North Kent College welcomed home the lucky group of students and tutors, from their week long life changing trip in South Africa, courtesy of Mark Lindop, who sponsored three students and one tutor, to participate in an incredible experience with Mellon Educate on “Build Blitz”.

After entering the competition to demonstrate how their skills and passion to succeed could help change those less fortunate in South Africa, by providing a place of education to 100s of children, the winners Jake Ripley, Kieran Hewitt and Jordan MacPherson, flew out to Cape Town on Friday 16th November. They were joined by tutor Phil Miles and Learning Support Assistant, Debbie Risby.

They undertook projects in “Wallacedene”, the home to Irene Grootboom, the South African Housing Rights Activist. The mission was to build classrooms for both Enkululekweni Primary School and Hector Peterson High School.

This was the 4th time that Mellon Educate had returned to this township, and have built almost 6000 homes over the years; with many students of the schools now living in these houses.

Over the course of the week they helped to build 14 classrooms, 2 kitchens, 2 covered shelter, a playground, an out-door gym as well as create 2 sports fields on grounds that had been reclaimed from the City of Cape Town for the school’s use.

One of the students, Kieran Hewitt, said of his time:

“The 2018 Building Blitz was a life changing experience, one that will stay with me forever. I learnt a lot from the other volunteers and was able to use everything I know for a great cause. It opened my eyes to how lucky I am and has changed me for the better. To see how unfortunate the residents of Wallacedene are really hit me, and I will continue to do whatever I can to help them and support Mellon Educate. Without the Mellon Educate staff working tirelessly all year round, none of the work we achieved could have even been possible, and without Mark Lindop I would not have had this amazing opportunity.”

The all-expenses paid opportunity of a lifetime enable them to see first-hand how much the underprivileged South African children benefit from the work Mellon Educate does, whilst improving their employability skills and work experience.

Phil Miles, Bricklaying tutor, commented on how much of a difference that people can make when they come together saying,

“The build was hard work, rewarding, emotional but most of all very satisfying. To be part of the Mellon Educate family for those 9 days will be an experience that I will never forget. I hope one day I can return to South Africa to once again make a difference. A big thank you to Mark Lindop, for without him this would of not been possible, to the college for giving me the opportunity, to Debbie who worked tirelessly all week doing anything that was asked and making sure we all kept in line, and to the students- Kieran, Jake and Jordan, you were a credit to you and your families.”

Debbie Risby, Learning Support Assistant, who self funded her trip to accompany the students commented:

“It was the most amazing, emotional & physical achievement of my entire life and I feel truly blessed to have been able to have done this and be a part of this fantastic charity. I have memories that will last forever and I hope one day to return and do it all again. I am immensely proud of myself and my group at what we achieved.  The children were eternally grateful of our help, and constantly thanked us for changing their lives by providing a sustainable, secure and safe environment for them to learn and prosper. Many tears were shed throughout the week, and our strength and ability tested to extreme, but we soldiered on.”

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