Posted by Paula Cullen on 15 Nov 11
Today (Sunday) saw the remainder of the 615 volunteers arrive safely to Cape Town. Some of us where lucky enough to be on earlier flight and were able to do a half days work yesterday. This year the volunteers are dived into 10 construction teams along with a gardening team and a medical team. I am on the maroon team and it was fantastic to catch up with many of the 2010 team members who have returned for this blitz.
This year the maroon team has 62 volunteers, 12 of whom are rookies. Amongst these 12 are transition year students from St Leo’s College in Carlow. These Carlow Chicks at 15 and 16 years of age have been working flat out since their arrival on site yesterday. Let’s hope that their enthusiasm continues for the rest of the week!
We are working in Witsand, a township 40 minutes north west of Cape Town. It is one of the poorest townships outside the city and with a population of 10,000 people, the town has no electricity or sanitation. One portaloo serves 100 people! The nearest school is 5km away in Atlantis and children have to walk as there is no transport. Unemployment is over 70%. The surrounding countryside is very vast with large tillage farms where a small percentage of those employed get part time work from time to time. Niall Mellon the founder of the charity spoke to the volunteers today and gave a moving speech quoting his great friend Nelson Mandela who said that “the power of the collective” is how he describes the Irish volunteers who continue to come to South Africa to help those less fortunate than themselves. Niall made special reference to those who had come here this year despite their own problems at home proving to the world the generous nature of our Irish people.
The Builders will continue until Friday and hopefully at the end of the week we will be in a position to hand over at least 80 houses to their new owners. A dream comes true for so many families and their children. I myself met a lovely elderly lady this afternoon with a little 4 year old boy who had lost both of his parents through AID’s, his only surviving relative is his grandfather who is dying. This lady had taken this fellow off the streets and given him a home-unfortunately only a shack-but she lives in hope that she too will receive one of our houses someday. We the volunteers can only thank you our sponsors for all your support in helping to send most of us to help this community. It is your generosity that makes this trip possible.
Our work continues tomorrow with a 7am pick up at our hotel. We will continue to represent you all out in Witsand and will keep you up to date with all our activities.
Thank you for your support Paula Cullen (Maroon Team)