Caring students return from African adventure

Caring students return from African adventure

24th September 2013


STUDENTS who braved poisonous snakes and spiders to help people in Africa are sharing their experiences with schoolmates after returning from an expedition that has changed their lives.

Young people from The King’s Academy carried out home-based care for vulnerable people, got involved in building work and worked with orphaned children with HIV in Zambia.

They were part of a 24-strong group of students from schools in Gateshead, Blyth and Doncaster that are all part of the Emmanuel Schools Foundation.

Working with Lifeline Zambia, they spent two weeks working in Miloso in an area ravaged by poverty and HIV.

They were also taken into the bush where they climbed Mumpu, the highest freestanding peak in the country, sleeping out under the stars with only mosquito nets for cover.

The trip proved harrowing and rewarding in equal measure as the students experienced life in an impoverished country on the other side of the globe.

The King’s Academy party comprised Tom Carling, Ben Warren, Sarah Dyson, Jessica Welburn, Stephanie Hooper and Jack Saunders.

Jessica said: “I have never cried so much in my life; seeing all the little children with absolutely nothing, yet they seemed so happy. Nothing can prepare you for it.”

They were also struck by the stark contrast of poverty and affluence living side by side. Ben said: “We didn’t expect to see such poverty with luxury right next door.”

Tom added: “We went to a state hospital and the queues were massive. One man had a massive gash in his head and had been waiting so long that the blood had dried. Then we went to a private hospital with all the equipment and it was empty.”

During the mountain climb the students stumbled across a dead zebra, believed to be the victim of a bite from a poisonous snake called the black mamba. “And we were just walking through long grass in shorts,” said Tom.

Their guide also had to remove another poisonous snake that strayed into their camp while vultures circled overhead and a goshawk flew off with a snake in its talons.

All the students agreed the trip had changed their view of life. “We know now that we have nothing to complain about,” said Jessica. “We are so privileged living in Britain but we would all love to go back to Africa.”

Vice principal at The King’s Academy Gary Wiecek said: “The aim of this annual expedition to Africa is for our students to make a difference to the people there, even just for a day by giving their time and helping.

“The reality is that the experience makes a real difference to our students for the rest of their lives.”

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