Pupils from two Catholic schools have returned from a life-changing trip to Kenya where they saw for themselves the struggles facing people experiencing the impact of drought and rocketing food prices.
Holly Phillips and Lara Woodgate, both aged 16 from Oaklands Catholic School in Waterlooville, Portsmouth, and Theo Spyrides and Emet Halkin, also 16, from St Columba’s College in St Albans, travelled with Cafod, which supports programmes in poor urban and rural communities in Kenya. They have all taken a leading role in their school’s fundraising for Cafod.
Theo said: “In rural Kitui we met people who had no choice but to rely on aid or work for food vouchers because the lack of rain meant they couldn’t grow any crops to feed themselves. They were living on one meal a day if they were lucky and the kids looked really malnourished, it was a shock to see.
“Everywhere was dry and dusty and the dam that the community had worked so hard to build was empty, waiting for the rains to come. I know in other areas of Kenya and East Africa the drought is even worse and people have been forced to leave their homes. I can’t imagine life getting any harder for the people I met. We must support them in any way we can.”
Holly said: “This trip has changed my life. Going to Korogocho, one of the Nairobi slums.
“I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s inhuman that people have to live with open sewers, whole families squashed into tiny rooms and managing to eat just one meal a day if they’re lucky.
“The St John’s Youth Centre in the middle of the slum was like an oasis in comparison, and it’s a great use of the money we’ve helped raise for Cafod. The young people that go there are just amazing – open, welcoming and really determined to build a better future for themselves.
“Before they went to the centre, some of the young people may have been involved in drugs, crime or violence as there is little hope for them there but through the centre they have turned their lives around and really can see a way out of their situation.
“I really enjoyed my time there. I never thought I’d have so much in common with the girls I met as our lives couldn’t be more different. But they were so lovely and we really got on and I know I will stay friends with them.”