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Hartlepool students’ emotional trip to Africa changes their outlook on life

Taylor Allen with some of the children she met on her trip.
Taylor Allen with some of the children she met on her trip.

Kind-hearted students from Hartlepool have told of their emotions after visiting schools in Kenya.

Best friends Ellie Lewis and Taylor Allen, who study at Dyke House College, say the trip has changed their outlook on life.

Ellie Lewis with some of the children she met on her trip.

Ellie Lewis with some of the children she met on her trip.

They were part of an 18-strong National Citizen Service Group which travelled to Africa for an 11-day adventure.

It started with a flight to Kenya’s capital city, Nairobi, before a five-hour bus journey to Nakuru in the mid-west of the country.

After arriving in the small town, the girls spent time trying to make a difference in an area where it is common for three families to share a one-bedroom shack.

Ellie, 16, who studies English and RE, said: “It was an unforgettable experience and we made friends that will last a lifetime.

It was an unforgettable experience and we made friends that will last a lifetime

Ellie Lewis

“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 classrooms, they were just scruffy buildings with a few chairs.

“The kids had no proper shoes, and those who did were wearing oversized shoes.

“I won’t take anything for granted any more.

The trip to Kenya left both girls emotional.

The trip to Kenya left both girls emotional.

“It made you realise the little things are what really matter.”

The team of volunteers included four adults and others aged between 16 and 18.

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.

Before the trip, they both had to raise £1,800, and did so by climbing Roseberry Topping, selling cakes and bag packing.

Taylor Allen with some of the children she met on her trip.

Taylor Allen with some of the children she met on her trip.

Taylor, who is studying engineering, PE and maths, 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.

Taylor Allen with some of the children she met on her trip.

Taylor Allen with some of the children she met on her trip.

“Every aspect of their life was different to ours.”