Zambian community centre funded by Tyrone donations ‘will enhance many lives’

Donations from Tyrone have funded a vital new community centre in Lusaka, Zambia, which opened on Saturday
Donations from Tyrone have funded a vital new community centre in Lusaka, Zambia, which opened on Saturday

By Conor Sharkey, in Lusaka

A ZAMBIAN community centre paid for and built by the people of Tyrone will enhance lives for many generations to come, a Catholic women’s group who use it has said.

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On Saturday, hundreds of people gathered in the country’s capital city, Lusaka, to see St Theresa’s Community Centre officially blessed and opened. Among those speaking at the event was the Arch Bishop of Lusaka, Telesphore George Mpundu, and Fr James O’Kane, the Omagh priest who worked as project director on the new parish centre.

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Euphemia Chambolo is part of the Catholic Women’s League that regularly uses the centre for meetings and to pray. She said they owed a great debt of gratitude to the people of Ireland and said they would always be in their prayers.

Ms Chambolo told the TyroneHerald, “It is a centre, yes, but it is also the centre of what we do. It gives us somewhere to congregate, to pray and to share ideas. It has improved the standards of this environment and it has added so much value to all our lives. Many people who come to this area have been admiring it so it also gives us a sense of pride. It brings us together so while it is a community centre, it is also the centre of this area now.”

Work on St Theresa’s began seven years through the Omagh-based Paul McGirr Foundation. The late Paul’s brother Michael was in Lusaka on Saturday to see the ribbon cut on St Theresa’s. The Foundation has already begun work to extend the St Theresa’s by building a training centre. It will teach young people in Lusaka skills that will help them to become mechanics, joiners and other trades.

Ms Chambolo continued, “Skills development is very important and adds value to human life for everyone. The young people are going to be able to learn these skills and they will help them become economically empowered. They are the future of our church and it is important they have life skills when they are growing up.”

The Paul McGirr Foundation has been the lightening rod for amazing changes in one of Lusaka’s poorest regions. And those who use St Theresa’s say they will be forever grateful. “Without the people of Ireland we would not have reached this level and we thank them and put them in our prayers. They have done a tremendous job in identifying this area and giving us this wonderful community centre. All those have had a hand in building it and those back in Ireland who we have never met, we continue to bless them. We also offer a special prayer to the SMA and thank you all so much for having the heart to come and help us and hopefully this relationship can continue years after today,” Ms Chambolo added.

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