New Niall Mellon project building classrooms in South Africa

320 Irish volunteers to start work on project

More than 320 Irish volunteers are due to arrive in South Africa today on the first Niall Mellon building project to focus on schools.

The Mellon Educate initiative is starting in Cape Town's Oranjekloof Moravian Primary School which has 1,185 pupils. More than 200 volunteers will build eight classrooms and a playground area over the next week while also improving existing facilities. A further 100 volunteers will build classrooms and a feeding centre in the Eastern Cape.

Mr Mellon said the project in the Eastern Cape was in a very rural setting and the students were desperately in need of educational facilities. “The 100 volunteers going to Kokstad will face a challenge to build new educational facilities but many are veterans and will leave no stone unturned to ensure the job is completed.”

He aims to improve educational facilities for 100,000 African children under the initiative. His charity has built more than 22,000 houses for 120,000 South Africans.

The Oranjekloof Moravian Primary School is in the township of Imizamo Yethu, the first township Mr Mellon entered after he first went South Africa.

“How fitting it is that our first South African school project takes place back where it all began,” he said. “When I announced that we are now focussing on education our aim of helping 100,000 children go to school in new and improved facilities seemed overwhelming but now I am confident that this can be achieved.”

He said he would be leading a second group of volunteers to South Africa in November and hoped that some 10,000 children would have better schools after the two building blitzes.

“As Nelson Mandela said: ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world’ and although building schools does not necessarily mean better education, it does mean a brighter better place to start,” he said.