OYD customer Ciaran Martin on his trip of a lifetime
Ciaran Martin, a 22-year-old plumber living and working in Milton Keynes, got an email from Only Young Drivers (OYD) in July to let him know that, in November, he was going to jump on a plane and fly to South Africa.
Thanks to sponsorship from OYD, Ciaran and another customer, Joe Phillip, flew out from Heathrow to Cape Town in early November to spend a week with charity Mellon Educate, helping to build a school in the Khayelisha township, one of the poorest parts of Cape Town.
Ciaran, who’s run his own plumbing and heating business for four years, has lived in Milton Keynes all his life. But he left behind his parents, who live five minutes away from him, and his partner Chloe for a week long trip of a lifetime.
Asked why he applied for the trip, Ciaran said: “I have never been to South Africa, but I wanted to do something to help the kids out there, and give them an equal opportunity in life. If they can get a good education, they can get a good job.”
“I didn’t believe I’d won at first, but then it was, wow, this is real, I’m going to South Africa to build a school.”
Ciaran’s first impressions of South Africa have stayed with him: “We got taken to an area where there was extreme poverty. The townships and shantytowns with houses built out of scrap metal. But we also saw where the charity had been very active already and had built better houses. You could see Mellon Educate were making a difference.”
Alongside 250 other volunteers, Ciaran joined the Mellon Educate ‘Building Blitz,” to build a school. “You would have thought they needed a plumber but it wasn’t ready for the plumbing. Instead I spent the week getting the library area finished: digging, helping to move the roof tiles and brick blocks, and clearing up and cleaning the site.”
Ciaran said 75% of the volunteers were from Ireland, and there were also plenty of Brits and a few Americans. “Yes, I made a lot of new friends. We stayed in a Cape Town hotel, and we had free time at night and at the weekend.” Ciaran said he climbed Table Mountain. “It took nearly two hours and we took the most difficult route, and although it was cloudy, by the time we got up it was night time and we had a fantastic view of the city all lit up.”
Now back in the UK and getting ready for Christmas at home, Ciaran looked back at what he called the experience of a lifetime. “I hope OYD do this again, and I’d recommend anyone to sign up. It was an amazing thing to go and help and get the opportunity to do that for free.”
“I’ve got plenty of photographs for the memories, and I’m going to stay in touch with some of the other people I met out there.” In the meantime it’s back to work for Ciaran, who has insured his VW polo through OYD for the last couple of years, but he also drives a Vivaro van for his work.