Friday 17 November 2017

Forward thinking: rugby stars build hope

Sarah Murphy

A team of four rugby legends along with a gang of volunteers took a well-earned break from building homes in Africa over the weekend, as they watched Ireland take on New Zealand's All Blacks in Auckland.

Rugby pundit Brent Pope, with former rugby greats Paddy Johns, Liam Toland and Angus McKeen, donned their hard hats, working gloves and took up their trowels to build four homes for impoverished families in the Chipulusu township of Ndola in northern Zambia.

Along with 24 hardy Irish volunteers, the team travelled to Zambia as part of the Brent Pope Rugby Legends Tour and Habitat For Humanity Ireland.

They aim to raise awareness of the work the charity does, not only in Africa, but at home in Ireland and in more than 90 countries around the world.

The primary aim of the charity is to build homes for the less well off worldwide, encouraging people to put down roots in one community.

The homes are not donated free of charge but the homeowners put in what is known as "sweet equity" by being involved in the building process and paying no-profit mortgages.

President Michael D Higgins officially marked the opening of some homes in Inchicore last April which was backed by Dublin City Council.

The teams started their build in Zambia last Friday.

"This trip is all about getting out of your comfort zone," said Mr Pope.

"A lot of the people who have come out on this trip don't have any experience in building but they are ready to get involved." All the volunteers and former rugby players stayed in houses within the community.

Irish Independent

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