A GROUP of students from South Tyneside gave a helping hand during an African adventure of a lifetime.
The 24-strong party of pupils and staff from St Joseph’s RC Academy, in Mill Lane, Hebburn, travelled to the village of Sitiyweni, in the Drakensberg Mountains, South Africa.
Students were keen to continue a cultural exchange with Sitiyweni School fostered over the last 12 years.
The 18-day visit included a trek through the trade routes of the Sani Pass to the highest peaks in South Africa, plus trips to see the 1,000-year-old cave paintings of the Sani tribesmen.
Hebburn students also got involved in a variety of aid projects with their sister school in South Africa.
These included the design and construction of a batch solar water heater and the creation of a playground and greenhouse from recycled materials.
The group also led a series of activities based on traditional songs and games, aimed at developing English language skills among South African pupils.
Science student Sam Faso appreciated the work of the Hebburn students on the solar water heater project, explaining: “The students of Sitiyweni can use this idea in their future competitions and this fits in with the idea of making the school a centre for demonstrating sustainable technologies to the wider community.”
Staff from Hebburn also led workshops for science teachers from Sitiyweni and surrounding schools, to complement the skills of local teachers as classroom practitioners.
Jill McManus, staff group leader, said: “The science teachers of South Africa are really enthusiastic to try new ideas for introducing practical activities into their lessons, despite their lack of resources.
“All the workshops were designed to suit the South Africa science curriculum, so that the teachers can introduce them into their lessons with immediate effect.”
The Hebburn party also sampled African culture when they visited Zulu homesteads, enjoying close-up views of the local wildlife, including rhinos and crocodiles.
Joe Shepherd, a Year 12 student from St Joseph’s RC Academy, said: “It was a fabulous experience and everyone involved got so much out of it.
“We would all love to go back in the future.”
The Hebburn school has forged strong ties with Sitiyweni School since 2002.