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Irish volunteers to give Kenyan youth a chance

TO continue the goodwill started two years ago and to bring further new hope and joy to the people of Mombassa, Kenya's second largest city, 200 Irish volunteers have travelled to Africa to help give young people a chance in life.

The first 50 volunteers, mainly made up of block-layers, set out for Mombassa on Friday for 10 days, and three other groups will follow over the coming days to provide a 10,000 sq ft education and training building, which will also include a feeding centre.

"Setting up an education centre where youngsters can learn skills and a trade will give them a chance to support themselves and their families with dignity and a means out of the poverty trap. People have no skills so we will be building a kitchen and hairdressing unit and computer section to teach skills," said project co-ordinator Olive Halpin, a Clare woman who had the vision of hope, and out of that hope grew the Building of Hope Project.

The location of the centre is Migombani in the south suburbs of Mombasa, a city with a population of three million.

Fr Martin Keane, who hails from the parish of Cranny in Co Clare, is a Holy Ghost Missionary Priest and the driving force behind the Mombassa project.

He runs a project there which helps to educate youngsters from deeply impoverished families and save those who are little more than children from a life of prostitution and desperation-driven crime.

On a recent visit to Ireland, Fr Martin described life in Mombassa: "There is very little future. The young turn to drugs and the girls turn to sex tourism to survive. They even become the breadwinners for the family by doing this".

Ms Halpin added that "the training centre could not happen without the 200 volunteers who have worked tirelessly to raise the funds to build the centre and who are all giving of their time freely.

"These are the real heroes of the project as well as all the people both locally in Co Clare and at a national level who supported the project financially and supported all the fundraising efforts.

"No words can express my thanks for making Fr Martin's dream becoming a reality," Ms Halpin said.

You can find out more about the Mombassa project at www.buildingofhope.org

Sunday Independent