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Irish rugby stars build hope

Brent Pope Rugby Legends Tour of Zambia in partnership with Habitat for Humanity Ireland. Photo by Dylan Vaughan

Two local girls play around with a rugby ball in the Ndola township of northern Zambia. Photo by Dylan Vaughan

A team of 24 Irish volunteers, as well as Irish rugby legend Liam Toland, rugby analyst Brent Pope and rugby greats Angus McKeen and Paddy Johns, partnered with Habitat for Humanity Ireland and local Zambian families to build four homes in the Chipulusu township of Ndola, northern Zambia, earlier this month.

During the eight day build, from 6 to 14 June, the Irish volunteers worked alongside the local community, constructing houses which were built from bricks made from the sand of ant hills mixed with water and cement and finished with corrugated iron. The windows were held in place with chicken wire. These houses can accommodate up to eight people.

About 800 000 people live in Ndola and it takes locals up to a month to construct a single house due to the shortage of trained laborers.

More than two thirds of Zambians live in extreme poverty and the average life expectancy is 38 years, while there are more than one million orphans as a result of the HIV/ADS pandemic.

All the volunteers and former rugby players lived in houses within the community. Living as locals while working alongside them gave the volunteers an opportunity to learn about the challenges they face and experience their culture. It also gave them the opportunity to share a quick rugby game.