Entries by Serve Solidarity

SERVE Supports Skills training for youth in Southern Africa

On World Youth Skills Day, Irish Charity SERVE highlights their international contribution to Reimagine Youth Skills Post-Pandemic.

Irish charity SERVE has supported over 5000 marginalised young people since 2018  in Zimbabwe and Mozambique through numerous programmes in partnership with a local partner called Young Africa. This is made possible with support from donations from the public, Irish Aid’s Civil Society Fund and other donors such as Electric Aid and Galway City Council.

Young Africa offer technical skills training courses such as Motor Mechanics, Carpentary, Metal Works, Dressmaking and more to tackle youth unemployment. Young Africa also ensure that all students undergo training in IT skills, entrepreneurship and life skills training. SERVE has worked with Young Africa since 2008 to support the delivery of these trainings through the SERVE Development Programme.  

SERVE will work with Young Africa to begin a new programme at the end of 2021 to benefit  further 5000 marginalised youth, aged 18-35yrs before 2024. This programme will reimagine youth skills post pandemic with local expertise.


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Reflections on Youth Skills Day from SERVE Volunteers

Isabel Dwyer 2018-2019

Isabel Dwyer volunteered with SERVE at Young Africa in 2018 and 2019. Isabel shares, “I was lucky enough to spend July of 2018 and 2019 on the sunny Young Africa campus in Beira, Mozambique. Each day, I discovered hopeful new corners of the campus where young people were busy practicing carpentry, dressmaking, catering, and construction, perfecting their chosen trades.

Despite their impressive mastery, many of the younger students of Young Africa seemed humble and perhaps unaware of the value of their talent.

I was glad, therefore, to learn of an integral part of Young Africa’s approach, which backs practical education (in all its colourful domains) with crucial life skills training. This way, the students’ education is sustainably bolstered and protected by confidence – and youth unemployment is tackled head-first.”

Isabel Dwyer (back row extreme right) with fellow SERVE volunteers and Young Africa Students

Julia Haimlinger 2019-2020

Dublin based Julia Hamlinger was SERVE’s long term volunteer in Zimbabwe with Young Africa between 2019-2020. Julia explains, “I was responsible for the Monitoring & Evaluation for Young Africa International. During my year in Zimbabwe, we all had to witness Covid 19 spreading across the globe and forcing the world to shut down.

These times have more than ever highlighted the importance of giving young people access to education.

Even though our centres had to close, some course components were able to continue and students were reached through phone and online surveys. Additionally, an emergency programme was launched for particularly vulnerable students and community members. Unfortunately, I had limited contact with the youth due to outbreak of the pandemic, however, what I witnessed was their creativity and resilience and their interest and commitment to education and putting the ‘we’ before the ‘I’. Many of the countries in the Northern hemisphere are well on their way when it comes to a vaccination programme and are slowly easing restrictions, in Zimbabwe though, cases are higher than ever and it is our turn to show full solidarity with our partners to continue access to education, skills training and avoiding further loss of livelihoods and lives.”

Julia Haimlinger at Young Africa Hub in Zimbabwe

Nollaig Hulme 2018-2020

Tipperary native and now Cork-based SERVE Volunteer Nollaig Hulme, explains “During my time in Young Africa Mozambique in 2018, I observed first hand the impact of skills training for the youth. It was their sure way to live a better life. The youth are extremely motivated and determined to improve their life and the work that SERVE does with Young Africa ensures that the youth can get the best shot.

They had numerous skills training courses to choose from like mechanics, carpentary, dressmaking, construction and catering.

As a committee member of SERVE’s ‘Think Global Act Local Programme‘, we use our overseas volunteering experience to reflect on local actions and we speak about youth skills training too. No doubt, SERVE’s partners pay close attention to the needs of their students and to the developing industries. In the post-pandemic era, the funding is invaluable to the future of the youth.”

