Kevin’s Story

Kevin Higgins volunteered for the Mellon Educate building blitz for the first time in March. His crusade was a special one, as is the story of every one of our volunteers. Today, Kevin shares his.

“Over a year ago, I was asked to do something that would change my life. Through my faith in God, and in appreciation for everything in my life, I offered to do something for Him. 2 weeks later, before Sunday mass, Iggy Flannery, sadly no longer with us, asked me to take his place on the next Niall Mellon blitz. This was something I never would have considered, I was stunned. After initial reservations I signed up. To Kenya I would be going. The shock news that we subsequently could not travel there was heart-breaking, but when man closes a door, God opens a window. Kenya and our new destination South Africa would both get schools.

With 2 suitcases packed with toys and clothes, (Hilary my wife was busy), I headed to Dublin airport. On meeting the Volunteers there, I knew at once this trip would be amazing. Rarely have I witnessed people so full of joy. This trip had to be all about the South African children, so I decided not to have any alcohol while I was there, not easy, as I love South African wine!!!

Kevin Higgins VolunteeringFrom the moment we arrived, the work began. Truly I have never witnessed such dedication to help our fellow man. The speed of build was incredible. The yellow team I was part of, painted and renovated the older classrooms. Life stories were exchanged, friendships made. I looked on in awe, especially at the women volunteers pushing their wheel barrows , what dedication in difficult conditions. The new classrooms took shape, the new children’s playground filled me with a childlike wonder. The visits to the shanty town filled me with sadness, but the children there showed us so much love. All they wanted was to have their picture taken. They asked us for nothing. Even the horrific fire there could not dampen our spirits for long.

Kevin Higgins Volunteer TeamGod had a plan, 8 new classrooms and a playground. On our last working day, the children waited from 8am to 2pm for the opening of their new school. They did not complain. Their joy was truly beautiful. The children packed the playground, Irish flags flew high, teachers faces beamed, volunteers and the school principle cried. We had made such a difference to these children’s lives and our own. We were giving them a brighter future, Mellon Educate was working.

As I sat quietly in a corner of the playground, 5 of the children hugged and thanked me for their new school. Now it was my turn to shed tears. This precious moment will be with me to the day I die.

Well done volunteers. Thanks so much Niall Mellon. Roll on the November blitz. I can hardly wait. My final thoughts are of my faith. Even if a volunteer does not openly express a belief in God, God believes in them. If he didn’t they would not have used their talents and skills to complete a school in a week. I will never forget you Imazimo South Africa.”