Thirty-year-old Pip Larkin from Mucklagh has been bitten by the charity bug. In November 2012 she visited South Africa with the Niall Mellon Township Trust for the first time. In March she went back again to help build new classrooms for the Oranjekloof primary school in Cape Town, and speaking to the Offaly Independent this week she said she really wants to do a third trip when she can.
Pip - the daughter of Maureen and Carthage Larkin and sister of Fiona, Damien, Claudette, Melissa and Ann-Marie - was one of 350 volunteers who travelled from Ireland to South Africa on the latest trip. On arrival on March 22, Pip was one of a group of 220 that headed for Imizamo Yethu to work tirelessly until March 28.
The Niall Mellon Township Trust has traditionally included workers from a variety of backgrounds, and Pip says nobody should be put off regardless of their skills.
“There’s a job for everyone,” she said, describing how she spent most of her most recent trip transporting cement in a wheelbarrow.
“Between March 22 and March 28 all the volunteers worked hard,” Pip said. “There were some tough wet weather conditions throughout our week, and the determination of all the volunteers was outstanding. Five hours blitz overtime were done during the seven days, with early starts Thursday and Friday and late finishes at the Imizamo Yethu school. Each additional hour with 250 volunteers on-site translates to six weeks of manpower. That’s a further 30 weeks of labour completed by the Irish team, that led to the refurbishment of some building and landscaping areas around the school grounds including a new playground. Hard work and pressure aside, the work done by the 220 Irish volunteers will radically transform the lives of those impoverished children through the power of education.”
Oranjekloof school caters for 1,300 school children from the township of Imizamo Yethu. The principal of that school was overcome with emotion when given the keys to the school’s new classrooms.
The last time Pip travelled to South Africa for the building challenge she was working as manager of Topaz on Tullamore’s Arden Road. Then her fundraising efforts were helped largely thanks to a €1,000 donation from a customer of the filling station.
This time around Pip’s work with Topaz is based in Dublin. However she said local efforts still made the difference when it came to her raising the €4,000 she needed to go to South Africa for a second time, and she thanked everyone who helped.