More Chellaston pupils prepare to carry on helping orphans in Uganda
What started out as a the trip of a lifetime for a group of pupils last year has now turned into a full-time commitment for Chellaston School.
The pupils visited the African country to see the poverty and lack of resources for children there.
They came home determined to ensure that they would raise enough money to return and make a difference.
The driving force behind the project has been languages' teacher Richard Karran.
Until this year, he was helped by former assistant head John Dickens, whose passion for Africa stemmed from time spent there as a teacher.
Sadly, Mr Dickens died in March and never saw the work this year's 31 pupils put in to create the John Dickens House, in Kampala, for orphaned children.
Mr Karran said: "In 2007, we were all so moved by the poor condition of the orphanage, with eight children to a bed, that we knew we had to go back and do something.
"In between the 2007 and 2008 trips, we raised £26,000 to carry out building work on the orphanage and ensured that all 44 children there have a bed each.
"We also installed solar energy cells, running water and created a play area.
"Our students worked for three weeks on the building, as well as visiting local schools to work with the children."
Mr Dickens wife, Pam, and son, Michael, were present to see the place officially opened on the final day of the trip.
Mr Karran said: "It was such a shame John didn't live to see this but his heart and soul went into the planning and he really believed in the project."
But the work does not end there and, for those pupils chosen tomorrow, there will be another hardworking trip in 2009 to renovate an outbuilding to house more orphans.
Each of them will raise at least £450 towards their travel and take part in a series of fund-raising events to realise another £15,000 for the work.
Two supervisors look after the orphanage on a daily basis and they rent the building free from Chellaston School.
Mr Karran said: "We want the orphans, who are aged between four and 16, to become self-sufficient.
"We are overwhelmed by the help we have been given by schools in this area and want to ensure these trips continue long into the future for the benefit of everyone."
Letters and progress reports arrive regularly from Uganda at Chellaston School, much to the delight of pupils.
Pupil Andrew Wiseall, 17, said: "This money was the best investment the school could have made and I would go back tomorrow if I had the chance."
Mrs Dickens, who is the former head of Stenson Fields Primary School, said that her husband would be very proud of the work that is taking place in Uganda.
She said: "He would love the fact that the children are giving so much to the country."
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