Local student embarks on African volunteering trip

July 6, 2015

A 21 year old Newtownhamilton woman is embarking on the trip of a lifetime this Saturday as she travels to Africa to take up a much anticipated volunteering post.

Vanessa Burns, who graduates from the University of Ulster this week with a 2:1 in Geography with International Development, successfully fundraised over £4000 for the trip which will see her volunteer as an english teacher in extremely deprived schools in the capital city of Accra in Ghana.

The local graduate will gain some vital experience in teaching which she hopes to find useful for her upcoming PGCE teacher training in Liverpool in September.

Speaking to The Examiner ahead of her African trip, Vanessa told us that volunteering in Africa is something she has always wanted to do and that, having completed her 3 year degree, she felt she had “gained the essential knowledge to go off on a trip like this.”

Vanessa will head off on her month long stay in Accra by herself but she revealed she will stay at volunteer accommodation in the city and looks forward to meeting new people there.

The Newtownhamilton student carried out a tireless fundraising drive over the last few months  raising £4065 to fund her trip. Highlights included a Pool competition and Auction which culminated in a charity wax and shave off which saw plucky volunteers go under the razor and the wax strip courtesy of Newtownhamilton salons, Number One Beauty Salon and Sheer Elegance.

As she embarks on her African volunteering trip, a grateful Vanessa extended her thanks to a host of local companies who donated gifts for the auction, including Jim Feehan of Formula Carting Newry, Camlough dentist, The Central Shop, Newtownhamilton, Fane Valley, Irwin’s Bar Newtownhamilton, Kingsmill Farm Supplies, Mc Cabe’s, JR Lighting and many more local businesses.

“The auctioneer on the night was Sean McNulty from Newtownhamilton, who was a great salesman and created a great atmosphere for the night.

“Special thanks to Brendan Valley, Wendy Burns and Denver Ferris for their help and support.

“The whole project would not have been possible without the sponsorship of Clady Quarries who donated £665 which paid for my flights to and from Ghana,” added Vanessa.

“I would also like to thank all my friends and family who generously donated and helped me raise all the funds for this trip I’ve been dreaming of for so long.”