Upminster students win Princess Diana award

INSPIRATIONAL teenagers have won the presitigious Princess Diana Award for a �60,000 project on transforming the life of a African village.

The 30 students from Coopers’ Company and Coborn Sixth Form Centre in St Mary’s Lane, Upminster were presented with the award for their achievements with the Back To Africa Expedition.

Science Teacher and one of the organisers of the project, Esther McCall said: “It is a fantastic thing to achieve and all the students are just completely blown away by the whole thing.

“A lot of the parents know about the work that we have been doing over the years in the village, but it is wonderful that our work has been recognised in such a prestigious and superb way.”

Esther nominated the students aged 17- 18 for the award in November last year for their project working with the village in the Sinde District of Livingston in Zambia.

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Esther said; “this is probably one of the biggest accolades that we have ever achieved.

“People just think that it is just a four week expedition, but the truth is that a lot of time goes into it and it is a 18 months project which involves planning and it not only has a big affect on the community out there but also the students involved.”

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Esther launched the project in 2006 when a British couple she knew living in Zambia told her about the plight of the villagers who had made a decision to stop their kids travelling 8 kilometres to a school and instead educate them in a church hall.

The first expedition to Zambia was in 2006 which saw 30 students from the school using �21,000 raised through 18 months of fundraising to build a bore hole so that the villagers could have access to clean water and they also built a small school.

In 2008, the students then returned to Zambia after raising more funds which they used to extend the school and to furnish it with new equipment.

The latest expedition to Zambia was last July which saw the students using �23,000 raised throughout the year to erect a new pre school and a medical centre.

The school also pay for two volunteer teachers at the school because it still has not been recognised by the Zambian government.

The students are now aiming to raise another �10,000 for their next trip in 2012 where they are hoping to be able to build an accomadation for teachers in the village to encourage the best teachers.

Esther said: “We have really made a lasting difference to the lives of the villagers and they have also had an impact on the students because for many of them it is their first time away from home.”

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