Taken from the Northern Echo: http://m.thenorthernecho.co.uk
STAFF members from two Darlington primary schools are readjusting to life at home after returning from training youth workers in Africa.
Katie Hollis, from High Coniscliffe Primary, and Sarah McTimoney of St Mary’s Primary in Cockerton, spent two weeks in Lesotho as part of a team of 18 members of the Durham Diocese, which included the Bishop of Durham, the Right Reverend Paul Butler.
The trip was part of the Durham-Lesotho link project, which has been running between the dioceses of Durham and Lesotho for nearly 30 years, having been established in 1986.
Both Mrs Hollis and Mrs McTimoney got involved with the project over the last year, and both say they feel changed by the experience.
Mrs Hollis said: “I definitely feel changed, and inspired. It was very inspiring to see the work these people were doing out there with nothing really, they didn’t have much money or resources to be able to do this youth-work but they were still doing it and making a difference to young people’s lives, it was amazing.”
Mrs McTimoney added: “They have a huge problem in Lesotho with HIV/AIDS, so there’s a lot of orphaned kids and child-headed households, where it’s teenage children raising their younger siblings, so a lot of work goes into supporting them.
“The youth-workers in Lesotho ranged hugely, from professional youth-workers running exercises like we would here, to ladies who were just working with orphaned kids in a village who had nothing – so their youth-work was to feed them and clothe them. It was very moving.”
During their trip, the team also met the King of Lesotho at a reception dinner held to celebrate the link project.
Mrs McTimoney added: “It was a bit unexpected, and there were no customs we had to learn – it was so unlike if it was our royal family.
“As part of his speech he was talking about the poor nature of the England rugby team compared to the South African team – so when we were all asked to go on stage to have our photograph taken with the King, we all stood and sang ‘Swing Low Sweet Chariot’ which you just couldn’t imagine doing to the royal family in this country.”