By: Matt Moran
The pre-Christmas period is the busiest time of the year for fundraising by most charities as they scramble to try to be different. Some just do a straight-forward 'ask' whilst others try to give something as encouragement to the public to donate to their cause. Carol singing outside the GPO in Dublin's O'Connell Street, and annual table quizzes have raised over €290,000 to fund a number of development projects in deprived communities in Africa.
The Zambia Appeal Group was set up by volunteers in 1999, and is now a registered charity that remains run by volunteers with all funds raised going directly to charitable projects.
Maureen O'Dwyer - a founding member of the group - points out how "a little raised in Ireland can go a long way in providing essential services for the poor or marginalised in Africa". This year's carol singing raised €7,500 of which almost €4,000 was collected on the street over an eight hour period on Sunday 17th December. Singers, musicians and collectors including individuals from many different religious congregations all contributed to an enjoyable Christmas spirit that has become part of the Christmas scene in O'Connell Street.
The Zambia Appeal Group is a very small voluntary group that likes to support project activities that may not be funded by large donors. The small donations made by shoppers and passers-by support the development of two fish ponds to help create youth employment in a rural location in Zambia; the installation of water tanks for harvesting water at a piggery project; ongoing maintenance costs of wells and equipment at a special needs school; surgery, medication and travel costs for children with special needs; school materials, cupboards and shelving at a community school for orphans and vulnerable children, and the provision of food.
Some of the funds from Ireland also support two visually impaired girls with education fees and school materials, and two other students with their third level education - one with a disability studying to be a maths teacher that the Group has supported since he started primary school and the other from a very vulnerable background who is studying biochemistry.
A Christmas seasonal and fun event in Dublin can make a big difference in the lives of under-privileged and special needs children and youth in Zambia. A true example of 'a little can go a long way' in changing someone's life. The Group's annual table quiz will take place in February. They can be contacted at" firstname.lastname@example.org
(Matt Moran is author of book - The Legacy of Irish Missionaries Lives On)