Nine Spalding Academy students from years 9, 10 and 11, along with teachers Mrs Wait and Mrs Watt, spent 12 days in Swaziland during the summer holidays.
Each student had to raise £2,824, as well as supply their own personal kit and pay for their individual vaccinations. The Spalding Guardian helped then-head girl Ellis Taylor-Williams with her fundraising for the trip by donating £200. Here she recounts the trip of a lifetime...
Our journey to South Africa took 40 hours, stopping off in Dubai for a connecting flight before arriving in Johannesburg for a four-hour mini-bus journey to the Swaziland border. However, once we arrived at our first campsite, we settled quickly and were able to work with local builders to start constructing some kitchen facilities in a local village, called Shewula.
By doing this we knocked down an old wall and re-used these materials to build the new foundations with. Also, during this time, we had the challenging task of shopping for the next five days while on a tight budget. It was very difficult.
After day four, we left this little village and headed towards a school and orphanage centre, where many of the pupils had lost their parents to AIDS. It was clear to see this school was a lot different to ours. Their classes were mixed from ages 11 to 18 and there were about 45 students to a class.
We had the amazing privilege of giving the school some sports equipment which they were highly grateful for. The group found this quite emotional... and it opened our eyes and we are now able to see how lucky we are. We met some lovely, inspiring people during the beginning of our trip and it was very hard saying goodbye.
On day five, we began our 38km trek up Mount Lubombo. The first day of the trek was challenging, but we kept motivating one another to carry on, not leaving anyone behind.
We had to carry our own water and all our belongings with us.
On days two and three of the trek, we were greeted by a few snakes and rather large beetles. Completing the trek, I was able to look back, rest and be proud of myself. I was so happy and, to me, this is the most rewarding thing I have ever achieved.
Now to the final stretch of the trip, rest and relaxation. Although not to start with as I was awoken by a local... a giraffe just metres from my tent.
Once recovered, we headed to a zip wire in the mountains, a series of 12 wires about 100ft off the ground, scattered in the mountains. The views were phenomenal... breath taking.
We also spent our last days on a reserve and went on a horse back safari, where we saw many animals – elephants, hippos, crocodiles, more giraffes and wildebeest.
Our ninth night we spent driving back up a mountain, to a place called ‘Execution Rock’. We spent an hour here, watching the sun set and the stars coming out.
The stars were the highlight of my trip. I saw my first shooting star... and the second, third, fourth, fifth. There were loads! The sky was so clear.
As a group, every night, we reflected on each day, mentioning the good times and the bad times of the trip.
These moments brought the team closer together and I’m so glad to say I was part of it. So thank you to the students and the two teachers from Spalding Academy.
It was amazing spending, possibly, this once in a lifetime opportunity with you.