St Helen and St Katharine students volunteer in Kenya

A group of Year 11 and Lower Sixth students spent ten days working with the Nasio Trust on community projects.

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8th September 2019 — Upper Sixth student Amelia described her experiences in Africa:

'At the start of the summer holidays, eleven of us from Lower Sixth made the long journey to Musanda, Kenya. We went out with the Nasio Trust, an Abingdon-based charity who work in Musanda and Mumias to end the cycle of poverty through community-based projects focused on child and healthcare. We spent ten days there, working with the charity and learning about the community’s way of life.

The Nasio Trust set up two day-care centres, St Irene’s and Noah’s Arc where we spent a lot of time. It was a joy to interact with the children. We served them lunch and had a go at teaching in class, but the majority of time was spent playing games outside. The style of learning is very different and it was interesting to observe their more contribution-based lessons.

We spent a very rainy afternoon at a primary school in Mumias. We did a Q and A with the students where they could ask us questions and we could learn from them. Some of the most valuable parts of the trip were when we could interact closely with the students and learn about the differences and similarities between our cultures. We had the opportunity to visit some of the Nasio children’s homes, getting to meet their families and see where they live. Seeing the direct impact that the charity had on these people’s lives was inspirational.

The Nasio Trust inputs greatly into the healthcare of the local areas. We were toured around the medical centre in Musanda and visited children and new mothers in the larger hospital. However, the most impactful part of the experience was the jiggers campaign. Jiggers are a parasite which can get into people’s hands and feet and when serious can be crippling. A campaign was arranged where we treated and cleaned the feet of children who had jiggers from the local area, and adults with more serious cases. For those of us interested in medical degrees, the treatment was valuable work experience, but more importantly all of us were moved by the bravery of these people who had been suffering so much. It was incredible to play such a central role in the campaign; we all took so much from the experience, and hopefully helped those that we treated.

We learned a lot from the lives of those involved in the Nasio Trust. For example, one of their income-generating projects is a spirulina greenhouse, a superfood that few of us had heard of, yet one which can have amazing effects on nutrition.

On Sunday we went to church and enjoyed the song-based, less self-conscious style of worship. It was delightful to get dressed up with the children and walk to and from the service with them.

We helped out with a house build for one of the families involved with the charity and were impressed by the skill and ability of the local building team, without any of the equipment we are used to seeing.

We are grateful to the Nasio Trust for giving us such a special opportunity. The trip was an overwhelmingly incredible experience.'

About St Helen & St Katharine

Founded in 1903, St Helen and St Katharine is a leading independent day school for girls aged 9–18 in Abingdon, six miles south of Oxford.

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