Students’ African odyssey

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An extraordinary “school trip” ended up as a life-changing experience for students and staff from Burnley College.

The 34 students and six teachers journeyed to Arusha, near the foot of Mount Meru in Tanzania, where they volunteered in the poverty-stricken area’s children’s homes and orphanages.

The young people also volunteered in two of the local hospitals – witnessing everything from babies being born to surgical procedures and assisting in the day to day workings of the hospital.

But it was not all hard work and no play, as the students also embarked on a safari which included a visit to Ngorongoro Crater, a UNESCO world heritage site.

Students trekked Tarangire National Park and Lake Manyara to spot some of the 550 diverse species including elephants, tree climbing lions, zebra, wildebeest, giraffes and baboons.

Teacher Shazia Choudhry said: “The projects were an amazing experience, opening up everyone’s eyes to bigger issues in the world.

“The safari was incredible, being able to come close to so many beautiful animals. The Tanzanian culture was amazing.”

The trip was organised by Plan My Gap Year, which praised the Burnley College students for making a huge impact with their time, efforts and devotion to each of the projects.

Tanzania has been beset with problems of extreme poverty. It is estimated that around 1.4million Tanzanians are infected with HIV and for every 1,000 babies born six mothers die in childbirth.

These factors combined with widespread poverty and minimal state welfare have resulted in an alarmingly high level of orphans and street children. Tanzania also faces an acute shortage of health care workers.