South Africa

Long Term Volunteering

Friends Of Africa have had one Long Term Volunteer in South Africa. Bernie Connolly, a primary school teacher, spent two years in 2008-09 teaching English and working as an in-service teacher trainer in Holy Family Primary School, Mogwase, an SMA parish in the diocese of Rustenburg. During her time there and with the help of Friends of Africa, Bernie opened the first school library in the local area. This has proved to be extremely beneficial in furthering the academic achievements of the children.

Short Term Volunteering

Friends of Africa have had a group of Short Term Volunteers in South Africa for six weeks each summer since 2007. The volunteers have been involved in some of the following projects:

Building and Renovation Projects

Our volunteers have been involved in a number of building and renovation projects over the years, including the building of a pastoral centre in Zeerust, the renovation of a creche in Zeerust and the building of a chapel on the outskirts of Rustenburg.

The pastoral centre is a place where the local community can come for classes, much needed medication, and training in new skills. The centre has also been extended to include accommodation for new members of staff, who provide training in language and culture.

Our volunteers working on the creche renovation were involved in laying new carpets, painting walls and improving the outdoor playground and our volunteers involved in the building of the new church worked with the local community, painting, designing murals and preparing the church.

Tlokweng Summer Camp

In 2011, Friends of Africa began a new camp in the parish of Tlokweng. At the camp, the local children were taught in summer schools during their holidays about the sacraments. They also took part in games and sports. The camps were fun, enjoyable and of great benefit to the local people.

Lesadi Parish

The South Africa group of 2017 were based in Lesadi parish in the North-West province. ‘Lesadi’ means ‘light’ in Setswana. There were a total of seven villages in the parish and the group were lucky enough to be involved in many different projects. During their first weekend in South Africa they spent time at a YES retreat (Youth Encounter Spirit). During the two days, many young people from Lesadi parish as well as two neighbouring parishes came together with the FOA Volunteers to celebrate and reflect on our faith through song, dance, drama and prayer. It was a fantastic opportunity for us to meet people our own age and to learn about their experiences of growing up in South Africa. While they were in SA, a new chapel was being built in the parish. The group spent several days working on the new build and at the end of our time in South Africa, they were invited to a blessing of the new church by the Bishop. They felt it was a very special occasion and it was amazing to see how happy and thankful the local people were for their modest new chapel. They spent one week running a summer camp for the children of Lesadi. This involved lots of singing, dancing and games and both the kids and the volunteers thoroughly enjoyed it! They rounded off the week with a sports day and a concert and all the children were given the opportunity to showcase their talents. Our FOA volunteers will cherish the memories we made during this week spent with the children forever. Fr Noel, the SMA Father that the volunteers were staying with, was organising a pilgrimage for the final weekend of our trip. The pilgrimage was to be held in the beautiful ‘Vleeschfontein’, the place from which Catholicism began with modest beginnings in South Africa. Vleeschfontein is set in the middle of Madikwe game reserve and it is quite simply unbelievable for our volunteers to see giraffes, elephants and zebras just mere metres from a watering hole while the volunteers were working! The group spent several weekends in Vleesch, working alongside the youth of the parish to prepare the place for the pilgrimage. This mostly involved cleaning and painting. They cooked and ate with the local people and spent every night singing and laughing around the camp fire. In preparation for both the summer camp and the pilgrimage, they visited many Catholic families in their homes to get to know the people better. The people welcomed the volunteers all warmly into their homes and shared tea, stories and prayers with them. The pilgrimage itself was a fantastic occasion for our volunteers. Thousands of people of all ages came to pay their respects at the shrines and to receive the blessed sacrament. It was a hot, dry day and many of the animals came to see what all the fuss was about! The budding medics in our group spent several days working in the clinic of the ‘Siza’ squatter camp. Thousands of people live in rundown conditions in the hope of finding work in the nearby mines. They survive with little water and the majority of the children do not attend school. Later, the whole group visited the camp and spent time with the children in the crèche

Check out 2014 Short Term Volunteer Beth Bradley’s account of her six weeks volunteering for further insight into the experience of volunteering in South Africa!


