Life-changing trip to help in Africa

Ilkeston students during a previous trip to the Gambia
Ilkeston students during a previous trip to the Gambia

Students from Ormiston Ilkeston Enterprise Academy are preparing for a life-changing trip to a school in Gambia.

Thirteen students and two staff will make the journey in January 2014 to visit Sir Dembo’s Nursery and Primary School.

The academy has been supporting the school through its Every Last Drop charity since 2009, raising money to pay for improvements to buildings, covering teachers’ wages, paying rent and providing equipment.

This will be the third year that academy students have made the trip to Gambia but it will be the first time that they will have visited Sir Dembo’s on its new site.

The academy has agreed to raise £2,500 a year to rent the land that the school building stands on.

Students who are going to Gambia will also hand out educational and sports equipment, first aid supplies, clothing and mosquito nets that they have collected.

David Jenkins, college leader at the academy, said students were looking forward to the trip.

He said: “They will spend quite a lot of time in the school running activities with the children such as arts and crafts and sports.

“They will be mixing with the local children and seeing what kind of education they have and just getting lots of new experiences.

“This will be the third trip that we have run and students who come back often describe it as life-changing and they return as completely different people.

“It makes them realise how difficult life is for some people who have nothing. They are struck by how happy and friendly the people are despite having so little but what they do have out there is a sense of community.

“The students talk about it as the best week of their lives and they really enjoy it, particularly some of them who haven’t been abroad before.”

Mr Jenkins said a lot of students were shocked by the poverty they saw.

He said: “It really opens their eyes to what they have actually got and helps them to build empathy, it teaches them about what’s happening in the world around them.”

Student Charlotte Purnell, 17, will be going to Gambia next year.

She said: “We have been learning about the school as part of our studies so it will be great to go out there and see it for real. I’m looking forward to meeting the children and running the activities, hopefully giving them something to enjoy.”

Victoria Seals, 17, said she was really looking forward to the week-long trip.

She said: “Everyone has been talking about it and I’ve always wanted to go. I’m looking forward to working in the school and setting up the activities. It will be a totally new experience. I can’t wait.”

Students are due to leave for Gambia on January 28th 2014.