Wednesday, December 21, 2011
With just over six weeks left until they leave on a life-changing mission to build a boarding school for blind children in Kenya, volunteers with the Clare-based Building of Hope charity were told of the big challenge that lies ahead for them at an information meeting in Ennis last week-end.
Almost half the volunteers are from Clare and 187 of them were in the Old Ground Hotel on Saturday night to hear details of the plan to build a school for the children who are sleeping 60 to a room in their cramped living accommodation at the Likoni school outside the city of Mombasa.
Building of Hope patron Derek Davis told the volunteers that there was great credit due to them for making such a fantastic effort in raising not just the cost of their flights and accommodation but also the cost of building materials.
Project co-ordinator Olive Halpin said that the 15,000 square foot building would provide residential accommodation for 189 children, incorporating a special care unit for children with multiple disabilities such as autism or epilepsy. It will be completed within six weeks with each team of volunteers responsible for a specific phase of the project during their ten-day tour of duty.
She said it was heart-warming night to see so many people gather together to help children who have been living in such terrible conditions in a far away land.
The meeting was also addressed by Brian Allen, chief executive of St. Joseph’s Centre for the Visually Impaired, who will oversee the transition from the old buildings to the new facility. He said the building would match the standard of similar facilities in any European country and they would supervise and provide the rollout of professional training to the school staff in the areas of mobility and self-care skills.
“The resources provided to the children will upskill them in IT skills, braille and other communication tools for the blind. A vocational training programme for the older children will be sourced locally through the polytechnic beside the school, “ he said.
He paid tribute to all the committee for all the hard work they had put into the project over the past year. Highlighting the fact that they all work on a voluntary basis, he said that every penny raised for the project goes to the project.
The first team of volunteers will travel to Likoni 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 the catering and ancillary staff on site.