The groundbreaking partnership aims to bring over 2000 volunteers from the”U.S.”and”Ireland”to the Khayelitsha township, located approximately 25 miles outside”Cape Town. Meaning Xhosa for “our new home,” Khayelitsha is one of the youngest and biggest townships in the”Cape”Flats area. The Blitz will take place at the overcrowded Site C, the oldest part of the township with only a few decent houses in the area.” In one week, volunteers will build more than 250 houses, as well as a community center, and a Garden”of”Hope. An additional 550 houses will be built during the year by township residents trained in the construction trade. “We”re looking for people who want to change the lives of hundreds of South African families forever,” says Mellon. “If you can”t come, maybe you know someone who can” a sister, a brother, a work colleague. Please help us spread the word because we need your help to recruit volunteers.” The sixth annual Building Blitz program is well underway with Irish volunteers, including more than 1,300 construction workers, already raising funds in Ireland to participate in the event.”Each volunteer must raise $8,000, which covers flight, accommodation, and construction costs for the houses. The Township Trust covers administrative costs. “Going into the Blitz, I didn”t know what”to expect. My Irish friend Gavin Bonnar has volunteered with the housing project for six years and has always”told”me, “it will change your life,”" says Dylan Hoffman, a 2007 volunteer from”New York. “I have always thought of myself as a giving person. I have supported various organizations such as the World Wild Life Federation and National Public Radio. I have also given annually to the police and volunteered on Thanksgiving soup lines. But I had no idea how much I would be affected by this experience. Handing”keys to a family that has been waiting 20 years for their home ” a home you built no less ” is an incredibly moving experience and something every human being”should”touch upon.”" Since 2002, NMTT has built nearly 5,000 houses in 10 townships in the”Western Cape”and 13 townships in”Gauteng, with 21,235 township adults and children moving into new homes in 2007 alone. The organization also works alongside the South African government to install running water and sanitation facilities and to provide children with a safe place to study and a dry place to keep their school books and uniforms. In addition, thousands of job opportunities have been created for township residents who have graduated the NMTT construction trade training program. “It gives us back our dignity to have a key in your own door and to open the door. It makes you feel human,” says Elize Tully, a new home owner from the Netreg township. 2008 volunteers, mainly from”Ireland, the”U.S., and other countries, including”England,”Wales, France,”Germany, the”Netherlands, Italy,”Finland,”Lithuania”and”Australia, will participate in the Blitz. More than 1800″Irish volunteers have already been recruited, including 710 “veteran” volunteers who participated in past efforts. Approximately 80 percent of the Irish volunteers are trades people, representing a wide variety of skills from carpentry to block laying. The remaining 20% will come from a diverse range of backgrounds, faiths, and professions. “Apartheid is over, but its legacy ” homelessness ” remains,” says Paddy Maguiness, Worldwide CEO of the Township Trust. “The”South Africa”government has built over 2 million houses for the poor since the fall of apartheid. Despite this achievement nearly 2.5 million people still live in shacks. This partnership adds a new dimension to existing efforts to change the direction of housing and poverty alleviation efforts in Africa and, by partnering with our friends across the Atlantic, we can make a real difference.” Many elected and government officials welcome the effort to bring Americans on board, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Congressman Charles Rangel, Congresswoman Carolyn Kilpatrick, the Congressional Black Caucus, and prominent faith leaders, including Diocese of Washington Rev. John Bryson Change. Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former South African President Nelson Mandela also support the initiative. About”Niall”Mellon”Township”Initiative
Since 2007, the Niall Mellon Township Initiative (NMTI) is a 501(c)3 tax-deductible not-for-profit organization registered in the”U.S.”All contributions are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. NMTI works in close partnership with The Niall Mellon Township Trust (NMTT) based in”Dublin,”Ireland. To learn more about the Building Blitz, visit www.you-tube.com”and type in “Niall Mellon Township Trust.”

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