If, I do make it this year…. It will be my fourth year travelling with the Niall Mellon Township Trust as part of a very large and amazing team to build the community gardens. And this year I only need to raise €4,250. I got a discount 😀
I’m a big believer in getting something back for your euro, where possible, even if it is for charity and there were a couple of suggestions in as regards raising a few bob.
So everything is for up for a few bob for charity. You can sponsor my podcasts, blog posts, throw money at me for the craic – pay me not to talk…. call me names for a tenner…. whatever!
And all you have to do is click the link and put some money in this my charity account. I’m open to suggestions….
The video above is the story from last year.
Fancy a chat….? The coffee pot is always on the brew or you can contact me via the following options.
And so just back from South Africa… [how have ye all been… 😉 ] I had managed to fall short of the €5,000 required to make the trip. The very kind people of the Trust had given me a little extra time to make the difference up.
With that in mind…. My sister Jackie [one of four of a rare yet beautiful species and previously a red head in a former life 😆 ] and her hubby-2-b Ciarán 😆 have decided to do this table quiz for me. [thanks Jackie] Also on the list is Quiz Master extraordinaire Michael Nugent… thanks Mikey 🙂
They say the gardening team were a special bunch. I’m unsure whether some meant that with a touch of humour…. 😉 But the truth is we were are. The reality is though that that humour is so necessary. When I think to one of last years highlights, that of Gerry taking the tv remote to work rather than his mobile phone… the milage 70 odd adults got out of that. Child like, maybe, but necessary.
With that in mind, it also summises the one thing you must bring with you on your trip and equally as important the one thing you must leave as home…
This year some of us agreed to lay amongst the random dappled paving *ahem approximately 3 metres of just pink and the white…. the laugh it got and I still smile when I see Adrian break out laughing followed by Betty asking who is that man…? as she nods toward head foreman Dermot. It lasted us the entire week…
If you were thinking of travelling across and you were on your own… you’re not. Everyone rooms in with someone. It was my room mate Padraic’s first trip. I never saw him until the Thursday 😆
On the gardeners first night that everyone was in Cape Town dinner was organised for us by one of our pink [t-shirt] ladies Rosetta. On the third night a karaoke inter team showdown was organised…. which the gardeners [jointly] won! It really is very much a case of as long as you have a name badge on you are not alone.
After hearing some of the school children sing happy birthday followed by It’s a long way to Tipperary to Anne Marie for her birthday… the highlight of the week for the gardeners[in my opinion] has to be Sluggers annual awards ceremony [the bit in the vid where we’re all in the school desks]. There were awards for best builders bum, legs, crappest workmanship, best excuse…. the list goes on. I won one of my two medals [yet again] for best chat up line… I have to thank [?!!] Niamh for this one 😉 It was just after 6am… or at least thats my excuse… 😆
Jees you’ve got lovely hair Elvis
The day starts generally with breakfast at about 6.15 – 7am depending. From there a coach brought us on a 20 minute jouney to the township from our hotel. Everyone is scanned in from the name badge. All t-shirts are colour coded. We had a morning break at about 10am and the lunch at about 1pm. From there is was straight through less a 3pm cuppa until 5, sometimes later. The coach then returned us to our hotels.
During the day, people were brought on a visit to a shack. I did this in year one. One meets a family who may be getting a house. One meets their family… gets an insight. If ever you doubted why you were there… that moment disappears within seconds of this. It is such an important part.
The work is hard. It is tough. I make no bones about that. Physically and mentally. One is away from home. One misses their loved ones, naturally. But what everyone takes from this is life changing and worth every sacrafice second of it. There are medics assigned to each team and believe me no stone in the preparation is left unturned. That said if you only came out to rub sun cream on builders legs, hand out bottles of salted water or plant one tree you have made a difference.
I remember on our final night. The rap party as it is called. Niall told the story of a man who went to the beach every day and threw a washed up starfish back into the sea. After some days of doing this every day, a man approached and asked why he bothers to do this…. after all they just keep on getting washed back up. What difference would it make? The man replied that to that one starfish, it makes a difference. That story is told by a man who every year I have gone has welcomed every single volunteer, individually off the plane from Ireland to thank them for coming.
To those of you who helped me out along the way… either by donation or just a helping hand while I was gone. To those of you who I had the honour of meeting while I was there and to those who are not mentioned here…. thank you, thank you and thank you so very much. I hope this goes a little to show my appreciation. You did make a difference.
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.
and what a weekend it turned out to be…. It was amazing.
To say I was blown away by peoples generosity is an understatement. Whether it was time, money or simply calling to wish only the very best – thank you all so much. You really did and will make such a difference. From my heart thank you! The *thank you* list here could only be endless so… if I have forgotten to mention you please hollar… you really do deserve it…
The setting of the Garden Exhibition Centre was always a great start and the sun made a very welcome appearance. Saturday started really well highlighted with 2 garden lectures. One from myself and the second from nice guy and fellow garden designer Damien Keane. But Sunday left most mesmerised when The Riptide Movement played the second tier of the mountain side based centre. Kilquade certainly came to life 😉
But it didn’t stop there… Dawn Ashton was also there creating amazing mosaics with the children. These will be brought to South Africa and used to decorate the walls of the garden. The staff of the Centre and so many garden designers turned out in their droves simply to be on hand to give out free advice where necessary.
Isn’t it amazing when an entire industry arrives to support such an amazing cause. Even Dominic Loughran, head of operations for the Niall Mellon Township Trust turned up with his entire family – and he flying out to S.A. today!
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