Charity Boss Goes from "Boom to Bust"

Niall Mellon, the founder of the Niall Mellon Township Trust, has been the driving force behind the construction of some 11,000 houses for the poor in South Africa. Now however Niall faces his own struggle as he has announced that he has gone from “boom to bust” and has lost most of his wealth due to the recession.

In a recent interview with the Irish Independent Mr Mellon – who made his wealth through property development in Ireland and the UK – explained how the global economic downturn had hit him hard. “The past year has personally been a difficult one for me. I lost my wealth in the property downturn and I’m now back struggling to survive”, he told the Independent.

Mr Mellon established the Niall Mellon Trust in 2002 with the aim of providing quality social housing for the impoverished communities in the townships of South Africa. Since then he has worked as the unpaid CEO of the Trust, while continuing to also work as a property developer.

The Trust received a €5 million grant from Irish Aid last year and Mr Mellon has stated that he hopes to be able to secure additional grant assistance for volunteers, each of whom must raise €5,000 to take part. The Trust has also been buoyed by the recent news that the US Senate is now seriously considering it for US aid funding.

"None of this would have happened without the collective image of thousands of Irish volunteers working with us. And I am really proud for all our volunteers that their sacrifice and hard work has been endorsed now by one of the most powerful governments around the globe," Mr Mellon said said.

Despite the personal hardship he is currently facing, Mr Mellon refuses to give up: "I'm an all-or-nothing person and I've given everything to this charity and been rewarded 20-fold. It's a very special and unique and humbling feeling to be supported by your fellow countrymen and women to the extent that I have ... and I have seen the thousands of families whose lives we have changed in South Africa”.

Read the full interview with Niall Mellon here.