independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

Life changing trip for father and son team

THE 'experience of a lifetime' was how a Listowel father and son described their recent trip to the African community for which they raised over €150,000 in the past eight years.

THE 'experience of a lifetime' was how a Listowel father and son described their recent trip to the African community for which they raised over €150,000 in the past eight years.

Church Street native Willie Keane and son Billy are just back from a remote parish in the Arusha province of Tanzania where they were treated to just about the warmest welcome any outsiders have ever received there.

Over the past eight years Willie has been raising money for the community by organising all sorts of activities, including the famous XL Challenge across Ireland's highest peaks.

Son Billy came on board to help his dad in recent years and with the help of his employers and workmates in Abbeyfeale's Kostal plant has raised over €50,000 alone.

Together, they finally got to see the results of their great work - a completed school, clinic and parish centre that has transformed the lives of ordinary Tanzanians.

"It was unbelieveable, the whole trip, and very moving for myself and dad," Billy said.

"The things we take for granted here mean so much to them out there. On a previous trip Dad gave €1,000 to one man who went on to build a solid-brick home with it. It would look like a shed to an Irish person, but it's a mansion for that man."

Billy was also delighted to bring artwork from the children of Kilocrim NS's junior and senior infant classes - where his children Liam and Katie learn each day.

All the kids in Kilocrim became fascinated with the African community and were eager for Billy to bring their artistic scenes of north Kerry life out to their Arushan counterparts.

"The kids out there loved it but there was one thing they couldn't get their heads around - that people can complain about rain!" said Billy.

"If it rains even once in a 90-day period they can grow the crops they need to keep them fed for months. But if they don't get the rain, thousands end up dying. We take it for granted but it is life or death for them out there and one of our next big projects is getting a well sunk so they can access good, clean water."

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