320 Irish volunteers travel to South Africa to build school in a week
SOME 320 volunteers from all over Ireland are travelling to South Africa where they have a week to build a new school and drop-in centre.
This is the first building blitz for 'Mellon Educate', an extension of the Niall Mellon Township Trust which constructed 100,000 houses for the South Africa's poor between 2002 and 2012. The charity is now focusing on the educational needs of children in the country.
Unlike previous years, the group of volunteers will be split into two, with one group constructing a pre-school facility and drop-in centre near Durban, while the remainder will transform a school in Cape Town.
Almost 1,200 pupils attend the Oranjekloof Moravian Primary School in the township of Imizamo Yethu in Cape Town.
Over the course of a week, Irish volunteers will build new classrooms as well as improve existing facilities.
Meanwhile, on the eastern cape, some 100 volunteers will be working on projects run by Friends in Ireland.
There the volunteers will be building a classroom for 40 pre-school children at St Theresa's Children's Project in Kokstad, near Durban, as well as working on a new drop-in centre in Mount Zion in Bizana in which after school care will be run for some 120 children.
Developer and philanthropist Niall Mellon says they are in fortunate position to have enough volunteers to work simultaneously on two projects in different parts of the country.
After the construction has finished, Mr Mellon said they will continue to work with teachers and educational officers at the after the build has been completed.
"We are immensely proud to give these students educational facilities which we take for granted at home," he said.
Some 33,000 people live in Imizamo Yethu and almost every household has a child going to the Oranjekloof Moravian Primary school.
It is this school that the Irish volunteers will plaster, paint, build and put every effort into making it brighter for the students now and for the future.
The build in the Eastern Cape is in a very rural setting and the students are in much need of educational facilities.
For more information on the Mellon Educate building blitz: www.nmtownshiptrust.com