20,000 Houses Built
On Friday, November 9, Cashel Community School waved goodbye to six sixth year students who set off on the week long building blitz in South Africa. The following Sunday morning, the six were among a group of over 600 hundred volunteers marched onto site at Wallacedene, which has a population of 21,000 and is one of the poorest townships in Cape Town.
During the week the CCS students embraced life on site - classwork and evening study were swapped for painting, varnishing and roof insulation. The students met volunteers from all walks of life and many were impressed that Cashel is still the only school in Ireland with six consecutive blitzes to its credit. The students, accompanied by teachers Caitriona Ryan and Michael Purcell, also got the opportunity to visit the local crèche and also to make numerous shack visits which were very emotional experiences.
At the end of the week the students, as part of the Emerald Green team, witnessed the handing over of one of the new houses to a family. All six students agreed that this was the highlight of the week.
Niall Mellon himself met with students and praised them for their continued support of the Building Blitz.
The students also got the chance to visit the township of Imizamo Yethu, the first ever township that the Niall Mellon trust was involved in. This particular afternoon was very difficult as they witnessed how hard life is in the local townships. A soccer match that evening between the volunteers and the Imizamo Yethu soccer team made this an unforgettable experience.
The 2012 Building Blitz was fantastic, full of hard work and varied emotions. The six students arrived back to CCS on Monday morning, November 19. Since then they have been busy preparing presentations to give fellow students a glimpse of life in South Africa townships.
The journey to South Africa meant a huge fundraising effort from the Niall Mellon school committee, school management, students, parents and wider community. The CCS team of students and teachers wish to thank everybody involved for helping them be part of this very special week, where over 600 families received solid homes for the first time in their lives.
This was the last of the building blitzes in South Africa; the next focus will be on Kenya.
All at Cashel Community School are very proud to be part of the reality that enabled this years’s t-shirt slogan to read: ‘100,000 people housed in 20,000 houses”.
Little did Mr. Brendan Ryan - whose brainchild this school project was – think at the beginning that six years later the school would have sent 34 students , five staff members and raised over E220,000 for the Niall Mellon Building Trust. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”