Two men from Roscrea will be joined by volunteers from Fethard and Cashel on a life-changing mission to Kenya next January to build a school for blind children who are sleeping 60 to a room in their cramped living accommodation outside the city of Mombasa.
Conor Ryan, Glenbeha and Willie Maher, Ballinakill are part of a team of volunteers being assembled by the Building of Hope Project to provide a boarding school for the blind children of Likoni many of whom have been abandoned by their families because of their albino features which give them the appearance of white children.
They will be joined on the project by Sandy Gleeson from Fethard and Anne Ward from Cashel who is encouraging more local people between the ages of 20 and 68 to give up ten days next January and join them on their mission of mercy to East Kenya.
“The blind children of Likoni are in dire need of our help. Some of them have been left by their families and their only home is the centre. There are three dorms sleeping 180 children. They sleep up to three to a bed, have no personal belongings, very poor sanitary facilities, no running water and once lessons are over in the afternoon, they are left outside in the blistering heat with no activity”, Anne explained.
The aim of the project is to take these children out of their current squalor and provide them with the best possible setting to ensure they can learn skills, build confidence and eventually return to their communities.
The 15,000 square foot building will provide residential accommodation for 189 children, incorporating a special care unit for children with multiple disabilities such as autism or epilepsy.
And it will be all completed within six weeks with each team of volunteers responsible for a specific phase of the project during their ten-day tour of duty.
The first team will travel to Mombasa on January 13 to lay blocks and build to roof level. The second team will travel on January 24 to roof the building and carry out plumbing and electrical works. The third team will travel on February 4 with plasterers, plumbers, carpenters and electricians completing the construction work. The final group will travel out on February 15 to floor, landscape, paint and tile. A group of environmental health officers will also travel to train up the catering and ancillary staff on site.
Building of Hope has already built a hospice in Port Elizabeth, South Africa with 167 volunteers working over 40 days and a polytechnic in Likoni with 200 volunteers working over 40 days.
Some 160 volunteers have already signed up from Clare, Monaghan, Galway, Carlow, Kilkenny, Dublin, Louth, Tipperary, Cork, Limerick, Laois and Wicklow for the 2012 project but the charity says it still needs about 40 more helpers. Each volunteer must raise €3,000 to cover the cost of flights, accommodation, food, insurance and the purchase of all materials for the project. The accommodation provided is of high quality and provided at low cost from supportive local hoteliers who understand the plight of the children.
Volunteers have raised money through various events, golf classics, table quizzes and concerts. Help is on hand from the charity with sponsorship cards carrying the registered charity number, t-shirts, posters and listings in event guides.
All volunteers should register by October 1. Anybody interested in volunteering or helping the project should contact Olive Halpin at 087-6994599 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or through the charity website, www.buildingofhope.org