Three local men’s planned charity trip to Nairobi to help build schools has been placed in jeopardy following the four-day siege in a shopping centre.
SDLP councillor Declan McAlinden, his son Malachy and Ruairi Toman were due to travel to Kenya on October 11 for eight days.
However the charity with which they are going, the Niall Mellon Trust, held an emergency meeting on the current violence during which at least 69 people were killed in the Westgate shopping mall.
Mr McAlinden has been involved with the charity for the last seven years. “Its main aim is to provide proper housing and living conditions for families living in atrocious conditions in shanty towns in the suburbs of Cape Town,” he said.
“This year the charity decided to go to Nairobi. Their aim is to provide proper teaching facilities to enable the local children to have a proper education which is an essential and an important human right to any individual throughout the world.
“We are scheduled to travel out to Kenya on October 11 for eight days and with the present unrest this trip looks to be in jeopardy.
“This is quite unfortunate especially with all travel plans are in place and all the construction equipment delivered on site for us to begin to build of a new school for hundreds of kids.”
Mr McAlinden said he had been speaking to one of the charity organisers who said a meeting would be held this week. There is a possibility the trip could be postponed to a later date with the safety of 300 volunteers a prime concern.
He said: “I am not sure of the politics of this region but whatever their political views it does not justify the killing of so many innocent people out doing their normal day’s shopping. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those injured or affected by this awful tragedy.”
Mr McAlinden added: “I, along with my son Malachy and Ruairi Toman have spent this last year fundraising for this trip and would like to thank all who donated or supported our fundraising events.”
A trust spokesman said Niall Mellon had called an urgent meeting on Monday. “Top of his agenda is the stand-off in Nairobi. Niall is clearly concerned about what is happening at the Westgate Shopping Centre and the possible ongoing security threat. The security, health and safety of the volunteers always has been and always will be our number priority and we will have a decision in a couple of days whether the trip goes ahead as planned or whether we will postpone until a later date, or come up with an alternative.”