Ballyshannon woman Roisin Lee will be marking her 50th birthday by challenging herself to join a building blitz in South Africa.

Roisin Lee at pantomime rehearsals for Robin Hood

She is marking a special birthday year in her life by taking on a huge personal goal and a challenge to help others. This October, Roisin will be travelling to South Africa on a 7-day Building Blitz to help build schools in impoverished communities.

Roisin (49) is a mum of three who works in the HSE Dept of Public Health Medicine in Ballyshannon. As she turns 50 this April she will be dedicating all her energy to fundraising for her spot on the Mellon Educate 2017 Building Blitz.

Roisin needs to raise €4,500, and has a busy and exciting year ahead as she aims for that target.

“I’ve ever done any volunteer work before. I’m going to be turning 50 this year so it’s a turning point in my life. I’ve always talked about doing something, but then the kids came along and family life got in the way, so I said I’d do it for my 50th,” Roisin told Donegal Woman.

Mellon Educate is a Irish-based African development charity founded by developer and philanthropist Niall Mellon in 2002. Roisin learned about the charity from friends who inspired her to sign up.

“Life is going by so quickly so I’m going to mark by 50th by doing something for the community.”

Roisin’s children, two girls aged 18 and 16 and a boy, aged 10, were a little taken aback by their mum’s decision.

“My kids thought I was mad. But I’m fit, I’m able and I’m healthy so I thought why not? I’ll do it.”

Roisin and friends, who will all be celebrating their 50th birthdays this year

“I know it’s going to be hard work but I’m looking forward to it. You start at 7am and finish at 6pm. I could be mixing cement, digging, painting and general labouring. It’s a great chance to help people and I’ll get to see some of South Africa and discover a new country.”

Roisin taking part in a Vintage Fashion Show

“There are so many unfortunate kids there who would love to learn and have an education. They just were not born into good circumstances. They are so keen to learn and it will be lovely seeing them realise their full potential,” she said.

Roisin will be beginning her fundraising efforts with a fun event next Sunday 26th February.

“The Ceili and Old Time Barn Dance will be my first big fundraiser. I have lots of prizes and there will be great music from the  Assaroe Ceili Band. Everyone has been so supportive and kindly helped me organise everything. It’s going to be a great day.”

Roisin has a planner full of fundraising events. She is currently training for a sponsored 10K with the Cara Bundoran Run on March 11th. This will be another achievement for Roisin in her 50th year.

Roisin will be travelling out to South Africa with another Donegal volunteer, John Murphy, so they will be joining up on fundraisers in the months to come. They have a night of music, song, dance and drama planned for March 25th in The Thatch Bar.

Roisin’s 50th birthday party is going to be a big event for many reasons. On April 22nd she will have a fundraising party with family and friends. Instead of presents, she will have a donation bucket at the door.

These events, and many more are going to be keeping Roisin motivated as she prepares for her hugely rewarding trip. She will have the support of her family too. Roisin is a twin in a family of 11. Her mother, also named Roisin Lee, is 86 years old and would never have had a chance to take such an adventure, she said.

Roisin Lee and her mother.

Since 2002, Mellon Educate, thanks to the enormous collective effort of some 25,000 volunteers, has built houses for 125,000 homeless people in Africa’s poorest townships.

All are invited to come along to the Ceili, Old Time Barn Dance fundraiser next week at Dorrians Imperial Hotel, Ballyshannon, on Sunday 26th February 2017 – From 3pm to 5.30pm. Anyone who cannot make the event but wants to support Roisin is invited to leave donations to 33 Cluain Barron, Ballyshannon.

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