Wednesday 13 December 2017

Building blitz gets Friel-good factor as actress Anna pays surprise visit

Fergus Black

ACTRESS Anna Friel left the film set behind yesterday to experience real-life drama first hand in one of South Africa's poorest townships.

In a world far removed from the lights of the studio, the 34-year-old British film and TV star was mobbed by Irish fans during an emotional visit to Wallacedene.

It was here, in one of Cape Town's poorest townships, that 750 Irish volunteers have toiled away in sweltering temperatures during the past week to complete 140 new homes for the shack dwellers of the township.

And so moved was she by what she saw, Friel said she might consider volunteering when the next Niall Mellon Township Trust building blitz gets under way.

Accompanied by her daughter Gracie (5), Friel travelled to Cape Town last week to begin shooting her role in her latest movie, 'Treasure Guards'.

Yesterday, amid emotional scenes, she was present when the keys to the first new house were handed over to Sipho and Bongiwe Dweza and their four children.

"This is incredible," said the actress as she first visited the shack where the Dwezas have lived for the past 12 years and then their new home just yards away.

She watched as a delighted Bongiwe examined her new bathroom and two new bedrooms -- in stark contrast to the ramshackle tin shed where she and her family have lived for more than a decade.

And afterwards, Friel joined in as dozens of volunteers started singing 'The Fields of Athenry'.

"It really makes me want to volunteer and I might just do it," said the actress.

Irish Independent

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