Friday 21 June 2013

Habitat Team Jet Off to Zambia

Final preparations are underway for this year's Habitat for Humanity expedition to Zambia - our most ambitious project to date. This afternoon, the St. Columba's College Habitat for Humanity Team will jet off to Lusaka to begin their two week house building project. Led by Mr. Ronan Swift, the team, comprising of twenty pupils (forms Forms IV and V) and five staff in all, will work hard over the coming weeks on a number of houses in the Ndola region of northern Zambia. Preparations for the trip have been underway for the past 12 months, with an incredibly wide range of fundraising activities organised. These included barbecues, garden parties, coffee mornings, car washes, quiz nights, comedy nights, raffles, no uniform days and music concerts. Many of the team donated all their earnings from working part time to HFH. The team are also incredible grateful to the numerous people and organisations which donated to our cause, including the St. Columba's College Parents Association. 

Everyone has contributed to a grand total of €76,000 so far. This also means that the pupils, staff and wider St. Columba's College community have raised nearly €300,000 for Habitat for Humanity since 2005, money which has provided homes to families in Hungary, Ireland and now Zambia. For this we can all be immensely proud.

Stay tuned to the College website for news of our HFH team's adventures in Zambia. As one can imagine, internet access will not be available to the team while on their build meaning that this blog will not be updated live. However, we do hope to post date updates and photos on their return. We wish the team safe travel and every success.

Wednesday 12 December 2012

Fundraising Update

Fundraising for this year’s ‘Habitat for Humanity’ house building project is well under way. The twenty pupils and five staff travelling to Zambia next June need to fund-raise an ambitious €75,000 and are coming up with some imaginative ways to reach their personal target. Some of the fundraising activities this term have included: making and selling Christmas cards; a garden opening; a jumbo bake sale; coffee mornings; busking; selling traditional Kenyan trousers; a “mufti” day (no uniform day); a gala dinner & auction; a comedy night; selling candy canes and a car wash. We are also very grateful for a huge number of personal and corporate donations to the cause.  A particular note to team members Arthur Moffit, who raised nearly €3000 at a recently held garden opening, Charlotte Cooper, who raised over €1000 at a comedy night, Sadhbh Sheeran, who raised over €2500 at a coffee morning and to John & Sam Clarke who fundraised over €8000 recently by organising a gala dinner and auction. To date the team have reached just over €23,000 altogether.

Of course, there is still a long way to go but we are confident we can reach our target. More fundraising activities are planned for the holiday period and for next term, including an ambitious 300 kilometre cycle from St. Columba’s in Dublin to our name sake in Donegal. Stay tuned to the SCC Habitat twitter account or visit the SCC Habitat Blog (which admittedly has been a little quiet of late) for more information. You can donate to the SCC Habitat project online here.

Tuesday 18 September 2012

Upcoming Fundraising Events - Garden Opening & Comedy Night

On Sunday September 30th 2012, Arthur Moffitt and his family are hosting a Lunch & Garden Opening in Rockfield, Co.Meath. ‘Rockfield’ has an idyllic setting in the rolling drumlins of North County Meath, on the banks of the river Dee.  It is a traditional ‘mixed’ working farm.  The one acre walled garden slopes down from the back of the house to a small stream, running through the middle. The event begins at 12:30pm with admission of €25 for adults and €10 for children. Adults will receive a complementary glass on wine. For more information or to book contact Olivia Moffitt at 086 3541442 or email:

On Thursday October 18th, Charlotte Copper has organised an ADULT ONLY Comedy Night at Dublin’s Laughter Lounge (on Eden Quay, near O’Connell Street), beginning at 7:00pm. There are complementary drinks from 7:00pm to 7:30pm and a late night bar and DJ after the show. Tickets cost just €25 and can be ordered by emailing or visiting http:/ It’s a guaranteed great night out.

Tuesday 31 July 2012

Zambia - June 2013

We are delighted to announce details of St. Columba's new Habitat for Humanity project. In June 2013, 20 pupils and 6 staff will travel to northern Zambia for two weeks, helping to build new homes with the worldwide charity. The picture above is of rugby legend, Brent Pope during his recent trip to Zambia with HFH back in June. After four extremely successful trips with HFH to Hungary, we felt it was time for an even bigger challenge and Zambia seemed like the perfect project for our highly motivated pupils. The team will need to collectively raise close to €80,000 and the team are already busy fundraising during their summer break. Individuals can now make donations online using our new MyCharity webpage ( or participate in our various fundraising activities throughout the next 10 months - stay tuned to the blog to find out more. Below are the names of the pupils travelling to Zambia next June!

