A SCHOOL-LEAVER who intends to dedicate her life to helping others is spending her gap year working thousands of miles from home.
Fiona McGlade left Durham Johnston School this year with four A-levels and intends to become a doctor.
The 18-year-old is doing voluntary work at St Cuthbert’s Hospice near her home in Durham City and plans to spend five months next year in Africa before, hopefully, starting medical school in the autumn.
She said: “I have had better opportunities than many young people, so I think it is important to give a bit back.
“The trip to Africa is to take part in a programme run by Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) for people of my age group.
“I am going to Zambia for three months and then to an orphanage in Tanzania for two months.
“I’ve not been told where in Zambia yet, but I will be staying with a Zambian family almost as an adopted child. It means I will have new parents and brothers and sisters for that time, which is very exciting.”
Fiona’s work in both countries is based on the impact of HIV and Aids.
“There is still an awareness problem in Zambia,” she said.
“It’s a bit like when the disease first became known in Europe. It’s seen either as a problem for homosexuals or an occupational hazard of having sex.
“Neither is true, HIV and Aids affects homosexuals and heterosexuals, males and females, and it is largely preventable and treatable.
“The orphanage in Tanzania shows a different side to the disease.
“Most of the children there will have lost one or both parents to HIV and Aids.
“To go on the trip I have to raise at least £1,500, all of which goes to VSO for their programmes.
“I am grateful for any help people feel able to give.”
Donations can be made online: www.justgiving.com/fiona-mcglade or by texting FMCG94 and the amount to 70070.