Sarah Fogarty writes of her second building blitz experience this year in her school yearbook.
On March 22nd 320 volunteers and I set off for Cape Town South Africa. This was my second trip with the Niall Mellon Township Trust and this time my dad and I were going to be joined by my mother. This year we were building and renovating a school in Imizamo Yethu which is in Hout Bay, Cape Town. Oranjekloof Moravian primary school has 1300 pupils and 36 teachers. The school was in a serious need of repair luckily we were there to make their school better and give them a better opportunity of a good education in a nice, clean and safe environment.
Each volunteer was split onto a different team and I was on the Royal blue team with 29 other volunteers from all over Ireland and even Canada. On the first day we were straight down to work. You could end up doing anything from moving roof slabs, roof tiles, blocks and painting. We were always kept on our toes and there was never a dull moment on site. This year was a lot different from the blitz in 2012. Every team was on the site together this time and you could be working with people from every team unlike the last time when you were just with your own team members.
The progress made in the six days on site was incredible! From new classrooms, murals, toilets and even a playground for the children to enjoy during lunchtime the site was nearly unrecognisable by the end of the week.
Imizamo Yethu has definitely a place in all the hearts of the thousands of volunteers who have been on one of the trips as it was the very first place the Niall Mellon Township Trust started back in 2002. Imizamo is a beautiful place full of amazing, kind and inspirational people. In 2002 although the volunteers were building houses they built the Irish Friendship Library in Oranjekloof primary school which is still remains on the school grounds in perfect condition. On Tuesday we visited the township. The township of Imizamo is situated on the side of a mountain and it’s very squashed and overcrowded. We visited a shack which had a family of seven living in it. The shack was tiny and the children even had to sleep on the ground. The conditions were awful it’s hard to believe they live in these conditions and it would really make you appreciate the small things in life like a bed. We also visited a crèche which was in a shack. There were thirty children attending this tiny crèche. On arrival the children all ran out and straight up into our arms. I’ve never seen smiles so big on the children’s faces they were so happy to see us. It made us feel good to know that in two or three year’s time some of these children will be moving into the classrooms we built. It really gives you a huge sense of achievement.
The week really flew by before we knew it was Friday and the Handover of the school to the principal. It was an emotional one to say the least, to see the children in their new and renovated classrooms and to see them so happy.After a very hard working week full of tears, sleepless nights, cuts, bruises, pains, laughs, achievement, lifelong friends, 8,000 cups of tea, 1,000 sandwiches and 20,000 bottles of water we had achieved our goal of giving the children of Imizamo Yethu an opportunity of a better education.