Leighton Park students inspired by visit from Ugandan Orphan

19 Jun 2015

The planning stages for Leighton Park’s next Sixth Form Africa Trip will be taking place in the next few months, and students in Year 11 and Lower Sixth will soon be given the opportunity to decide which country they wish to visit. A key highlight for students from Leighton Park’s Sixth Form is the biennial trip to Africa, which involves travelling to one of three countries in Africa to support charitable work in local communities.

Over the years staff and students at Leighton Park School have developed some lasting friendships with individuals from these communities, with many return visits taking place outside of the Sixth Form trips to observe the work that has taken place over years and to see the friends they have made.

Yesterday morning students from year 7 to 13 heard from Nellie visiting Leighton Park from Jinja in Uganda during Collect. Nellie grew up in Uganda at Son Rise, an orphanage set up by the Jinja Educational Trust which takes in babies, young children and girls abandoned on the streets between the ages of 10 and 16. She now works full time with the Jinja Educational Trust on educational projects, helping teach children from surrounding villages, including enhancing their knowledge of English through the reading and study of literature.
Leighton Park School supports projects in Africa beyond trips and visits, with a range of year groups fundraising through a variety of projects throughout the year. In the 2013 Autumn Term, Year 8 students launched in a ‘Water4All’ project with the mission of “raising funds to help people gain access to clean water, raise awareness, promote understanding and educate others through fun community projects.”

From a range of imaginative fund raising activities, including an activity day with pupils from a local primary school and a sponsored swim from Year 8 student, Owen Say, who swam 100 lengths in an impressive time of 55 minutes and 10 seconds, students were able to raise enough money to support the construction of a water tank at Great Hope Primary School on the outskirts of Jinja. Speaking to students, Nellie noted that the water tanks has already been a massive contribution to the school, with students now having access to clean running water enabling them to learn in a cleaner environment. Whereas in the past students went a whole day without a drink, they are now able to stay hydrated throughout the day which is healthier, more comfortable and aids concentration.

When asked to speak to students on what they may find themselves doing if they choose to spend their time in Uganda, Nellie commented, “You will come to the home and the school and meet the children who are very excited to meet new people. Even the little things that you may not think are important but are very, very important can change a child’s life. Just by holding them, because some of them have never been held before, or giving them a little encouragement, you will find is all they need.” In addition, groups would be involved in a range of projects such as painting, building, decorating and teaching in school communities.

Having never previously left Uganda, Nellie will shortly be returning home following her visit to England. She noted that the most important thing to her was that she had had the opportunity to have an education; something that very few Uganda parents value as they have not had that experience themselves.

Photo: Sixth Formers with Nellie on the steps of Main Hall at Leighton Park