the culture and the problems the school is facing.

We can say that we are much more familiar with everything now and got to know a lot of potential projects. The following weeks we worked on realizing all the projects and raising funds for the development at the school.

Lumi, Anne, Eoin DV19

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BTP period – 3 months

Returning to school with heads and hands full of new knowledge and energy for Bringing it to the Public. Meeting with the team, showing, telling, exchanging experiences and making it common knowledge.

Producing articles, pamphlets, videos, presentations, exhibitions, speeches for debate forums, books and more. Studying further the curriculum in Fighting with The Poor, bringing the truth to the public. 

Going to different schools around Europe to spread the new knowledge in various creative ways – speeches, newspaper articles, lectures at universities and colleges, debates and other public events, exhibitions – leading to a better understanding and inspiring to take an action.

Passing the final exams in Fighting with The Poor. Using the last months together to conclude our future perspectives and possible ways of improving The Poor’s quality in life with humble ways of sharing knowledge.

Volunteer period – 6 months

The Project Work in Africa or India in cooperation with Humana People to People. In this period, you can work at:

  • Teacher training colleges
  • Educating teachers for rural areas
  • Vocational schools for young people
  • Schools for street children.Preschools
  • Sanitation and hygiene in rural areas
  • Tree planting campaigns
  • Raising funds for social projects by forming partnerships and selling second hand clothes and shoes
  • Stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS (following the program TCE/Total Control of the Epidemic)

Arriving at the project in Africa or India, having left behind a courageous journey where fundamental human capabilities have been turned around, refreshed and energised by knowing that things such as travelling can be done in a totally different way than the mainstream tourist travelling.

Ready for doing the work needed at the project, bringing plans and materials from the previous periods. Getting to know the people at the project, the vision and idea of the project and the many concrete tasks to be carried out.

Carrying out the tasks as defined within the necessities of the project and by the Project Leadership. Fighting shoulder to shoulder with The Poor: building preschools, starting Garden Farming, doing literacy campaigns, eradicating malaria, teaching about big issues of our time while working as a teacher at DNS, starting income-generating activities, working as a TCE Special Force in the fight against HIV/AIDS – as a few examples.

Studying and working with your Specialisation in Fighting with The Poor, finalising with a People’s Exam and a written thesis at the end of the period. Acquiring skills in information work: making interviews, taking notes and pictures, writing summaries and reports, recording videos.

Living together with the people at the project, being a good example of living a humble life while improving things with small means to make daily life better.

Travel period – 3 months

Living on the road, being on the move, finding means of transport and places to sleep, talking to people on the road, being curious to understand and know about the countries you are traveling through.

Making investigations, meeting people, visiting their workplaces, staying in their homes, understanding their problems, meeting their culture and values and sharing thoughts with them about the world and the future.

Telling people about your venture to a third world country, trying out bringing it to the public what you have so far experienced and learned. Putting up investigations on a higher level, asking tough questions to self and to the group, getting hold of more answers and putting up new questions.

Taking notes and pictures, writing reports and discussing the seen and the experienced.
Finding good ways of sticking together in the Trios and in the group as such during the travel period.

Study Period – 6 months

At this school, you will find that learning is not first and foremost about listening to the teacher.

The school’s Program consists of a range of intense and spirited activities, theoretical studies and experiences that constitute the sum of learning and life processes carried through by a group of people who for a considerable period of time share a Program with each other that demands cooperation and efforts, and which at the same time is sprinkled with elements that are inspiring and also quite out of the ordinary.

Thus, learning will also take place through communication, deliberations, through working out your plan for learning and sticking to it, and putting to use what you learned, the methods you used, the ideas you got from it and the results you harvested from the training.

You will train yourself in being adventurers and survivors, living and traveling under very humble conditions, not using much money and always finding a way out by ingenuity, being smart and sticking together with your teammates.