This summer eighty Slí Eile Volunteers went to South Africa to work on two projects – the building of a three-classroom school block for Ntabeni, JSS, Hillside, and the building of an eight-cubicle toilet block for St. Matthew’s JSS, Mukoba, both schools under the shadow of the Drakensberg mountains in South Africa’s Eastern Cape. The overall aim of the project was to help orphan and vulnerable children in that AIDS-torn environment. The volunteers were 2009 Leaving Certificate students and their teachers from Clongowes Wood College, Belvedere College, Coláiste Iognáid, Crescent College Comprehensive, Terenure College and Loreto Beaufort. Slí Eile organized the project, in partnership with Friends in Ireland (FII), the Irish NGO established and run by John Clarke and R.T.E’s Marian Finucane, who visited the projects this summer. Read more.
Five different groups went to South Africa and worked on the building sites in consecutive two-week slots. Over the course of their stay they also helped out in the classroom, teaching mathematics, english, science, geography and history and which was extremely well received by both the schools and the Department of Education of the Eastern Cape.
In addition, each volunteer group was helped to reflect on their day-to-day experience through group morning prayer on site, guided reflection times, sharing at mass, and inputs on the work of FII in South Africa, and on the HIV/AIDS pandemic as experienced in the locality. Every second sunday we were welcomed at Hardenberg Mission, run by the Franciscans, and by the parishoners where our volunteers were exposed to vibrant Sunday liturgy African-style which proved to be one of the most memorable experiences of the project for many.
Recently, forty five of those volunteers gathered at Slí Eile, Jesuit Centre for Young Adults for a Reunion of the project, when all of the groups got together for the first time. They were warmly thanked by John Clarke FII and Padraig Swan, Director, Slí Eile for the huge effort each volunteer (and in some cases, their schools) made in raising a total of €55,387 which paid entirely for the two buildings they worked on during the ten weeks. The photograph above shows John Clarke (left), Friends in Ireland, receiving the cheque for €55,387 from Padraig Swan, Director, Sli Eile. Well done to all of the volunteers and to their schools and especially to everyone who supported them in raising funds!