THIRTEEN sixth form Todmorden High students and three staff set off on a ten-day expedition to Kenya on February 13.
During the trip they visited four National Parks: Samburu, Mount Kenya, Lake Nakuru and Maasai Mara.
Embarking on some fantastic game drives, the group were fortunate to view all the wildlife they could have hoped to see, including a leopard stalking its prey, cheetahs hunting an impala, a black rhino and a pride of 20 lions eating a kill and climbing trees.
While staying in the Maasai Mara, the students experienced life in a Maasai village first-hand.
The boys were challenged by the warriors to a jumping contest and shown how they make fire using a combination of hard and softwood.
The girls were invited to join in with the Maasai women singing and dancing to a traditional song.
All the group visited inside the houses, built by the women of the village from sticks and animal dung.
One of the highlights of the whole trip was visiting Nkoilale primary school, situated just outside the Maasai Mara.
Following the previous visit in 2009, Todmorden High School (THS) raised enough money to buy a water storage tank for the school. This enables them to collect water from the roof during the rainy season.
It was amazing to see the effect this has had. The school has water for the first time thanks to the generous donations of people in and around Todmorden.
The school now has almost 800 pupils, a similar number to THS. Two hundred of these are boarders, however they have only eight classrooms and 12 teachers with 100 students taught in one classroom.
Many people and businesses in Todmorden donated gifts and money for us to take to the school. These gifts were gratefully received and the headteacher, Jacob Losikany, emphasised what a difference this would make to every student in the school.
THS students played a creditable game of football against the school, before demonstrating some of the equipment we had taken for them.
The students then performed a traditional dance for us, before presenting each of our students with a necklace and bracelets and each member of THS staff a new Maasai blanket, a gesture normally reserved for a most respected person in Maasai culture.
THS students were so moved by what they saw, they now want to continue to fundraise at school and in the town to raise money in order to buy tables and chairs for the classrooms.
On the final day, the group visited Thomas Barnado House in Nairobi. Following a guided tour of the orphanage, the students had the opportunity to feed some of the children in the abandoned babies unit, and some of the toddlers in one of the family houses.
Student Lucy Carr said: “Visiting the orphanage and school really made me aware of how lucky we are.”
Many gifts including football shirts were donated to the orphanage. These will provide much-needed birthday and Christmas presents for the 130 children they care for.
Students thanked the staff for organising the trip.
Bradley Shackleton said: “The school trip to Kenya is an unforgettable experience that is etched into my memory and has influenced my outlook on life.
“I had an incredible amount of fun but also I’ve been endowed with knowledge of a different culture and way of life.”
Isaac Davy-Day said: “Kenya was an amazing experience which has shown me how different life is over there and how grateful they are of every little thing.”
Katie Sutcliffe said: “It was good to experience a different culture as well as see all the amazing wildlife.”
Carmen Ward said: “From stepping off the plane to coming back home, it was the best experience of my life.”