Our next visit to Lusaka in July 2018, will be the fifth time Sixth Form students from St Robert’s have been out to Zambia. Each year, the project moves from strength to strength, as we reaffirm the commitment we have made as a school to support the work of Sport in Action and to develop our links to the communities and projects that welcome us into their lives for the 17 days we are out there for.

Last year’s project began, as always, in the September of 2016, when the recruitment process for the project starts. 40 students applied to take part in the project for what was, historically, 7 places. After consultation with Sport in Action representatives, we decided to up the number of students to 10. Yes, this would provide logistical challenges, but challenges that were in no way insurmountable.

Over the next 6 months, the students had a responsibility to fundraise the monies required for the project to run. Each student raised £2000, which paid for all travel expenses and living costs for the duration of their visit. The money also included a 10% donation to Sport in Action.

In January, we managed to acquire some funding which allowed us to organise for one of the Zambian Peer Leaders to come over to the UK and spend 2 weeks in St Roberts. This was to be a joint project with Durham University where the Peer Leader would go through a highly structured developmental programme. After 4 months of planning and organising, and with the amazing support of Stacey Porter from Durham University, Steven Siame arrived in April. The experience was fantastic for both Steven and the students of St Roberts. His enthusiasm and personality shone through and his story of life in Lusaka made our students reflect upon their own lives. The fortnight Steven was here was a massive source of added value for the St Robert’s project.

Our visit to Lusaka in July 2017, was of great success. The project ran smoothly with no issues. From the 2016 project, St Roberts donated £4500 towards specific projects. Sporting equipment was to be bought for the students at UTH, the changing rooms were to be renovated at Munali, and money was set aside to support one of the peer leaders from Fountain of Hope for her nursing college fees. Progress at Munali has been slow but is getting there. A new roof has been put on and the external walls painted. Inside, needs a lot more work!

In 2017, another £2000 was donated. 50% to go towards the Munali changing rooms and 50% towards the improvement of the baby clinic at Fountain of Hope. I look forward to seeing how progress on these projects is going.

Recruitment for the 2018 project is complete and the 10 students are now in full fundraising mode. We have committed, subject to visa requirements, to host another peer leader in April 2018. The full Year 13 student body have also committed to fundraise for the two projects we have donated money towards last year. This should be with The Perfect Day Foundation before Christmas.

The St Robert’s project only runs with the support of Stacey Porter, Katie Binks and Dr Peter Warburton from Durham University, the management of Sport in Action and the kind generosity of the students, parents and staff from St Robert of Newminster RC School.

Further information about the work carried out by the Wallace Group Universities in Zambia can be found at the following website http://www.wallacegroupuniversities.com

If you would like to support our school project in Zambia, please contact Mr Dent on school@strobertofnewminster.co.uk