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Life changing trip for student volunteers

Published: September 12, 2016

Cornwall College St Austell 16-18 | Adult

Student volunteers from The Cornwall College Group have gathered at the St Austell campus to relive their recent life-changing volunteering experience in Africa.

The group who earlier this year travelled to Rongai in Kenya to take part in an annual volunteering trip, met with college staff and family members at Cloisters Restaurant for an awards evening recognising their achievements.

The Cornwall College Group ‘s Volunteer Kenya project was established in 2009 by Lauren and Ross Sundercombe to help provide better education facilities and resources to some of Kenya’s most disadvantaged children and deprived communities. With the help of individuals and businesses, hard work and dedicated support, the ongoing aim of the project is to develop the relationship between Cornwall College and the town of Rongai in Kenya.

Every year students and college staff visit Kenya for a fortnight to undertake volunteer work which helps the Rongai community in enterprise, education, childcare, health and sporting activities. Project Lead Lauren Sundercombe from Cornwall College, said: “The 2016 trip was another fantastic success. The team of students that went this year were involved in a wide range of projects, working in the local schools, helping out at the local nursery, spending time at the IDP Camps and handing out donations to the community. Myself and Ross, alongside Cornwall College, are very proud of what the team achieved this year. We look forward to another exciting and rewarding adventure in 2017.”

After a rocky start to the trip, which included a delayed flight and an unexpected stay in a five-star hotel in London, the volunteers landed in Nairobi and travelled on to a volunteer compound in Rongai near Nakuru. From then on, it was a busy schedule of volunteering tasks, the first of which was creating a painted educational mural for local school Gogar Primary. The group also had an enjoyable experience delivering an entire team football kit to Rongai FC which was generously donated by players and staff at Veryan FC; a gesture which the entire town turned up to witness including the Mayor of Rongai and the Chairman of the club.

The students also managed to put in some time working at the local nursery St Michaels which Cornwall College played a part in building and raising funds for in 2011. The nursery now has 134 children from the area that it cares for and plans are in place to raise funds to extend the building with another nursery classroom in the near future. For 18 year old Health and Social Care student Parasha Collins, the opportunity to work in this special environment was eye opening. She said: “It was an amazing opportunity to see how different their culture is to ours and I also really enjoyed seeing how they learn in their schools and their way of life, I would definitely recommend it to a friend; it’s a chance of a life time!!”

In addition to all the hard work, the students also found some time to kick back and enjoy the incredible African culture up close, the highpoint of which was a visit to the The Maasai Mara National Reserve. The Mara is a large game reserve in Narok County and home to Lions, Leopards, Cheetah and Wildebeest; all of which the group were lucky enough to see up close on safari.

18 year old Duchy College student Beth Hunter Davey from Par, said: “It’s been the best life experience so far! I have found it incredible how much you gain from spending such a short time in Kenya and with its beautiful people! The difference in culture does come as a shock and for what you do and gain; the price of the trip is completely worth it. The trip broadens your horizons and changes your outlook on things. Kenya is an opportunity of a lifetime and I will be going back many times, one hundred percent!”

The next Volunteer Kenya trip will be taking place in June/July 2017 and is open to all students studying with the Cornwall College Group. If you are interested in finding out more, please visit www.cornwall.ac.u/kenya or get in touch on volunteerkenya@cornwall.ac.uk

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