Treorchy Comprehensive School

On the 15th July 2011, 8 students from Treorchy Comprehensive School embarked on an opportunity of a life time to Uganda. The students – Curtis Ball, Joseph Bevan, Lauren Evans, Aston Jones, Ashlyn Picton, Philippa Rees, Ffion Thomas, and Sabrina Waters (aged 16-17) – fundraised all of the money for the expedition themselves, over a 2 year period, with help from Geography teacher Esther Joseph who accompanied them on the trip. The team were also joined by another school from Redditch and this gave the students a chance to make life-long friendships during the 2 week expedition.

The purpose of the expedition was to help out a Ugandan community by renovating a classroom in a local school. The team managed to plaster, paint and lay a new floor in a classroom in Bukonde Secondary School and this work was greatly appreciated by the Headmaster and the students there. It was hard work, especially pumping and carrying litres of water up a hill in the scorching heat. The team were fortunate enough to have the experience of visiting the nearby primary school and meeting the children who studied there, all of whom were ecstatic to see them!
The team had to organise everything for themselves as part of the expedition, organised by World Challenge. This included booking transport and accommodation, handling their own money and deciding on what food to buy for the whole group. They all enjoyed dealing with the local people and gained a lot of confidence as a result.
The expedition required travelling to various areas of Uganda, and as a result the team had to make many journeys on public transport. This often meant being sat next to crying babies and squashed in next to a few chickens for several hours! Although this was normal life for Ugandans, the students couldn’t quite get over sharing a bus with chickens, and found it all very amusing.
To give the students the full experience of Uganda they had a few days as relaxation at the start and the end of the trip. They were fortunate enough to have an once-in-a-lifetime experience of an African safari at Queen Elizabeth National Park. This included a game drive and a boat tour on which they managed to spot an array of wildlife, including a lion! The team loved every minute, especially being able to see elephants in such close proximity.
The team rounded off their trip with a visit to Sipi Falls where they were taken on a guided tour of a plantation that grew and made their own coffee to sell. The students were able to be a part of the coffee-making process, including roasting and grinding the beans themselves. Their camp for the night was high up in the mountains surrounding the waterfalls and provided stunning views to wake up to in the morning.
After 2 weeks of basic pasta and rice meals, swatting away bugs, collecting water from half a kilometre away and camping in hostels and school grounds, the team left Uganda with a more positive outlook on life and a massive interest in helping more communities in Africa after realising the privileges in their own lives. The team have come back more confident and with lasting relationships with each other, after helping one another through the highs and lows of the trip. The expedition couldn’t have been more enjoyable, some of the students are even planning to go back next year!
Written by Ffion Thomas