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Catholic Life

Students spend summer holidays with the needy

Students from St Philomena’s Catholic High School for Girls build a playground in an Ecuadorian school, work on wildlife projects in Namibia and Borneo, and help build a school in Kenya

By on Thursday, 1 December 2011

Children in Ecuador use playground facilities which St Philomena students helped to build (Photo: Geoff Lockett)

Children in Ecuador use playground facilities which St Philomena students helped to build (Photo: Geoff Lockett)

For several years students from St Philomena’s Catholic High School for Girls in Carshalton, Surrey, have spent their summer holidays on community projects and adventure activities in various developing countries.

In recent years projects have included building a playground in an Ecuadorian school, working on wildlife projects in Namibia and Borneo, and helping to build a school in Kenya.

The summer of 2012 will find the girls trekking in Thailand and working in an orphanage in Cambodia. A further expedition is planned for Mongolia in 2013.

Many of the girls have found the expeditions to be life-changing experiences. Each time they work with underprivileged children it has a profound and humbling impact on all involved.

Experiencing the warmth and welcome of local people who are genuinely thrilled to meet them is life-affirming. Their experiences strengthen their faith and contribute significantly to the Catholic ethos of the school. Several students have changed their career plans and are actively working with (or intend to work with) children. One student has spent the last few months working with children in Thailand and Nepal.

A typical expedition costs more than £3,000 per person and students are expected to raise the bulk of the money themselves. In this was they “own” the expedition and are more focused when the going gets tough.

This is a huge amount to raise and the girls spend many hours planning and taking part in fundraising events.

Many have the help and support of their parish church, for which they are very grateful. Other activities include bag packing, sponsored runs and abseils, car washing and raffles.