SIXTH form students from St Leonards-Mayfield school set off for Pattaya, Thailand at the end of last month.
They are taking part in a busy, two-week programme of charity work with physically disabled children and young adults as well as able-bodied street children and orphaned infants.
During their stay, they have also volunteered at a drop-in centre for local women and helped with some agricultural work.
During the school year the girls have been busily fundraising for the Thai Children’s Trust through various activities at school and in the local community, which they have managed themselves alongside their AS and A level studies.
Their stay in Pattaya has been no less busy; the girls have been occupied with dreaming up all sorts of crafts and sporting activities for groups of children and have enjoyed teaching English conversation at the women’s centre where women with little or no education are offered the chance to learn a trade.
Despite the tropical climate the girls have proved that they are not afraid to roll up their sleeves, and they have spent a day clearing farmland to plant vegetables to feed the local community. One of the highlights for many has been taking a group of blind children swimming in the sea. Deirdre Rowe, who is deputy head academic at Mayfield, described it as ‘a real magic moment in life.’
Student Frankie Smith from Uckfield commented: “It has been an experience that we shall never forget. Each of us has had to use our individual skills in order to communicate and form a relationship with the groups we have worked with so far. The best part is seeing how our small actions make a great difference to the lives of the people we have met.”
It is the first time that the school has taken part in such an initiative but there are plans for it to become a regular trip and next year’s dates are already in the calendar.
Fiona Morris, a Mayfield teacher since 1986, organised and led the trip. She said: “It has been a truly amazing education for us all. We have learnt so much in terms of awareness and the challenges each child and adult faces. All the schemes provide those less fortunate than ourselves with real hope and aspirations.”