Trip to Malawi brings new insight to Felpham group

A FELPHAM Community College student helped to save a man's sight on a visit to Africa.

Myles Spittle (17) was among seven of the college's pupils visiting Malawi on a trip of a lifetime.

Their tour of the country was organised by leading blindness charity Sightsavers International to see how it prevents and cures blindness and supports those who are visually impaired.

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One of the features of the ten-day visit was helping at an eye screening session for more than 70 adults and children. The pupils tested their vision and helped identify cataracts and other visual impairments.

Myles commented: "I was really proud that, after doing the screenings for a morning, I diagnosed someone with progressive cataracts '“ and I was right.

"The man was then referred to a doctor to get the treatment he needed."

Myles was among a team of seven award-winning pupils, aged 15 to 18, and three teachers from the college who went to rural and urban Malawi after winning the 2007 Giving Nations awards.

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At Montfort School in Blantyre, in the south of Malawi, the students met some of the 56 visually impaired pupils who learn alongside their sighted peers.

Among them was Kondwani (21) who lost his sight because of malaria and is learning to read and write in Braille.

One of the Felpham students, Elena Stevens (17), said: "Kondwani was amazing. I could imagine my world falling apart if I lost my sight so suddenly. But Kondwani was so hopeful. He was really inspiring.

"Now we have returned from Malawi we really want to show people here that there are straightforward things that can be done like eye screening, ensuring blind and visually impaired children have access to education, and training people whose sight cannot be saved, so they can have a good quality of life."

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The Felpham students also met several blind people who are being supported by Sightsavers to gain life skills to move with confidence and earn a living.

The college's charity team won the chance to travel to Malawi as overall winners of the Citizenship Foundation's 2007 Giving Nations Awards last October.

This recognised the college's outstanding record in charitable, community and volunteering work.

According to Sightsavers' schools development manager Jo Mitchell,: "This trip was the opportunity of a lifetime for these teenagers, witnessing the true impact of fundraising and campaigning, while also understanding more about disability and education in countries overseas."

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