Nollaig Hulme (third from the left) with fellow SERVE volunteers at Young Africa Skills Training Centre Mozambique in 2018

Karina McGinley 2018-2019

Donegal native Karina McGinley was a SERVE long-term volunteer based in  Zimbabwe between 2018 to 2019. Karina shares, “Through the SERVE Development Programme funds are availed to promote the inclusion of economically and socially disadvantaged youths in technical education (TVET) courses. These courses, delivered by local entrepreneurs, promote self-employability. This is critical as the countries where Young Africa operates, namely Zimbabwe and Mozambique, have small formal job markets which are further contracting owing to COVID-19.

Skills training, combined with entrepreneurship training, life skills training and on-site psychosocial support, is a powerful method of empowering youths to earn a decent income.

It is critical that policymakers continue to recognise that ongoing investment in non-formal education is an effective method of promoting a skilled workforce and alleviating the pressure for youths to engage in high-risk occupations”

Karina McGinley with Young Africa students on Graduation Day


Reflection from Young Africa Zimbabwe Director Susan Madodo

TGAL Reflection from Sinead Mulry

Sinead Mulry's TGAL reflection so far


SERVE Programmes Intern Sinead Mulry reflects on her time so far with SERVE’s Think Global Act Local programme.

For the last three months, I have participated in SERVE’s Think Global Act Local (TGAL) programme. I decided to become apart of the programme to help me expand my knowledge from my course ‘International Development’ in UCC, as well as adding more to my current placement with SERVE as their Programme’s Intern.  

TGAL is a global learning programme that is hosted online and it involves using participatory and inclusive methods. The programme is facilitated by mentors who have volunteered for SERVE in the past, who also have a great insight into their own experiences in different countries of the Global South. The programme started in April and since then there have been three online Global Forum workshops. As well as these forums, we had a selection of challenges given to us online to complete. Here are a few highlights from the programme so far from my perspective. 

One of the modules we covered that I found the most interesting was the Personal Development module. In our first task of this module, we were prompted to be introspective and look at our “core values”. To do this, we had to complete a number of exercises,  including: readings, videos, tasks and listening to podcasts. At the end of this part of the module we were tasked with creating a picture collage inspired from the challenges and to illustrate what volunteer role would suit these values best.

Here’s a sample of the collage:  

Sinead's Core Values collage

The core values that resonated most with me were Courage, Justice, and Humanity. I then went through my core values in detail and related it back to volunteering. By looking at myself in a more focused light and realising my strengths weaknesses, I learned that volunteering in development is the right path for me.  In hindsight, I realised while doing this exercise, my weaknesses in the past can become my strengths in the present.

One of these core values I found insightful to think about was Courage. I have suffered from anxiety in the past. I found it hard to get myself out there. With volunteering in development, courage is not only important but a requirement. I learned that overtime its important to tell oneself that the outcome is worth it in the end. 

Over the three months I spent in TGAL so far, we’ve had a number of guest speakers. My personal favorite speaker was James Leonard. James discussed his life experiences from past drug addiction to an honours degree in UCC in criminology. James had been in and out of prison from a young age and felt overtime that it was a familiar way of being because it was where his friends were and where his parents were in the past. During his time in prison, he was introduced to heroin at 21. He became a user for 10 years and spoke about how the drug made him feel so isolated and separate from society, as well as pushing him into a stereotype, where it was assumed he wouldn’t do much with his life.  

Now James works with Cork Education and Training Board (ETB) Youth Services. James also has a very successful podcast called the ‘Two Norries’ that I now love to listen to from time to time. By listening to his life changing experiences, James taught me how attitudes and languages can have a huge effect on people and that no culture is superior to the other and that we shouldn’t judge a culture based on another culture, and all culture norms are valid and relevant to that context. This point is relevant to any role in a development context home and abroad. 

TGAL is a great experience and I have learned so much so far. I find myself more engaged on different social injustices and find myself more able to discuss topics such as gender inequality, ethical consumption, and personal development in more detail. But most importantly I’ve learned about how I can use information given to me in this programme to better myself and others around me by thinking globally and acting locally. 


