South African Build Blitz proved a life changing experience for NKC students

28th November 2017

North Kent College recently welcomed home three of their Construction students along with Deputy Principal Rhiannon Hughes and Carpentry lecturer, Andrew Martin, who returned from a week long life changing experience in South Africa courtesy of Mark Lindop, a local entrepreneur, who sponsored all three students on this amazing journey with Mellon Educate on “Build Blitz”.

From R-L: Kavan Swain, Andrew Martin, Rhiannon Hughes, Cameron Martin, Nancy Ford.

Following on from a competition to find three students who best demonstrated how their construction skills could change young lives in South Africa and bring education and all its benefits to 100s of children, the winners Nancy Ford, Cameron Martin and Kavan Swain flew out to Capetown to begin their trip of a lifetime, Friday 11th November.

They saw first hand how much the underprivileged South African children benefit from the work Mellon Educate does and how much pleasure and satisfaction the volunteers get out of their trip. 
They undertook projects in several areas including “Khayelitsha”, which literally means “new home” in the Xhosa language. It is a vibrant area but also one of huge deprivation where help is sorely needed. With a population of approximately 500,000, over half of the 118,000 households live in shacks made mostly of tin and corrugated metal and one in three people has to walk 200 metres or more just to access water. There are currently only 30 primary schools and 18 senior schools serving the township and the mission was to completely transform three of them!

The all-expenses paid, opportunity of a lifetime, brought with it a host of benefits to the students, not only improving their employability skills and work experience, but offered them the chance to build relationships with other like-minded volunteers, the local South African communities and experience life on a different continent.

Nancy Ford, said of her experience “I had such an amazing experience in South Africa. Other than making so many new friends and getting to work with all those wonderful people, I realised that throughout my week there I had cried more than I ever have before but I had also laughed more than I ever have. Seeing how people live and what they live in was extremely tough and heartbreaking for me. However, this encouraged me to do my very best to help change at least a part of their lives. Completing the schools and seeing the children was such a proud moment for me, I’ve never experienced a feeling like this and it was a heart touching moment. This experience was truly life changing and I am so thankful to be a part of something so amazing. I would also like to say a massive thank you to Mark Lindop who made this huge experience possible.”

Niall Mellon founder of Mellon Educate says “Volunteer fundraising is not just about building classrooms or physically enhancing schools. As an education charity, our goal must also be to improve the level of sustainable results in these schools. Once the building work has been completed, our top team of specialist educators begin to mentor the principal and teachers of these schools.”

Photo shows founder Niall Mellon and local school children.

Volunteers travelling to Cape Town included over people from Ireland, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Australia and South Africa, the United States of America, Australia, Germany, Holland and Spain. The 2017 School Building Blitz really was an incredible collective effort from all corners of the world. 

Rhiannon Hughes, Deputy Principal who self funded her trip to accompany the students commented “This volunteer experience has been life-changing for each of us who participated, and what a unique and timeless bond we have all created together.  Each one of us will have taken away something for ourselves in reflecting on this incredible opportunity.  I think I won’t ‘sweat the small stuff’ so much when really in the grand scheme of things they are not important. “


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