12 Dec, 14:42
Prop Cian Healy is expected to miss the start of the 2014 RBS 6 Nations after undergoing surgery on his injured ankle on Wednesday.
I travelled again, as I did last year, with my father Vivian, who was on his fourth trip, and also with my brother Manus - a member of Naas RFC.
It was a particularly memorable trip for many reasons, not least being the fact that my father turned 74 on December 3 making him the oldest volunteer 'on tour' (again!). His birthday was well and truly celebrated out there by the whole 'Emerald Green' team.
Not surprisingly, with so many volunteers travelling, there would have to be some of our rugby brethren involved.
All of those I found are also seasoned veterans of the Mellon Project. Paraic Beatty and John Cody of Barnhall RFC, both ex Presidents, Norman Finnie of Seapoint RFC was also there with his sons, along with his friend and Director of Youths & mini rugby in Seapoint John Power. Owen Cullen of Blackrock College RFC, a brother of Leinster captain Leo, was there again with his mum Paula.
On the last Friday night, in the convention centre in Khayelitsha, a township some 25 kilometres out of Cape Town, all 2000 volunteers came together for a final gathering to celebrate the achievements of the week - completing some 253 houses in one week.
Khayelitsha is one of the largest townships in Cape Town, being 'home' to over 1 million people. It is quite unbelievable to see the conditions our fellow human beings have to live in.
And while the work of the Niall Mellon Project is only a drop in the ocean in trying to alleviate the problem, it does make a substantial difference to the lives of the people there and also to those who experience the satisfaction of helping to make that difference.
For more information on the Niall Mellon Township Trust, please visit www.irishtownship.com.