Click the image to learn more about James & the Two Norries Podcast

TGAL Reflection from Constantin Becker

TGAL Reflection from Constantin Becker

SERVE volunteer Constantin Becker reflects on his time so far with SERVE’s Think Global Act Local programme.

“When I first heard of Think Global Act Local (TGAL) I was both excited and sceptical. How could Volunteering work via Zoom? What are the topics of the sessions? Am I really going to learn something new? 

So I applied and on the 10th of April TGAL then finally began. My excitement was soon bested by the interesting workshops in our first session.  

After the Introduction we went straight in with a module on Personal Development. I also learned that Words and how we express ourselves have a big impact and got a look at many new phrases. Another thing that caught my attention was the Workshop on marginalised Groups in Ireland, especially the Travelling Community. I didn’t even think of the discriminations against them here in Ireland before TGAL. The shocking Truth brought forth by TGAL opened my eyes, making me even more interested in the Programme. 

The next session was one month later, but no worries, there were many ways to educate yourself in the meantime. Recommended by our Mentors, Podcasts, TED Talks, Blogs etc. gave a huge variety of learning and something for everybody. Not to mention the important challenges introduced between the Workshops plus the opportunity of listening to Guest Speakers. 

The Guest Speakers had a big impact on me, the most major was certainly Elton Sibanda. Elton gave an insight into the Direct Provision system and its flaws. Again, my eyes were opened to a topic I did not even think about which is now impossible to forget. 

Our second workshop in May then brought forth new Topics like Ethical Consumerism and Gender Equality. Again Zoom was made interactive and exciting through the Use of Google Jamboards and Breakout Rooms. Again we reflected on ourselves and did a quick quiz on what kind of a volunteer we are. 

Our third TGAL session happened in June. This time with a bigger focus on Social Justice from both an Irish as well as from a Global Perspective. The Workshops of Personal Development and Gender Equality were continued with great enthusiasm. 

To conclude, I am very happy of being a participant for TGAL. The Programme has been very informative and a lot of fun. The answer to my questions from the Beginning can only be a big Yes”.

Group photo of TGAL Global Forum Day 3 on June 19th 2021

SERVE introduced a new programme called ‘Think Global, Act Local’ (TGAL) in 2021 in response to cancelling the Overseas Volunteer Programme. TGAL is an online global learning programme and is delivered using participatory and inclusive methods. TGAL is facilitated by mentors who have volunteered for SERVE and who have vital information shared from their own experiences in the Global South.

Darren Hennelly Homecoming

 Long term SERVE Volunteer Darren Hennelly Travels Back Home

SERVE Development Officer and long-term overseas volunteer Darren Hennely travels home this weekend from Mazabuka, Zambia after working there 17 months.

On the eve of his departure to Ireland, Darren shares, “I’m looking forward to coming home and I’m happy with the work that has been done while I have been in Mazabuka. It’s been a challenging environment to work in but there is now a platform for further development and continued progress in the Assumption Parish. The experience leaves me with a range of emotions and memories to last a lifetime. Hopefully, I can make it back to Mazabuka someday to witness the progress. This experience makes me very humble and grateful for what I have”. 

Darren worked closely with Assumption Parish and other partners in Mazabuka, Zambia. Darren was involved with designing workshops, life skills training programmes and sports days for the youth. Darren also initiated a community garden project. Darren was deeply involved with identifying the needs of our partners to ensure SERVE could offer the support they needed.

Team SERVE looks forward to Darren’s safe homecoming to Co. Mayo.

Darren Hennelly at the St. Bakhita Youth Centre in Mazabuka, Zambia

Darren Hennelly with Cledwyn and Br. Jose from Flamboyant Special School in Mazabuka

Darren Hennelly facilitating workshop with SERVE partner Young Africa in Lusaka, Zambia

Darren Hennelly at the community garden in Mazabuka, Zambia

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