Joy Chisompola at the time of the exchange worked for the Lazarus project where she rescued, and rehabilitated street children. She is presently working for International Justice Mission as an aftercare specialist. Joy took part in the exchange in 2008.
"On one hot sunny day in October, 2008, I received a phone call from Valarie Duffy of 80:20 from the Zambian office, she said “Hello is this Joy? You have been picked for the exchange programme in Ireland!”. I was so excited I did not expect to be picked for this exchange. I actually filled the forms reluctantly wondering whether this would really happen to me. I had never been to Europe in my entire life - I had only watched how such countires looked on television. This was going to be a great experience for me I thought. I did not know what to expect especially when I heard that it was a very cold country, weather that I’d certainly have to adjust to.
Finally the day came, I got on the plane actually for the first time - I did not know whether I would be queasy or not! Gladly my first flight went just fine, but boy was it a long trip yet interesting and exciting.
My First Impressions
When we arrived in Ireland, Dublin to be specific, it was beautiful and very green. It was so cold and it rained almost every day. The weather was definitely different from where I came from. I noticed a good road network system and the timely buses really intrigued me. The buses that go to different places - even short distances - left on time and an hour later another bus using the same route would come.
We were welcomed by the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) and that was the first organisation we came in contact with while in Ireland. They arranged for our trip and our stay there with funding from Irish Aid. With their help we were able to visit different organisations and learn from them.
I was inspired by the Galway One World Centre. I watched the children as they interpreted children’s rights.. This is something I had been talking about with the children I worked with at the Lazarus Project, however, the children in Ireland make it more graphic and very visual for one to remember. I admired their creativity.
I learnt that YMCA is also in Zambia and they do similar work on issues of Justice. I was also able to speak in public thus building my confidence on the differences between Zambia and Ireland, and I was also able to act in a play depicting how Zambian marriages are organised. This caused the youths in Ireland to ask a lot of questions on issues of dowry. This was a big difference with the Irish because they do not have to go through what we go through when getting married. I found this exciting.
Joy (seated front left) with Irish and Zambian members of the 2008 exchange in Dublin
I also learnt new ice-breakers to use with children and in meeting s to keep us active. I was also able to teach ice-breakers that we use in Zambia - this was fun and filled with so much laughter.
My experience has taught me that we are different in some of our cultures yet similar in our works, I learnt that in as much as we want to see justice in Zambia, this is also the aim of the Irish. The issue of HIV/AIDS is cross-cutting and affects them too as well, I thought that they are probably not affected but in actual fact they are.
My experience in Ireland also helped share it in my job interview for the job that I am presently in, I had indicated my visit in my C.V and my interviewers in the U.S.A were interested in knowing what I had learnt abroad. And I got the job I am an Aftercare Specialist now at International Justice Mission and my experience made me confident and has still built that in my day to day work life as well as my personal life, I have more to share, but this is just part of what I learnt and experienced."
Members of the 2008 exchange meet Gay Mitchell MEP in Dublin
To learn more about International Justice Mission, click here.
To learn more about the Lazarus project, click here.