In 2007, Fr John Gallagher (SMA) asked Friends of Africa to help him run a Tuition Camp for young Maasai boys and girls in his parish of Moita, Bwawanni. Our short term volunteers had been working on this project every summer since 2008, spending 6 weeks providing intensive coaching to these Masai children in preparation for their exams. Friends of Africa left the area in the summer of 2014, through fundraising initiatives Friends of Africa have helped to build classrooms and all-weather basketball and bolleyball courts, thus improving the facilities for the primary and secondary schools in the area.

Since 2015, the Tanzania group spent time with the SMA Regional superior in Mwanza City. They visit SMA supported street children rehabilitation projects such as Upendo Daima (Unconditional Love) and the Lu-Lu (Pearl) Project together as a team on arrival. Then the Tanzania team is split into two groups to work on projects based in different parishes


Ngudu is roughly 2 and a half hours from Mwanza where the regional house is based. There are currently two priests in Ngudu, Fr. John Kilcoyne (Co.Mayo) and Fr. Ratchahar (Indian). The project in Ngudu is a summer camp which runs for approximately 4 weeks with the same children present for all 4 weeks. The children attending the camp will be from Ngudu and its surrounding parish Mwabagole. The main focus of the camp is to teach spoken English to local primary and secondary school children. The levels of English vary greatly within the class and topics will range from feelings and emotions to verbs and grammar. As well as teaching the camp involves sport in the afternoon. The children are split into teams for sport which they will remain in for the four weeks, with finals being played on the last week.


Mwandoya is a further 3 hours from Ngudu and roughly 5/6 hours from Mwanza. There are currently three priest in Mwandoya, Fr. Josephat (Kenyan), Fr Mick McKee (Tyrone) and Fr. John (French-Canadian) There is two camps the volunteers are involved in Mwandoya. TYCS Camp is for children aged 11-18, which is Form 1-5 in school in Tanzania. Classes will vary in ability and the volunteers teach English and Catechism. The campers are split into teams for sports which they stay in for the duration of the camp. A sports league is then carried out for netball, soccer and volleyball with finals being completed on the last day of camp. During Youth Camp which is for individuals aged over 18, the typical age range is 18-35 years old, outside facilitators come in to assist in the running of the camp. The volunteers continue to teach English and Catechism and help the facilitators on seminars of sex education, life skills and soap making. Mwandoya have recently received a number of computers and sewing machines which are located in the classrooms. FOA volunteers will be helping teach those attending youth camp basic ICT skills using the computers available.

When volunteers in both areas are are not scheduled to teach or help in seminars they are attending daily mass in local outstations, visiting local people in their homes and enjoying celebrations by sharing meals. Both groups have been involved in paint work and landscaping as whole group projects.

Outline of FOA Tuition Camp in Tanzania

7.00 – Morning Mass (usually in pairs)

9.00-12.30pm – Teaching

LUNCH – for volunteers and camp children

2-4pm – Sports including soccer, volleyball, netball, dodgeball and football tennis

4.30pm – Mandazi and chai (kids from Ngudu go home at this time and kids from Mwabagole/Mwandoya will stay over night)


After Supper (8.30/9) – Evening entertainment with kids who are staying overnight (typical activities include Zumba, culture evenings and Pictionary)



Friends of Africa have had at least one Long Term Volunteer in Zambia for many years since we began working there in 1998 up until 2014. Over the years our volunteers have been involved in a number of different projects, including building and also street children projects.

Short Term Volunteering

Friends of Africa have had a group of Short Term Volunteers in Zambia for six weeks each summer since 2001. In recent years our volunteers have been heavily involved in a number of projects in Kitwe and also in Ndola.

Friends Of The Street Children Shelter, Kwama

Friends of Africa work alongside a local charity, Friends of the Street Children (FSC), to provide support and care to street kids in Kitwe. There are three main programmes to respond to the needs of the children in FSC - Street Outreach, Rehabilitation and Reintegration. In some cases children have been happily reintegrated into family life. Many children however, are unable to return home and they receive care and rehabilitation in the Friends of the Street Children shelter. At the shelter the children attended classes, play sport and learn skills that will help them to live on their own or reintegrate with their families. The short-term volunteers spend their days here at the shelter, teaching the children, helping out with chores such as tending to the vegetable gardens and they also spend time playing sports and other games with them.

