niall mellon township building blitz 2009

update: table quiz dec 3rd malahide…?

950 Volunteers – 1 Week – 200 New Houses



Wallacedene, Cape Town, South Africa.

My third year to travel with The Garden of Hope Team, this year was always going to be yet another amazing project. As most of you know by now, I travel not to build houses but as part of a team of gardeners to, this year, build a community playground, football pitch and vegetable and fruit gardens.

What we didn’t bank on was the rain…. and by God did it fall.

But the options were….? We did have one half day of rain stops play… we then worked through as it got worse to make up the lost hours. And in the end it did work out. The sun started shining. It was always gonna happen 😉



I’ve had to pause here writing this post…. It’s upsetting to be honest. My voice is gone. My bones are sore. There’s a pride inside me for what I as part of a team did… and then I think that maybe I could have done more. I’ve tears in my eyes. I’ve turned on the heating and type on my laptop and I’m trying, really trying not to write a sad post. Maybe to speak of the families and children with HIV and on housing lists for over 20 years…. when the rain came down one of the guys was telling me of a man they met with a frying pan trying to keep the water from his shack. I doubt he slept that night. But the people are so happy, friendly and polite. The children still smile. To see them dancing in middle of the water feature… that was the moment I took. Maybe I’ve numbed slightly to it after 3 years…



I heard of one lady. Originally from South Africa. She works in a pub in Ireland and for the last five years has saved her tips. This year she done the trip. She paid €5,000 to come to South Africa to work. The same as all of the Irish did. I worked with ladies in their 60’s and 70’s who laboured as myself and Colin lay cobbles. I met people who had lost loved ones so recently. Those who had no jobs to return home to in Ireland…. I’ve just thought of them too.

I’m gonna sit and have a cuppa now. The vid is done. I have some writing done here and a blog post to thank you all so much for your support. In garden terms… I think you’ll agree the volunteers made the best of it and kept the smile sunny side up… More than that – I know you will agree that our new friends in Wallacedene love it.

Thank you all for everything…. see you in a little.

to read post no. 2 of the journey – click here

I’ve uploaded all of my 2009 blitz images/ photographs here

A great overview of the entire week can be read on the official Niall Mellon Township Trust blog – click hereReblog this post [with Zemanta]

17 replies
  1. Dawn
    Dawn says:

    Hi Peter,
    You raised my spirits so much with this video!
    thank you.
    Missed being with all of you there this year & though I won’t be there next year I will be back in the future to work with the children (big kids & little kids!) haha
    Congratulations to all of you
    X Dawn

  2. Peter Donegan MI Hort
    Peter Donegan MI Hort says:

    Hey Dawn,

    the mosaics in the benches where amazing 🙂 and it was great to see that little bit of you in the township.

    I’m guessing the DErmot ‘do it agaain’ bit made you smile 😆
    See you soon

  3. Dawn
    Dawn says:

    yes what a laugh – Dermot ‘do it again’ – brilliant!
    would love to see pics of bench & mosaics if any are going around!
    x Dawn

  4. Pat FitzGerald
    Pat FitzGerald says:

    Hello Peter, Well done on all the work, I am just back from 10 days Japan great to see your posts on your work in South Afriaca. Well done and a credit to all there.


  5. Dawn
    Dawn says:

    Hey where do the flags come from against our names?
    havn’t you any red hand of Ulster ones ………. hahaha
    you know me love to start a riot X

  6. Peter Donegan MI Hort
    Peter Donegan MI Hort says:


    If you were to start a riot, it would most likely be in a pantomime [as part of the act] and I would laugh a lot 😆
    It comes down to [as far as I’m aware] you’re IP address / computers location….
    proves very handy when commenting horticulturally as to people saying ‘….you cant grow that plant there….’ then you find they may live in australia and we live in Ireland. 😆

    still laughing!!
    Bye for now Dawnio 😉


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