In April 2011, Bobby Kerr and a group of businessmen visited Zambia with Habitat for Humanity.
Bobby Kerr is an Irish businessman and entrepreneur. He has also been a dragon on RTE’s Dragon’s Den and has own talk show on Newstalk FM.
Bobby reflects on the experience:
I visited Lusaka in April 2011 with a team of ten volunteers on a building project to raise money for Habitat for Humanity.
The team were absolutely fantastic and I was tremendously honoured to have each and every one of them in Zambia. I was confident that we would collectively exceed our fundraising target as a team. The final sum raised was just short of 45K. People were incredibly generous for which I and the team are eternally grateful.
Ready for Action
We travelled on Wednesday, complete with our mosquito nets and DEET, and had an uneventful flight down. We arrived in Lusaka at 6.30 am and were on the site at 8.00am ready for action.
The work on the site was challenging and very labour intensive but the local builders we worked alongside were fantastic at managing the whole thing. The entire team worked hard all week and we were proud to finish a house for a very needy family. The work on site involved everything from mixing mortar, to block laying and roofing. The tools were basic and the local builders were able to accomplish almost anything using just a hammer – it was a lesson in dexterity.
Our accommodation was in a local compound where we were looked after by a team of friendly locals. We rolled out the camp mats, put up the mosquito nets and split ourselves between two houses. Every day we woke up to fresh Maize porridge prepared outside by the women, using only a tiny fire. They also prepared our lunch and dinner which consisted of some surprising local tasty dishes like Maize balls and cabbage. It was amazing how they could prepare such flavoursome meals with no space and very few utensils.
The local people made our stay very special and no matter where we were we always stumbled across friendly, smiling faces. After our dinner we would sit around a campfire where more locals would entertain us with storytelling and dance. They even managed to get a few of the Irish lads up for a dance!
Handing over the keys
Our days of early rises and long hours on the building site paid off when we were able to hand over the keys to our house at a closing ceremony on our final evening. This was a really special experience and the gratitude of the family will stick with me forever. We were met with a line of local drummers and a ceremony commenced with much dancing, and speeches from all involved. Handing over the keys to the family was so gratifying and they went completely out of their way to thank the entire team. We were treated to music, dances, singing and other traditional ceremonies. I think the whole team will remember the ceremony forever.
Our last day involved taking in a local Baptist mass where we watched and listened to lively music and dance from the attendees. This was followed up by a meeting with the Irish Ambassador Tony Cotter and then a trip out to see a game lodge.
It is inspiring to meet the locals in Zambia and see how they can make do with so little. It is amazing to be exposed to the amount of good work that Habitat for Humanity do over there and to get to see firsthand the difference they make in peoples’ lives every single day over there. It’s a cliché but you really do come away with much more than you give on a trip like this. I’m proud of the team and proud to have taken part in an initiative like this and I look forward to hearing more about the great work Habitat for Humanity will continue to do.
Check out some photos of Bobby’s trip here.