TEENAGER Melissa Carr will be a ‘big sister’ to orphaned children and babies when she spends a year volunteering in South Africa.
The Lossiemouth High School S6 pupil is likely to be living in a mud hut during her time in the country.
Melissa (17) is relishing the new life she will live after being accepted as a volunteer by Project Trust.
The teenager loves working with children and is excited at the prospect of volunteering in an orphanage.
“One of my main roles will be to act as a big sister to these children, as well as teaching basic English communication skills,” she said.
“The work I undertake overseas will not deprive local people of work. I will be giving help that cannot be given by the community itself.”
South Africa remains an impoverished country in many areas, and the gap between rich and poor is one of the widest in the world.
“I didn’t realise how bad it was until I started doing my research on the country,” admitted Melissa.
“I am really looking forward to it, but I am nervous at the same time.”.
She will head to South Africa in August, 2014, and before then aims to raise over £5,600 to meet many of the costs of her work.
Melissa is the first pupil from the high school to take part in the project, and she went through a rigorous selection process, which included a five-day course on the Island of Coll, in the Hebrides, before learning she had been chosen to go.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” she added.
“I want to be a nurse when I leave school, but I do not know which field yet.”
She has a passion for helping younger children and regularly babysits her cousins and works at the Little Angels 2-3 Group in Lossiemouth. She is also a peer supporter at her school, which means she is there to support first-year pupils if they need some advice.
Melissa’s family – she has two brothers – are proud of what she wants to do in South Africa.
While concentrating on completing her studies in sixth year, Melissa is also focussing on raising money for her trip.
She has sent letters to local businesses and will run a charity shop in Queen Street, Lossiemouth, from October 7-18.
“I am collecting things for that at the moment and most of them are in the dining-room of my granny’s house,” she said.
The S6 pupil has also set up a blog about her trip and a Facebook page.
She is planning a number of fund-raising events, including a car boot sale, ceilidh, quiz night and coffee mornings, and hopes to work part-time to boost her efforts.
High school teachers Donnie Carthew and Ivan Scott, and head boy Daniel Christie, have also agreed to take part in a leg wax fund-raiser later in the year when pupils and staff will be able to ‘vote’ for their favourite to be waxed by placing donations in a bucket.
Melissa has carried out fund-raising in the past, including a sponsored swim for Marie Curie Cancer Care, but nothing on this scale.
She said she was inspired to apply to the trust after a volunteer from the charity gave a talk in school.
“As soon as she finished the talk I went straight on the computer and applied. I am not exactly sure where in South Africa I will be going, but I will be working and living in one of the underdeveloped parts.”
The teenager will go through comprehensive training and be paired up with a volunteer partner before heading to South Africa.
•You can find out more about Melissa’s fund-raising, and trip to South Africa, at her blogspot which is www.melissacarrprojecttrustx.blogspot.co.uk
She also has an online fund-raising page at virginmoneygiving.com