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Youngsters prepare for gap year

St Joseph’s College in Staffordshire sends record number of aid workers to developing world

By on Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Back, left to right: Jack Johnson, Megan Ford, Natasha Chare, Jade Spencer and Jacob James. Kneeling: Cameron Finney and Roseanna Cocks

Back, left to right: Jack Johnson, Megan Ford, Natasha Chare, Jade Spencer and Jacob James. Kneeling: Cameron Finney and Roseanna Cocks

St Joseph’s College in Staffordshire is sending a record number of foreign aid workers to the developing world, writes Simon Carter.

Eight teenagers will spend six weeks next summer in communities in southern India, Thailand, Kenya, Uganda and Ghana courtesy of the Catholic charity Lasallian. All of the 17-year-olds will fund their own passage, raising £1,300 each by next summer to pay for the project. The young men and women will help to build new schools while teaching in the existing prefabs.

Jack Johnson, from Chesterton, who is going to Uganda, said: “Education is the powerful weapon against poverty and it will be a privilege to get involved.”

Natasha Chare, from Stone, who will be going to Kenya, said: “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

Megan Ford, from Trentham, who is going to Thailand, added: “It’s about getting out of your own little bubble and seeing what life is really like across the world.”

Cameron Finney, from Stone, who will be going to southern India, said: “I hope to make a real difference in building facilities for orphaned children that will last through the generations.”

Jade Spencer, from Loggerheads, who will be going to Ghana, said: “It is a chance to see a different culture and have genuine life-changing experiences.”

While Natasha Chare, from Stone, who is going to Kenya, said: “It’s not about we will be able to do for those communities, but what the experience will give us.” Jacob James said: “Life is more simple in the developing world, where the basics of food, water and education are essential, and it will be an opportunity to re-set your own values.”

Roisin Maguire, headmistress of St Joseph’s College, said: “The Lasallians research and develop worthwhile projects worldwide in which teenagers can make a real difference.

“It’s wonderful that more and more young people are taking this opportunity and are finding every penny of the funding for themselves. “It is an eye-opening experience, and we know that university admissions tutors and top recruiters increasingly value this type of commitment from the next generation.”