From my experience of teaching, I have become more confident in leading and speaking.

Dylan Denvir, Bangor Team 2018

Saphara team members are young leaders

Transformational leadership programme

Saphara believes in the potential of young people to change the world, for themselves and for others. Our programmes give young people from Northern Ireland the opportunity to engage in issues of justice and global citizenship. During their time with Saphara, they work with other young people from across the community divide as well as with disadvantaged children in India, sharing stories about the things that matter to them and learning how they can work together for social change.

When a young person joins a Saphara team, they begin a year-long Transformational Leadership Programme. The goals of the programme are to:

  • raise awareness of the issues young people are facing globally;

  • help young people recognise their responsibilities as a global citizen;

  • stimulate conversations between team members, relatives, friends and the wider community;

  • seek transformational encounters both at home and in India.

Our Saphara teams are made up of pupils from different community backgrounds and involve both selective and non-selective schools in Northern Ireland. From the very beginning of the journey our teams run fundraising and information events designed to get their friends, families and wider communities talking together about social issues.


When the teams reach India, they continue their growth and reflection through regular evening sessions and the Global Awareness Weekend. This special couple of days gets young people leading critical thinking exercises and activities with inspirational leaders in Indian NGOs and with senior diplomats including the Irish Ambassador.


Throughout this part of their journey, our team members are in regular contact with Indian young people both in the classroom taking English lessons, and outside it as they share aspects of their culture and life experiences. This is often the most rewarding part of the journey as they discover what it is like being a young person in another country, with all the similarities and differences that brings.

On completion of the programme, the young people are equipped with resources to share what they have learnt among their peers at school. Through this, Saphara aims to raise awareness of these issues throughout the whole school community and create a legacy that will be passed on to future generations.

To read about their experiences directly, check out our most recent updates below or visit our blog page.

Our Impacts

The Team

Since 2009, 832 Northern Irish students and 163 teachers from 50 teams have taken part in the year-long Transformational Programme.


Saphara has worked with 32 schools from all sections of the Northern Irish community, and has been recognised as an execellent part of the Shared Education Programme.


The money that our teams fundraise every year goes directly to our education and girl's rights programmes.


Two Saphara students have participated in the Washington Ireland programme in 2019, and many more have gone on to careers in human rights law, medicine and education.

Reflection: Lewis

Bangor Team 2018

Teaching the students of Kaplani and SNEHA schools has been the most rewarding experience of my life. The joy I felt teaching students at Kaplani is indescribable and so too is the sadness I felt leaving that place; I laughed and cried in the space of an hour and I am a better person for it. I owe so much to the children I worked with...and if I could show half the resilience, determination and passion they did I would be happy. I am forever grateful to them for what they have taught me.

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Reflection: Francesca

East-West Team 2016

I have been on a few trips with my school in the past but none have compared to  my experience with Saphara in India. I was both blessed and honoured to be a part of such an experience with a group of amazing people. The children we had the privilege to teach are an inspiration to us and the lessons I learnt from them will stay with me forever. The experience as a whole meant the world to me and I will look back on it with fondness. I wish I could do it all over again.

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Reflection: Dominic Breen

Saphara Team Leader

Looking back on my time in India I will certainly remember the places and things I’ve seen, but most of all I will keep in mind the children, the teachers and the villagers I met. We saw the great challenges that marginalised and rural communities face but came away impressed by the tremendous courage, resourcefulness and dignity of the men, women and children who lived there.

Saphara Teams

Saphara Teams