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Leicester High School under African skies

Leicester High SchoolThe African world 12 students and 2 staff from Leicester High got to know was not the narrow existence of the tourist or Big Five safari hunter, but the more revealing progress of feeling like an exile in the bush! The human side of Africa was our remote forest camp and school project in the dusty village of Selela in Northern Tanzania where we were the first white group to work and interact with the Masai community. We were able to understand how people lived and what they wanted for themselves. Driving high through the arid savannah, we caught first glimpse of our school - 110 children aged between 5 and 8 with their young teacher writing their sums and Swahili alphabet in the dust under an acacia tree. When we left, we had built a six breeze block high school of two classrooms and two office spaces, had equipped all the children with exercise books and pencils, given the teacher pens and a wall chart and dressed the children in new T-shirts. In appreciation, we were presented with two goats by the Masai elders and invited to join in their celebratory dances. It s not every Saturday morning you are encircled by chanting, leaping Masai warriors. Our rejoinder was to sing Shine Jesus Shine as a blessing on the new school.

Leicester High SchoolSix arduous, gruelling days were spent trekking Mount Kilimanjaro, a magnificently varied hike through dense green cloud forest, emerging into alpine desert with giant lobelias, proteas, senecio tress - then the final slog through a dark volcanic landscape to Kibo Hut to prepare for the night time ascent. Zoe Allen, Mary Goodhart and Sarah Isherwood all reached Uhuru Peak, the snow and ice packed summit of 5896 metres and everyone else made it above 5,100 metres before altitude and exhaustion defeato understand how people lived and what they wanted for themselves. Driving high through the arid savannah, we caught first glimpse of our school - 110 children aged between 5 and 8 with their young teacher writing their sums and Swahili alphabet in the dust under an acacia tree. When we left, we had built a six breeze block high school of two classrooms and two office spaces, had equipped all the children with exercise books and pencils, given the teacher pens and a wall chart and dressed the children in new T-shirts. In appreciation, we were presented with two goats by the Masai elders and invited to join in their celebratory dances. It’s not every Saturday morning you are encircled by chanting, leaping Masai warriors. Our rejoinder was to sing Shine Jesus Shine as a blessing on the new school.

Six arduous, gruelling days were spent trekking Mount Kilimanjaro, a magnificently varied hike through dense green cloud forest, emerging into alpine desert with giant lobelias, proteas, senecio tress - then the final slog through a dark volcanic landscape to Kibo Hut to prepare for the night time ascent. Zoe Allen, Mary Goodhart and Sarah Isherwood all reached Uhuru Peak, the snow and ice packed summit of 5896 metres and everyone else made it above 5,100 metres before altitude and exhaustion defeated. Rest and relaxation was provided by two days safari into Ngorogoro Crater where the Wildebeest were gathering for their annual migration and lions, elephants and zebra were all seen and to Lake Manyara with its giraffes, hippos and impala.

Our camp in Selela under the Rift Valley escarpment was watched over by Vevet monkeys and the shrieks of baboons filled the African darkness. One thing we learnt was that urgency was a foreign concept and time moved differently poli, poli - perhaps not surprising given that two of their generations is equal to one of ours. We were humbled by tenacious people and great resilience and learnt to live simply and appreciate simple pleasures. Leicester High School is rightly proud of the difference its students have made through their fund raising efforts and their physical hard work to the children of Selela whose cheery welcoming shouts of Jambo! Jambo! will live in our hearts forever.

Leicester High School
At Leicester High School we are committed to the pursuit of excellence both within the classroom and beyond. Our girls flourish because they can develop their full potential and acquire the skills to turn them into confident, articulate young women in our friendly and close-knit community. Do arrange a visit and see for yourselves all that we can offer, or visit: www.leicesterhigh.co.uk

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