Every year at St. Vincents Castleknock, we have fundraised for Ambo as this is a very important mission close to our hearts . . .

Our Sister SchoolThe Ambo Lazarist Deaf School, Ethiopia

Children in Ambo preparing to welcome the School Immersion Students
Children in Ambo preparing to welcome the School Immersion Students

For 14 years, the School’s Immersion Program was based at the Vincentian Mission in Ambo, Ethiopia. During this time, over 120 students and staff had the privilege of experiencing the warm ‘Ambo’ welcome and the joy they brought to hundreds of local children who eagerly participated in the summer program.

Children attending the feeding program and
outdoor school Ambo 2009
Children attending the feeding program and
outdoor school Ambo 2009

When the first group of boys from Ireland arrived in Ambo, there was a small preschool within the Vincentian compound.  Twice a week, over 200 children would gather for the feeding program, receiving a cup of tea and a bread roll. They also had the opportunity to learn the basics of counting and the alphabet while sitting beneath the shade of an acacia tree.

However, with the arrival of the Irish boys, the number of children visiting the compound swelled to over 400.

Parcel of land purchased for the building of
a Deaf School with funds raised by the
St Vincent’s College Castleknock
Parcel of land purchased for the building of
a Deaf School with funds raised by the
St Vincent’s College Castleknock

Inspired by their experiences in Ambo, the boys expressed a strong desire to assist the Vincentian Fathers in responding to the needs of the Deaf community in the town, especially the longing of Deaf children to attend school.

This desire to make a difference to the lives of the these children captured the imagination of many people associated with St Vincent’s and thanks to the fundraising efforts of such groups as the parents association, mothers lunches, family masses and some generous donations from Past Men, sufficient funds were raised to purchase a parcel of land across the road from the Vincentian compound.

It was here that the first-ever Catholic School for Deaf Children in Ethiopia known as The Ambo Lazarist Deaf School (ALDS) was opened in 2012 with an initial enrolment of just nine students.

End of year prize giving celebrations ALDS
End of year prize giving celebrations ALDS
Sign Language Class ALDS

Today, in 2024, nearly 100 Deaf children are enrolled at the school. Many of these children come from as far as 150km away and reside with relatives in the town. The construction of a Boarding House remains a key goal for the school, as it would greatly benefit these students, offering them a much a greater sense of security and welfare. Fundraising for this project has been ongoing for a number of years and just as the school had finalised plans Covid hit. Unfortunately post covid there was a massive rise in cost of construction with inflation running at 40%. That coupled with so much political instability in the region, the project is on hold while additional funds are raised. However, thanks to a commitment from the Past Men’s Union and a generous donation from a Past Man, there is some hope that such a facility can soon be put in place for the students.

Since opening the Ambo Lazarist Deaf School has truly transformed the lives of Deaf children, all of whom are deeply grateful to ‘The Irish’ and their sister school, St. Vincent’s College. The ALDS is the only Deaf school within a 200km radius providing rural Deaf children with the only opportunity they have to receive an education.

Unfortunately, due to the ongoing war and political instability, the school’s immersion program in Ambo has been temporarily suspended. Nevertheless, the seeds planted by the boys in 2010 continue to bear fruit.

The ALDS offers free education to Deaf students from economically disadvantaged families, primarily those engaged in subsistence farming in rural areas. The school relies entirely on the generosity and kindness of donors and sponsors.

If you would like to contribute to this wonderful project which is rooted in the Ethos of the College and considered our Sister School please visit to make an online donation or sponsor a child.

Castleknock College Summer Challenge 2020:

Steps 2 Ambo

Last Summer as a school, St. Vincent’s Castleknock College raised €17,600 by travelling the equivalent of the distance from St. Vincent’s Castleknock College to Ambo.

Thanks to those who sent pictures and completed distances for Steps2Ambo

Well done Everyone!

The distance from St. Vincent’s College to Ambo Town in Ethiopia is 8,800km which translates into about 11,548,556 (fit-bit steps2ambo).

We asked the whole school community to join us on this journey by walking, cycling, running, swimming or undertaking any form of exercise to help us reach our destination.

Each Euro donated brought us 1km closer to Ambo…

We tracked our progress by keeping a close eye on our map.

Your donations provided crucial support for the following needs:

  • As a consequence of the economic crisis caused by Covid-19 many of the local villagers in Ambo who were daily labourers had no work and no income. During this time the Vincentian Fathers provided over 250 families with basic food supplies such as rice, pasta, oil and flour. These are the people who have opened their lives and homes to the boys from St. Vincent’s during the school immersion programs. Many of the families live in the social housing project which the Vincentian Fathers have built for the poorest families in the area. Some of the money raised from ‘Steps2Ambo’ was used to support these families through this most difficult of times.
  • Due to Covid-19, the KG school and the Deaf school were both closed. However, the teachers still engaged in outreaching to the children. They prepared worksheets and distributed them to their homes and encouraged the children to continue their learning. It was vital that we retained the services of our teachers. All of the KG teachers are qualified in the Montessori method of teaching and those in the Deaf school are competent in Sign Language. Some of the money went towards assisting them in their outreach efforts, paying for materials such as paper and pencils, photocopying ink and helped to pay their salaries.
  • Many of the children that students from the St. Vincent’s College have so much fun teaching and interacting with come from the poorest families in the village. The environment where they live often results in them picking up nasty infections (mostly skin and eye). We offer support to families so their children can be treated at the local clinic. This helps alleviate the very painful effects of the infection, prevents it spreading to other children and ensures they don’t have to miss school. Some of the money from ‘Steps2Ambo’ went towards a fund we have in Ambo which is used to pay for clinic visits and medication. (Approx €6 per visit). Without access to conventional medicine, parents often take their child to a traditional healer. This rarely helps and mostly results in the child being permanently scarred and living in pain for long periods of time.

Thank you for your kind donations. Every Euro went a long way to helping those in needs.

Also, thank you to the PRA, the Union and the College who combined to match the total raised with another €8,800 to bring the total to €17,600 raised.

Ambo project

One of the most important and rewarding activities of the community work undertaken by the College is in Africa.  The College offers fifth year students an opportunity to spend two to three weeks working and living with the Vincentian community in Ambo, Ethiopia each June.

The venture sees successful applicants engage in a range of voluntary work there including teaching in the local Vincentian school, working in the Vincentian food programme, assisting in the Vincentian school for the deaf and coaching Ambo United FC.

Students raise funds to meet their travel and subsistence expenses and events are organised within and outside the college to raise funds for the St Vincent’s Castleknock College Development Programme in Ambo.  This project has enabled the construction of expanded education facilities as well as the provision of medical and food supplies to those who wish to avail of the aid provided by the Vincentian community in Ambo.

Newsletter from Ambo:

VLM News from Ambo September 2020