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Students recall life-changing trip to Zambia

STUDENTS have been left humbled and inspired by the cheerfulness of people in an African community who face the daily turmoil of poverty and disease.

Sixth formers from The King’s Academy, Coulby Newham, will deliver special assemblies this week on their life-changing experiences after returning from a two-week expedition to Zambia.

Teachers John Belmont and Amie Eagling led the party, comprising Daniel Marshall, Joseph Dean, Harry Robinson, Molly Hall, Emma Hansen and Abbie Johnson, all 17.

zambiaThey joined students from their sister schools in Emmanuel Schools Foundation –  Emmanuel College, Gateshead, Bede Academy, Blyth, and Trinity Academy, Thorne – on the epic trip.

While there the students soaked up the local culture, sampled basic African cuisine, worked in home based care for the elderly, taught orphans at Donata special school, which looks after 50 children with a variety of disabilities, and got involved in building projects.

They also experienced life in the bush on an expedition to Mount Mumpu, the highest freestanding peak in the country, sleeping out under the stars with only mosquito nets for cover and deadly poisonous black mamba snakes and scorpions for company.

The people literally had nothing but were so friendly and cheerful,” said Emma.

“At one of the villages we opened a packet of coloured pens and they had no paper so just drew all over me, but only numbers and shapes because they couldn’t write. The children loved playing all sorts of games with us and showed us how they valued spending time with us so much more than material things, and I think we should really learn from this.

“We gave one little girl a purple balloon and she ran off in wonder laughing and giggling. She was so cute. It has given me a different outlook on life and I am hoping to go back during my gap year to work in one of the schools.”

Molly said:

Molly HallOur first and most moving visit was to a lady named Rosemary who had leprosy and aids. Although we were told not to show or feel sympathy towards the families we met, it was almost impossible and made us both cry.”

Harry added:

I was quite nervous about what we would find but every day was amazing. Everyone had a smile on their face even though they had nothing. The disabled children had even less and one boy found himself cast out for having a stammer. Even though we are back here we think about Zambia every day.”

They said climbing Mount Mumpu was a true test of their stamina and friendship and reinforced bonds in the group.

Mr Belmont said:

It was great to see how well the students interacted with each other and the Zambian community and responded to the considerable demands of the trip. I think they should all feel exceptionally proud of themselves and everyone has certainly noticed a difference in them since they returned.”