Kilkenny charity volunteers were forced to postpone their upcoming trip to Nairobi following the attack on the Westgate Shopping Centre.
The board of Niall Mellon Township trust has taken a decision to postpone its large scale 350-strong Irish volunteer Building Blitz. The group had planned to fly out later this month.
“Our charity has earned a prestigious reputation over many years for the excellence with which we look after our volunteers. If I don’t feel we can take enough security measures to protect them, then we are not bringing them. We are postponing this current trip until a later date and will make a reassessment when the security threat level in Nairobi has reduced,” said Niall Mellon.
Having had over 20,000 volunteers working with us in poor communities we are highly experienced in handling various security issues and over many years, but the reality is that no one can protect such a high profile large number of volunteers (350) against a terrorist indiscriminately firing a machine gun at them if such an event was to take place .
“Yes of course I am extremely disappointed not to be bringing the amazing 350 Irish people who fundraised so hard all year but thanks to their fundraising efforts we are still going to get our two schools built and finished in Nairobi this year. Their security is always mine and the board of Directors absolute priority and we have reassessed the on-going security threat in light of what happened. It will take a few months to fully assess whether repeat attacks are likely. My highest duty is to protect them and this has been the overriding factor in the board of our charity unanimously supported my recommendation to postpone,” he added.
The charity is currently building schools and classrooms for 3,300 of the poorest Kenyan children in Nairobi as part of its new education initiative to. “We will finish this work no matter what” said Mr.Mellon. Using local Kenyan labour we have already substantially built the schools extensions this year and we will complete the final stage of this work before Christmas and make sure that the classrooms we promised for poor kids, are delivered on time, albeit without Irish Volunteer labour on this occasion, but with their funds’ he added.