A new group of students is continuing its school’s association with a South African community by volunteering to work with HIV/AIDS orphans in a local school.
The group of six from Bede Academy in Blyth, accompanied by vice principal Andrew Middleton, will spend two weeks at Nokuphila School in the township of Tembisa, near Johannesburg.
They will join others from Emmanuel Schools Foundation schools in other parts of the North East and Yorkshire in a group expedition that leaves on July 1.
The students – who will help teach music, games and art to children orphaned by the disease – had to apply for a place, stating what qualities they felt they could bring to the work and what they hoped to learn from the experience.
They include musician Christie Wilce, 18, who said: “All through school the only trip I ever wanted to go on was this one.
“I’m expecting it to be life-changing and really rewarding, but I’m sure it will be a mix of emotions.”
Jamie Watson, 17, who plays football for the academy and Blyth Spartans, is hoping to share some of his sporting skills with the children, whose education is provided by the charity Love Trust.
Louis French, 17, said: “I think it will be quite difficult because of the life they’ve had, but it will be good to try to help.”
Josh Aisbitt, 16, added: “It’s a chance to give something back to the school and to help other people.
“The conditions and their quality of life compared with ours might be quite a shock, but it’s important that we do what we can.”
The students have to raise £1,000 each for the expedition. They have already taken part in a gym-based sponsored bike ride and car washes, and have organised a Nokuphila fund-raising concert at the academy.
Younger children at Bede South have also got involved by taking part in a sponsored readathon to raise money for the South Africa school.
As well as helping in the classroom and on the sports field, the students going abroad may also get involved in some construction work during the expedition.
Dr Middleton said: “The group were selected for their aspirations to work in the field of care or to serve the community, for their spirit of getting involved and for their commitment.
“It will be an incredible experience for them and, as well as providing an opportunity to serve, it will also teach them a lot about themselves.”