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Gone are the days when school trips consisted of a visit to the zoo or a Shakespeare play at the theatre - nowadays the world is your oyster, thanks to organisations like World Challenge who take parties of school children on worldwide educational expeditions.
Alex Jones, pictured here, the eldest daughter of Kerrie Jones from our Tax Group, has taken on the challenge from World Challenge (www.world-challenge.co.uk) and signed up for the trip of a lifetime to Swaziland, leaving Scotland on 26 June and returning on 8 July.
Alex is a fifth year pupil at Lasswade High School in Bonnyrigg and over the last 18 months, she has planned and organised a programme of fund raising events to finance the trip, having raised almost 85% of the £2,500 required. Alex (with a little help from her family) has baked, sold unwanted clothing, run sweeps, sold bonus balls, coerced her Grandad into being sponsored for "Sober for October", organised stalls at gala days, painted faces and arranged raffles to reach her target. Although she is unsure of exactly what to expect, Alex said "I am looking forward to making new friends and seeing how people from a completely different culture live - I think it will open my eyes to a lot of things I take for granted".
Swaziland is a Sovereign State in Southern Africa neighboured by Mozambique and South Africa. It is one of the smallest countries in Africa and is ruled by King Mswati III. It is rich in culture and tradition with fertile landscapes and stunning areas of wilderness. There are over 180,000 AIDS orphans in Swaziland and Neighbourhood Care Points (NCPs) have been built to support these orphans.
The expedition is split into various phases:
Acclimatisation Phase - to prepare physically and mentally for the challenge
Challenge Phase - a trek in the Malolotja Nature Reserve in the North West corner of Swaziland. It is one of the most impressive areas of protected wildlife in Southern Africa and is managed by the Swaziland National Trust.
Project Phase - practical work that will be of benefit to the country, helping a local community or organisation, possibly a school or Neighbourhood Care Point. This could involve many varied tasks from painting and construction to teaching English or fetching water.
Rest Phase - time to relax on safari in Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuory, exploring on horseback, foot or vehicle - looking out for zebras, warthogs, antelopes, hippos and crocs.
Presuming Alex survives her next fund raising venture - abseiling from the 150 foot high Titan Crane in Clydebank (pictured here), I'm sure she will tell us all about her adventures for a future Newsletter but if you would like more details or to donate to Alex's trip, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.