SOME 320 IRISH volunteers will arrive in South Africa today to build new classrooms and a playground for the children at a school in Cape Town over the next eight weeks.
This ‘building blitz’ is being organised by the charity the Niall Mellon Township Trust which is moving forward in its aim of creating a better learning environment for 100,000 African children.
Commenting on this round of building, Niall Mellon said the township of Imizamo Yethu, where the Irish volunteers will arrive today, “holds a very special place in our hearts” as it was the first one he walked into when he started the charity in 2002.
“Since then we have built over 20,000 homes throughout Africa for over 100,000 people,” he said. “How fitting it is that our first South African school project takes place back where it all began!”
In Imizamo Yethu there is a population of over 25,000 residents and almost every household has a child going to the Oranjekloof Moravian Primary school. It is this school that the Irish volunteers will build, plaster and paint. The build in the Eastern Cape is in a very rural setting and the students are in much need of educational facilities.
Mellon said this year the charity is fortunate enough to have volunteers from 200 towns across Ireland which allows it to work on two different builds.
Simultaneously, one hundred of the Irish volunteers will work in the Eastern Cape on three projects building a classroom for 40 pre-school children at St Theresa’s Children’s Project in Kokstad, a new drop-in centre building in Mount Zion in Bizana in which after school care will be run for 120 children between the ages of 6-18 and a refurbishment project for a pre-school and drop in centre in Franklin.
The charity will have another building blitz in November which Mellon said means it will have helped 10,000 pupils by the end of this year.