Children from the township community expressed their joy and hope for a better future by welcoming volunteers off the plane at Cape Town Airport on the 7th of November. Work commenced immediately on the 8th with volunteers shuttled to the building site each morning at 6:45, labouring through the day and arriving back at their hotel no earlier than 18:45 every evening. So ambitious our transformation projects, volunteers agreed to our longest working week yet of any building blitz, and did so readily with smiles on their faces and a can-do attitude. The results were truly spectacular.
Our educational development work was split across 4 projects. The main site, Ukanyo primary school, reconstructed 11 classrooms and toilet facilities, replacing temporary structures with impressive permanent school buildings. 3 sub-sites were allocated volunteers, a special needs school and a day-care centre for older children. Building work included a 2-storey block extension, together with the unenviable but essential task of cleaning and renovating the toilet blocks at Kleinberg and Marine primary school. Volunteers took on their duties with gusto, never complaining and overcoming great adversity. While challenging, the benefits far outweighed the immediate hardship as volunteers could not help but acknowledge the imperative of their work and the visible deprivation that they would alleviate.
A day of labour is a long day, with volunteers pausing momentarily for morning break at 10 o’clock, a longer respite at lunchtime and a mid-afternoon rest before downing tools at night fall. Tea & coffee always in full flow, 300 sandwiches a-day provided and some two and a half thousand bottles of water consumed daily. With all that activity, it’s hardly surprising. While work took top priority, volunteers always make time to enjoy their life-changing experience. Time flies when you’re having fun, and time certainly flies on a building blitz. The highlight of the blitz week is of course the legacy of the foundations laid for generations of school children to come. Other highlights must be the shack tours and community visits, a hugely emotional, stirring experience for many of our seasoned and rookie volunteers. Breaks in the work-day saw entertainment from the school children, the musical group from Ukhanyo singing and playing for our volunteers, a local dance troop putting on a traditional performance and fellow volunteer and musician Dan Olsen serenading the team with his popular hits.
We applaud our volunteers’ spirit and remarkable enthusiasm. Were it not for their shared vision and common goal, resolve would surely have flagged long before the job got done. Suffice to say, the job got done and thousands of African children’s lives will be better for it. On the final day of the blitz, Niall Mellon and his volunteers handed the school over to the teachers and school Principal, Michael, to the delight of everyone, most especially the children. The achievements of 7 days will last a life-time. Thank you volunteers.