A group of Bedford College students and staff travelled to Ghana to help at a school and hospital where most people can only dream of the UK standards in education and healthcare.
Staff and students raised the funds themselves towards the trip and plan another to Zanzibar next Easter.
Tutor in child care at the college, Nicola Shortland, said: “This trip was quite a culture shock for those who had never been outside the UK or Westernised holiday locations. The classrooms had no materials, the teachers no qualifications. We re-arranged the room, provided some hands-on teaching demonstrations and left them with some wall posters and Bedford College souvenir colouring pens.
“The maternity hospital we visited had no beds and an old garden chair with rollers passed as a patient wheelchair.
“It helped students to realise how lucky we are and the value of our training and institutions.”
Bedford College students who are aged 16 and upwards can progress through childcare and education and health and social care towards higher education, or degree level qualifications and then move into careers in caring for children or adults of all ages.
Student Megan Robinson said: “When in Africa I had an amazing experience but the poverty you see around you can be really upsetting. I was working in a classroom in which there were 50 children with only one teacher. First thing is the teachers have no resources and they want you to go in there from ‘day one’ and teach a lesson and I found that very overwhelming as I had never taught a lesson in my life I had only ever supported someone in teaching.
“After a tough first day our team put our heads together to come up with some lesson plans in maths, English and even science. One day in the classroom we went in and we were teaching numbers to ten using what was available in the environment by getting the children to go and collect stones and use them to count. They did very well and improved their understanding of numbers. Then when we went back a day later the teacher was teaching them using the stones in the same way we had done the day before and that for me was a glory moment.”
Megan added: “I did have a few moments where I did just want to cry as the poverty does hit you and you ask yourself how can these people possibly live like this? But then you have to remember that they were born in that environment and they are just grateful that you can play a game of catch with them.”
The group had the opportunity to do a little exploring, including a visit to the Wli falls, which Megan described as stunning.
She added: “I am recommending our trip and experience to new students to take an opportunity to travel like this as it does open your eyes and makes you aware of the world around you.”
To discover more about careers in caring for children or adults of all ages contact Bedford College on 01234 291000 or visit www.bedford.ac.uk