SECONDARY pupils in Moray are preparing to embark on an eye-opening expedition that will take them all the way to the Horn of Africa.
A group of 11 students from Lossiemouth High School, along with three teachers, will spend 21 days in the most populous landlocked country in the world – Ethiopia.
But before they set off on a journey that will test them to their physical and emotional limits, they are embarking on a fund-raising campaign a little closer to home.
While group members are saving £3,000 themselves – with many taking on weekend and evening jobs to raise the sum – they hope to pull in a communal pot to cover other costs, such as transport to and from Aberdeen airport and a mountain skills training course.
On Saturday, November 2, the expedition team is hosting a Christmas craft fayre at Lossiemouth Town Hall as part of the drive.
Robert Casburn (16) said: “There will be items we have made, as well as great Christmas gifts created by other crafters from across the area.
“It is free entry and there will be a Santa visit and raffle as well. It runs from 10am-2pm, and everyone is welcome.”
Crafters who would like to have a stall can contact Carole at email@example.com or on 07968 507397.
Last weekend, the group held a car boot sale and car wash, raising £377 to get their fund-raising off to a flying start.
A total of 32 cars were washed during the event, said Matthew O’Connor (15), who is among those looking forward to next June’s journey.
Callum Jack (15) said: “The trip has three main parts. There is a community section where we are doing work at an orphanage in the outskirts of the capital city. Then, we will have a six-day trekking phase, where we are going up and down the tallest mountain in Ethiopia.
“Finally, we are going down to the south of the country, where we are doing an overnight safari and camping in the mountains.”
The orphanage, named Children’s Heaven, was opened in July, 2004, and supports more than 80 children in the capital, Addis Ababa.
Grace Barclay (15) said: “We had a choice between several different community work phases. But we chose this one because it just seemed like a very worthy cause.”
The expedition team will then move to the Semien Mountains National Park, where they will face the 4,550 metre Ras Dashen, before bringing the three-week journey to an end trekking in the south.
“I’m looking forward to the experience,” said Sophie Martin (15). “I think it will be an eye-opener and give us a chance to see a different part of the world and meet new people.”
The expedition will represent the school’s first visit to Ethiopia, and teacher Kirsten Begbie said the youngsters will be very much in the driving seat.
“As we get closer to the date, they will be planning a lot more elements of the expedition, and when we are actually out there, they will really be taking the responsibility,” she said.
“We will give them the money and the itinerary and tell them to get on and get us around the country. So, as well as a great experience, it is very much for them to think about how to travel safely and securely around countries, how to negotiate for prices, how to look out for one another, and how to budget their trip.
“As a teacher, it is really exciting to see young kids really step up and do that.”