Fr. Michael Walsh has been working with children orphaned by HIV/AIDS in Zambia for many years. Fundraising to support his work was initiated by Monica and Pat McMahon following their trip to Zambia in 2001. The Spiritan Zambia Orphan Fund (SZOF) was later set up by a young student, Michael Kelly. Michael travelled to Zambia to do voluntary work with Fr. Walsh for six months after he had completed his Leaving Certificate in St. Finian’s College, Mullingar in 2007. The staff and students in his school raised €8,000 prior to his trip. He was delighted to be able to present this money to the Orphans and Vulnerables Organisation (OVO) on his arrival in Zambia.

He was so impressed by what he saw during his time in Zambia that he felt compelled to continue to support the work of the OVO on his return to Ireland in 2008. This website was later developed by him as part of his studies for a Master’s Degree in Computer Science in UCD in 2012.

The Spiritan Zambia Orphan Fund (SZOF) received charity status (CHY 17485) in 2007. It is currently funded mostly by donors in Ireland. It supports the work of a non-governmental organisation in Zambia called the Orphans and Vulnerables Organisation (OVO). The OVO was registered by the registrar of societies in Zambia in May 2011. Its registration number is ORS/102/47/841.

Our charity in Zambia receives generous support from Midland Grain Growers and the people of Kinnitty Parish in Co. Offaly. Generous donations are also received from a few individuals in the USA who are familiar with the valuable work being done by the OVO with orphaned children in Zambia.

OVO Work in Zambia

Zambia has seen the deaths of thousands of people from AIDS, leaving in their wake a generation of orphaned children and vulnerable adults. Our main aim is to try and help as many orphans and vulnerable people as possible. OVO Zambia are involved in projects in various parts of Southern Province, Zambia. OVO Zambia are based at seven different locations: Zimba; Fumbo; Kasiya; Pemba; Linda; Makunka; Mwapona Basic School, Choma. Each district is administered by a volunteer living in that area.

We have a number of programmes in place as follows:


We have identified the provision of financial support for education as the most effective way of helping these children achieve financial independence. This support includes the provision of school fees, exam fees, books, etc. We also provide funding for third level education for a limited number of children.

A lack of security is one of the biggest problems facing these children. We believe that this programme supplies part of the security that every child needs. The children need to apply on a yearly basis for support with school fees. We try to subsidise these fees for children from Grade 1 to Grade 12. However, we can only guarantee funding on a yearly basis because we cannot predict from year to year the availability of sufficient funds in the charity’s account.

The recession has caused a severe reduction in funding to the SZOF. This has resulted in a situation where many children who have shown great promise to date will have to be denied funding in the coming years due to lack of resources. Any financial assistance which will help these children continue in education is being urgently sought.

In many cases, the children have no school books and the only set of books in a classroom is that held by the teacher. Also, even basic sports equipment such as basketball rings, basketballs or footballs are not available. We aim to provide funding for these basic provisions.

The lack of provision of basic housing for teachers has also been identified as a problem. In cases where teachers’ homes are located long distances from schools, the availability of basic housing can be vitally important to attracting teachers to remote areas.


The Orphans and Vulnerables Organisation set up a programme for the training of counsellors (13 trained to date) to support children who have emotional and psychological problems. The work carried out by these councillors has been of enormous benefit to the children. These services are being provided in seven centres throughout Southern Province, Zambia.


Food aid is provided to vulnerable individuals. This has been found to be very effective in improving school attendance as the children no longer have to trade and work to provide sustenance for themselves.

Our food programme is based in Mwapona Basic School (Choma) and Pemba Postulancy. A meal is provided three times a week at lunchtime in Mwapona Basic School. This programme has brought about a considerable increase in school attendance and has raised the pupils level of concentration during school. Before the food programme was introduced, pupils did not attend school because of the need to forage for food. The Pemba food programme is essentially for destitute adults.

Distribution of Funding

In 2012, the total number of beneficiaries was 974 and funding was allocated as follows:

Catchment Area Funding Allocation in 2012 (US$)
Zimba 28,900
Fumbo 6,000
Kasiya 5,600
Pemba 5,300
Makunka 6,000
Linda 6,000
Mwapona Basic School, Choma 6,000
Total Funding 63,800

In 2013, we subsidised 1,300 children in the above seven catchment areas. We are continually appealing for financial support because the numbers of children in need of assistance is increasing on a daily basis and our funds are not capable of meeting the growing demands.

2013 AGM – 7th December 2013

The OVO annual general meeting took place on 7th December 2013. All seven centres were represented and there were 28 people in attendance. Three members were unable to attend. Peter Sorge, who is a friend and long-time supporter of OVO was visiting Zambia at the time and he was given a great welcome. The main focus of the meeting was to organise ways in which each centre could raise funds in 2014 to help meet the requirements within its own catchment area. There was much discussion as regards what type of fund raising activity would best suit each area.

Auditing of OVO 2013 accounts will commence soon and when these are done, the information will be circulated among all the stake holders.

Our Work in Ireland

We need funding in order to finance programmes. We are continually seeking donors to sponsor the education of orphaned children. We welcome donations, no matter how small. Ultimately, the more sponsorship we receive, the more people we can help. The committee in Ireland is working hard to source as much sponsorship as possible. As we have charity status (CHY 17485), we can claim tax refunds in relation to donations which is a great help in boosting funds.

The SZOF is run completely on a voluntary basis. Funds are raised from annual church gate collections in Ireland. Some generous donors also provide on-going support. We have introduced new initiatives such as Sponsor a Child’s Education and School Non-Uniform Day.

In January 2013, we received a grant from the Garda Síochána Third World Fund for the construction of a multi - purpose community building in Chali for which we are extremely grateful.

Since none of the usual expenses (salaries, office accommodation etc) incurred by the larger charities apply in this case, all funds collected go directly to Zambia. Full details of our accounts are sent to the Revenue Commissioners each year and they are available in the Documentation section.

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