1. Ally Boyd Crotty
2. Eliza Hancock
3. Jessye Faulkner
4. Freya Pierce
5. Lydia Johnson
6. Charlotte Cooper
7. Bethany Sheill
8. Arthur Moffit
9. Sally Beeby
10. Sadhbh Sheeran
11. Harry Johnson
12. Sofia McConnell
13. Samuel Clarke
14. John Clarke
15. Mark McAuley
16. Aidan Chisholm
17. Brendan Dickerson
18. Molly Dunne
19. Julianna Huggard
20. Anna v. Schlintling

Image Credit: Ciaran O'Kelly

Monday 25 April 2011

Movie: Adventures in Miskolc 2011

It's been 10 days since we returned from Hungary and we have spent that time recovering from our exploits in Miskolc. It truly was a wonderful and memorable trip and we are lucky to have amassed a huge selection of photographs of our adventures. So we decided to put them to music and present them in a video. I hope you enjoy. (The first song, by the way, is from Ronan Swift - one of our team members).

Friday 15 April 2011

Day 10 - Screwing Around on Our Last Day!

Our final day on site and the team were all keen on making one final big effort to do as much as we can in our last hours on site. Again divided between Site A & Site B, the teams got through a mountain of work. On Site A, the team were busy cutting chipboard to completely cover the outer structure of the extension, screwing said chipboard to the frame (using hundreds of screws - hence the "screwing around"!), painting doors, treating wood and even raised the roof - literally by 5 more cm after the architect decided it needed a slightly larger pitch. 

Sandoor, our regular Site Supervisor, decided to give the rest of us a chance to lead the team - rotating the role every half hour. There were varying styles of leadership from Mr. Jones's "Simon Says" policy (which included an impromptu "Hokey Cokey" - well, Simon said!), Mr. Jackson's request that everyone speak in a Scottish accent and Zac Stephenson's "just keep doing what you're doing" style of leadership! Great fun was had on site but some excellent work too. It was particularly satisfying to see the outer frame covered which gave us a sense of the future shape of the extension.

On Site B, Levi entertained the troops while guiding them to further progress on the pathway. Team B enjoyed an extended lunch with traditional paprika sausage and treats from Levi but again were hugely productive, extending the pathway by another few metres.

Both teams were reunited for a brief time on Site A and got a chance to pick up some of the wonderful gift items the residents at the Symbiosis Centre make in the workshops. In the evening the team watched some young kids rehearse some traditional Hungarian dancing before our Farewell Dinner up on Symbiosis' hillside centre. After our wonderful BBQ, Sandor and Levi each spoke about the work we had done, Mr. Jones thanked the two site supervisors for their excellent work in supporting and guiding us. He spoke about how each and every member of the team had grown and matured in the last 11 days and that this was down to the wonderful working atmosphere created by the two site supervisors. The evening drew to a close with individual pupil awards accompanied by "alternative" team photos!

Our final day on site summed up the trip wonderfully - fun, productive and emotional. Many many thanks must go to Sandor and Levi for the tremendous work that they do for Habitat for Humanity Hungary. We feel privileged to have spent the last week or so with them and hope to see them again in the future. Here are some pictures from our last day on site.

Wednesday 13 April 2011

Day 9 - Hokey Cokey, Broom Cricket & Lots More Work

This morning we visited Zrinyi Ilona Gimnazium, a local co-ed secondary school with six hundred pupils. The principal Ildiko Kovacsne Szegedi welcomed us and then handed us over to teacher Istvan Berecz who paired us off with their pupils for an entertaining cultural exchange lesson. Hugo Hollis was especially enthusiastic about this and he appeared much more animated than usual.

Later on, a group of their pupils performed a quirky English language play about a bunch of useless first-time bank robbers who ended up trying to hold up a library. They also sang a variety of English and Hungarian songs for our entertainment. We were particularly impressed by a small boy who turned out to be an incredible human beatbox. We tried to match them with a Kezia-led rendition of ‘Wild Mountain Thyme’ and Zach and Mark’s take on that enduring classic ‘The Soup Song’. At the very end of the session, relations between Hungary and Ireland were cemented forever with the joint rendition of ‘Hokey Cokey’. The Hungarian pupils were sad to see us go as it meant they wouldn’t miss Maths.

In the afternoon, all twenty of us were together on the city site. Some of us sanded doors, some of us planed them, some varnished planks and some stripped paint off doorways. Mr Jones multitasked, hammering rafters into the framework of the new room we have been constructing, making fun of Jamie and Catie’s efforts in the same field and chirping his catchphrase, ‘We’re Doin’ It!’ at least fifty times. Neil was also very efficient, assisting Gaffer Jackson and providing a free life-coaching service to the sometimes beleaguered Levi.

