24th May 2018
A COUPLE of sixth form students from Dyke House College travelled to Kenya to help others and the trip has changed their own outlook on life.
Best friends Ellie Lewis and Taylor Allen flew out to Nairobi before heading on a five-hour bus journey to Nakuru in the mid-west of the country.
The Hartlepool students were part of an 18-strong National Citizen Service (NCS) group that travelled to Africa for an 11-day adventure.
After arriving in Nakuru, a small town where not many people grow up with much, the girls spent time trying to improve lives in an area where it is common for three families to share a one-bedroom shack.
Ellie, 16, said: "It was an unforgettable experience and we made friends that will last a life time.
"I thought it would be easier than what it was, seeing how poor everyone was made me really emotional.
"Just to see how the kids out there had nothing going for them, even the classrooms in the schools weren't even classroom, they were just scruffy buildings with a few chairs.
"The kids had no proper shoes, those who did were wearing oversized shoes. I won't take anything for granted any more, it made you realise the little things are what really matter."
Even when the team of volunteers - four adults and other 16-18 year-olds including more from Hartlepool - went back to the hotel they found pot holes on the roads and slums around them.
Taylor and Ellie helped to decorate the classrooms during their visit to a ghetto where winding alleys lined with shanty structures bore broken sewer lines, heaps of rubbish and a murky river.
Both of them had to raise £1800 to go on the trip by climbing Roseberry Topping, selling cakes and bag packing - and they think it was worth every penny.
Taylor said: "It was a real eye opener. When you see places like that on TV you think it's bad but it's 100 times worse in real life.
"We went into schools and you would see children eating awful food, like the porridge was made with muddy water and flour.
"When we went into the community we gave out three family sized blankets and in one room there was five tiny beds lined up. There was no hob, no toilet, no kitchen …
"One day we took donations and handed them items of clothing, trainers, food, and it was really overwhelming because the kids were so happy, they were desperate. Every aspect of their life was different to ours."
Ellie is studying English and RE at Dyke House, while Taylor is studying engineering, PE and maths and was an athlete enrolled on Dyke House's Elite Development Squad scholarship programme.
Ellie said: "It was an amazing experience and we had tears all of the time. It has definitely made us think about doing work like this in the future, helping others."