STUDENTS from a Louth school had the experience of a lifetime when they spent 33 days in Africa.
Fourteen students from Monks' Dyke Tennyson College travelled to Mozambique and Swaziland after fundraising tirelessly for the trip over the last two years.
During their stay in Africa, the students worked hard, undertaking a project to help build a school for vulnerable and disadvantaged children in the tiny village of Zembe in the Manica Province of Mozambique, working alongside members of the local community and workers from the charity MICAIA.
The school's headteacher, Elisabete Fiado-Chivandire, was full of praise for the group.
The students also climbed the highest mountain in Mozambique, Mount Binga, reaching 2436 metres above sea level, straddling the border of Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
They also trekked through Ngwempisi Gorge in Swaziland by way of acclimatisation.
For some well deserved rest the students went on safari in the beautiful Gorongosa National Park and their final treat was a day spent snorkeling with giant whale sharks and manta rays – a memorable excursion rounded off with a close encounter with a pod of hump-back whales.
One World Challenge student Katie Wilson said: "The trip has given me independence and made me appreciate things I have in life. I would recommend the trip to anyone as it was a once in a lifetime opportunity."
Nick Barton, head of geography at the college, has now led five of these month-long expeditions to the developing world. He said: "These expeditions are life-changing for our students in so many ways. The skills they develop, the sights they see and the inspirational people they encounter will affect them long after they return home."
Plans are already in place for the college's next expedition, to Cambodia and Thailand in 2014.