Having the full twenty on site gave the afternoon a great sense of camaraderie and we ended the working day playing cricket/baseball with a broom and a rolled up work glove.

The Habiteers interact with Hungarian teenagers

Hugo makes some new friends 
Jamie & Catie - Hammering Machines!!!!

Jonesy & Jamo

Levi & Sandoor - our Habitat Co-ordinators

Levi ponders life (and what the hell Mr. Jones is doing up the ladder)

Hamish "The Hammer" Law

Pupils & Teachers Staining Wood

Work on the doors continues

Jamie & Jonesy Just Hangin'

Some of the girls check out the new extension frame.

Some of the kids at the end of the day.

Playing Broom Cricket

The Adventures of Philip the Monkey

Our 21st team member is a monkey, a crotch monkey. Please, don't ask us to explain but Philip has been the source of many a joke, entertaining quip and motivational speech during our first week in Miskolc. He has been busy, managing to mix business (mainly supervisory) with pleasure during the previous eight days. Yet he has maintained his dignity, sense of humour and general monkeyness at all times. Philip's owner, Jamie "Drill Bit" Boyd maintains "A monkey is for life, not just for Hungary". Thank you Philip the Crotch Monkey, thank you! Here are a couple of snaps (originating from the iPhone of "Zac Attack") of our furry crotch dwelling friend!

Tuesday 12 April 2011

Day 8 - Quick, Get Me The Angle Grinder!

Site B was a hive of activity as usual today. Team B (now very much jumbled up and resembling nothing of the original) were given a tour of the lower farm, partially to see the wood work and brick making workshops, but chiefly to burgle (guess who's writing this one?) back our tools from the local workers! When work began, the group were broken into smaller teams. The "smallest" team consisted of Hamish and Neil (The Hamster & Nails) who continued the laying of the kerb stones (the two have been honing their skills in following a plumb line over the week and are quite accomplished at this task). The ever present cement mixer was in constant use with everyone taking mixing, barrowing & skimming in turns. The teachers ended up with the most menial task of using a selection of brooms to sweep out the dusty covered walkway. The coffee break was longer than expected on Site B when Kez naively asked Levi about his previous career moves. The stories flowed like the tea!

Site A were focused on the erection of the roof rafters, each needing to be cut to size and wedges chiselled  to perfection to allow for a snug fit. The rafters were then nailed in place and bracketed securely. There were a few rogue nails along the way, which simply refused to follow the straight line path expected of them. A few expletives were heard and the angle grinder was called for on a few occasions (once to stir the tea). Other tasks on Site A included the never ending sanding and paint removal from some of the centre's old doors. However, many found this task both challenging and relaxing.

Both teams were rewarded with a slightly shorter working day due to the overtime hours worked on Monday. Tomorrow morning the pupils and teachers will visit a local secondary school before a later start on site at 10am. Everyone will be working on Site A tomorrow. All for now - off for supper soon (some of the team are lucky enough to be heading to the cave baths this evening) where surely plenty more potential uses for angle grinders will be explored!

The Frame at the End of the Day

Work over - "What's for dinner?"

They're Doin' It!!!

Day 7 - You're Doin' It!!!

Yesterday was another extremely busy day. On Site A, the small team there constructed the outer frame of the extension and put it in place. This was a significant moment as the once empty space finally began to look like a "room". On Site B, work continued on the astonishing wheelchair accessible pathway, foundations were dug for the wall extension (which at times resembled a muddy grave) while all day echoed through the trees the high pitched motivational wail "You're Doin' It!!!!!".

Yesterday evening the team all met to share their own personal experiences of the trip so far and to consider our high and low points. It was universally agreed that opportunities to share one's experiences in this regard help everyone focus on the task at hand and provide the team a platform for reflection on how fortunate we ourselves are. As part of the process, on Hungary's National Day of Poetry, several Haikus were written which summed up a multitude of the team's shared experiences. Tomorrow night the team will compete in a table quiz!

Levi's awesome jokes,
Fun and laughter with the blokes,
Helping Miskolc folks.

A hammer falls hard,
Driving down a lowly nail ,
Building through the pain.

Lifting the Frame in Place

God, I hope it fits!

It better fit or it's six sides of blue for you boy!

Ok, it fits!

Sandoor hammers the frame in place!

Job done!

Digging the grave (or foundation)

Nails Dalrymple takes his pick!

Smithers skimming concrete for the pathway

What's she doing with that?

I like to mix it, mix it. I like to mix it, mix it. She likes to .... mix it!