St Anthony’s Orphanage

Short-term volunteers also get the opportunity to spend time in an orphanage in Ndola. Our volunteers provide entertainment in the form of games for the young children, as well as providing affection and taking care of the young babies. St. Anthony’s Orphanage contains a disability unit in which many of the children are physically unable to function. The volunteers are given the chance to interact with these children, playing and feeding them on a day-to-day basis.

Chipulukusu Primary School

For the past number of years, short-term volunteers have also spent time in Chipulukusu in Ndola, teaching a range of subjects to primary school children. The children are very eager to learn and it makes the teaching even more enjoyable!

Check out 2013 Short Term Volunteer Megan McCullagh’s ‘My African Journey’ video in the ‘Gallery’ section of our website for a further insight into the experience of volunteering in Zambia!



The Apostolic Vicariate of Kontagora is one the 55 dioceses of the Catholic Church in Nigeria which serve a Catholic population of about 25 million. The setting up of this young jurisdiction was announced from the Vatican in Dec. 1995 and inaugurated on 16th March 1996. The SMA Fathers were given the primary responsibility for the growth and development of this new diocese-in-the-making assisted by other missionary societies and congregations of sisters. Under the leadership of Bishop Tim Carroll the SMA a local clergy was built up gradually and new parishes opened up, new schools and clinics were built, well digging programmes carried out to provide clean water for villagers. Bishop Tim had to resign due to ill health and return to Ireland in April 2010. For the next two years Fr. Dan McCauley SMA administered the Vicariate until a new bishop was chosen.

On 2nd May 2012 Fr. Bulus Yohanna was ordained the new Bishop of Kontagora. This event marked a new phase of the growth of the Church in Kontagora – it was now in the hands of the local people. The missionaries continued to work there under the direction of an African bishop and in cooperation with a growing body of African priests and religious sisters. From May 2012 to date (Mar. 2017) Bishop Bulus has been forging ahead with the work begun by the SMA Fathers i.e. primary and secondary evangelisation, education, health, justice, development and peace programmes etc.

St Theresa’s Parish, GALADIMA In 1996 the Vicariate began with 7 parishes all taken from 3 surrounding dioceses. As of March 2017 this number has grown to 17 parishes. One of these is St. Theresa’s Parish, Galadima. It is in this parish that St. Gregory’s Primary School is located. The parish is vast rural area inhabited by subsistence farmers living in small hamlets and villages. The few government schools there are of poor quality. Hence the need for a well run school provided by the church. Funds were sought and received from the Vicariate, SMA Ireland and a group in Basel, Switzerland and a beginning was made in 2011 under the direction of Fr. Everest Yero the hardworking young Nigerian parish priest.

Fr. Everest played a vital role in the establishment of St. Gregory’s School e.g. mobilising local people to support the project, acquiring land, obtaining the necessary permits from local government (planning and education), overseeing construction, recruitment and employment of teachers and other staff, liaising with the bishop and funding agencies through Fr. Dan. Since the children come from a very wide area most cannot be day pupils. Hence it was necessary to build accommodation hostels for boys and for girls.

Fr. Everest was transferred to another parish in 2015. At that point the school was put in the charge of the missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Apostles with Sr. Agnes Micah OLA (Nigerian) appointed Head Teacher. The school is in dire need of new classrooms to accommodate the ever increasing number of pupils, currently 140. In 2016 the Friends of Africa responded to a plea for help from Bishop Bulus. They gave a generous donation of £19,000 to assist the Vicariate in erecting a block of three new classrooms. This work was commenced in Jan 2017. The bishop has been reporting monthly on the progress of the construction. (see photos). He is deeply grateful to the Friends of Africa for the invaluable help they have rendered.

Fr. Dan McCauley SMA , Former Chaplain