Since moving to Ireland early in 2020, 17-year-old Zimbabwean boy, Keith Khumalo and his family were offered direct provision in Ballinamore Co. Leitrim. They were very happy to have the opportunity to leave troubled Zimbabwe to be welcomed into a safe community in Ballinamore. Keith had only just started in his new school a few weeks when Covid 19 restrictions were put in place, leaving him very little chance to make friends in the area.
Connecting after living in lockdown
Once the lockdown was lifted Foróige Futures were busy planning summer programmes and activities to help young people in the area to reconnect after such a long period of isolation. Keith discovered the kayaking summer course offered by Foróige Futures in Ballinamore and was interested. The course was run both online and on water, it began with 2 hours on Zoom covering the necessary introductions which was then followed by 6 days on the water in Ballinamore along the Shannon – Erne blue way.
Comprehensive Kayaking Summer Programme in Leitrim
Day 1 - Intro to kayaking and risk assessment
Day 2 - Skills Introduction and self rescues
Day 3 - Skills Development and environment
Day 4 - Journeying and Exploring
Day 5 - Kayak Skills Development
Day 6 - River Safety and Rescue Training
Here Keith met other young people from the localities of Ballinamore and Aughnasheelin, together they had fun while learning lots of water skills. Keith had never kayaked before so this was a first for him, the course covered paddling techniques to enable navigating forwards, backward and sideways. The course was led by Alan Judge, Regional Youth Officer, Foróige Leitrim / Sligo, and Jim Maher Senior Youth Officer Foróige Longford /Leitrim.
The group was also challenged to a long paddle, and the days after Storm Ellen saw the group paddling for 3 hours on their return journey into the village. Together they learned the importance of teamwork and of working together to help achieve individual goals, they all made new friends and connections and soon they will take their assessment for the QQI level 4 qualification in kayaking. Keith has especially enjoyed this time being with other young people and discovering his new home in the heartlands of Ireland. He is looking forward to meeting his new friends when he gets back to school and at the Foróige club when it begins again soon.
To find out more about Foróige in Leitrim / Sligo you can contact [email protected] or in Longford [email protected]