PUPILS at a Wearside school enjoyed a life-changing trip to help African children living in poverty.
A group of 12 pupils and three members of staff from Red House Academy, Sunderland, travelled to the Volta region of Ghana to help with the building of a primary school.
The Sunderland teenagers had to apply and undergo a interview session before being chosen for the charity trip.
All pupils who took part were from Years 10 and 11 at the Rutherglen Road school and the trip was heavily financed by the Leighton Group, the academy sponsors, through the Red House Trust.
The teenagers spent their two weeks in the small village of Lume, working on finishing off the new primary school building, doing painting and decorating, plastering and building bricks from mud.
All the youngsters said the trip was the most amazing experience of their lives and there were a lot of tears when they had to leave the village and the children at the primary school, who had become so attached to them.
The overwhelming feeling of the Red House Academy pupils was experiencing for themselves just how little the people of the village had.
Brady Jackson, 14, said: “You see it on the television, but you don’t really understand what it is like until you are there. You realise how lucky we are.”
Jade Tansey, 15, said: “These children were just so excited to have items like glue and Sellotape, just things we take for granted in schools.”
“They went absolutely crazy for the balloons we took over,” said 14-year-old Corey Hopper.
The group stayed in a house in the village, which was deemed luxurious because it had water and electricity and said the people in the community made them feel so welcome.
Natalie Davison, 15, said: “All the people were so happy and smiling, yet they have absolutely nothing compared to us.”
Although an amazing experience, the trip was also very tough for the teenagers, some being away from their families for the first time, and working every day in the intense heat.
The youngsters said they all rallied round to help each other keep going.
Dr Therese Quincey, principal at Red House Academy, was one of the staff who accompanied the students to Ghana and said she couldn’t have been more proud of them.
She said: “It didn’t matter where we where, whatever the conditions were, there wasn’t one of them who didn’t do their best.
“They were real ambassadors for Red House.”
Now, the school is starting the application process again to find a worthy group of students to experience a similar trip next year.