THE MOUNTCOLLINS man who is travelling to Africa to help build a school for blind children in Kenya has said that he has been overwhelmed by the level of fundraising support he has received.
Pat Lenihan, 59, is travelling to Mombasa in February with the Irish charity ‘Building for Hope’, who are to construct classrooms and dormitories for the school in the small town of Linkoni.
Pat, who tragically lost his own disabled son at the age of 23, said that his quest to help suffering and disadvantaged African children has struck a chord with people in his local community.
He said that thanks to generous support, he has almost reached his €3,000 fundraising target.
“It’s going well. I’m very, very happy with the response I’ve had over the last couple of months.
“People in Mountcollins were always very good, but you’d be surprised how many new people have come on board.”
Pat first became aware of the blind school project two years ago, after he helped ‘Building for Hope’ construct a technical school in Linkoni.
He said that while there, he paid witness to the conditions that the blind and abandoned children have to endure, describing them as “shocking”, with as many as three children forced to sleep in the same single bed.
The charity now intends to build a 15,000 square foot classroom and dormitory block for children between the ages of five and 16-years-old.
Pat, who works in Kostal in Abbeyfeale, will help carry out joinery and finishing work on the building.
He said that the facilities, when completed, will be a huge benefit to the children.
“The classrooms and the dormitories might seem a bit basic to us, but it’s luxury for them.
“Besides, once it does what it’s supposed to do, that’s the main thing.”
Pat has been fundraising for the trip for almost two years, but said that since his campaign was publicised in the Limerick Leader earlier this summer, he has received a significant boost.
“A lot of people have said it to me alright, and the money’s been coming in very steadily since. In a small place Mountcollins, you’re always worried about going back to the same people every time.
“But the fact that it’s every two years means it’s not as bad. I know people have it hard these days, but there’s always someone who’s worse off.”
He said that he hopes that a fundraising quiz and raffle due to take place at Tommy Mick’s bar in Mountcollins later this month will see him reach the €3,000 mark.
Olive Halpin, one of the founders of ‘Building for Hope’, said that the charity are still looking for labourers and volunteers to help with the Linkoni project, and anyone looking to find out about the trip can contact firstname.lastname@example.org, or log on to www.buildingofhope.org.