NEW FOREST students put their hands to a variety of tasks when they spent a month helping people living in severe poverty.

A group of 10 pupils from Ballard School spent four weeks in Africa as part of a Camps International expedition.

From building a classroom, to deworming goats, the students got involved in a huge range of activities designed to improve the lives of thousands of people.

The group was led by head of English Deborah Hurdle and head of science Nick Hall.

The youngsters raised thousands of pounds to make the trip possible by taking part in fund raising activities including car washes, cake sales and sponsored silences.

The first 12 days of the journey were spent in the Safari of Tsavo East and consisted of activities designed to improve the locals’ living and learning conditions. Among their day-to-day activities, the students experienced deworming goats, building a new classroom for a local secondary school and working on elephant deterrents to help protect the farmers’ crops from the devastation of migrating elephants.

Moving forward on their expedition, the group stopped in Muhaka to act as benefactors for a family of 10. The central activity within this camp was the construction and decoration of a house to host the family.

Mr Hall and Mrs Hurdle worked alongside pupils to complete the build, paint the house and lay the floors. After the construction was finalized, the rest of the funds were attributed to buying mattresses and bedding, clothing, shoes, pans, paraffin lamps and food.

Ballard School’s Kenyan adventure approached an end in Shimoni where the team completed a PADI qualification (Professional Association of Diving Instructors). The students and their two supervisors took a four-day diving course and successfully passed the final exam.

Mrs Hurdle said: "It was an amazing month of working tirelessly in basic conditions and intense heat but we did not lose our optimism and sense of humour at any point. Besides the strenuous work, we enjoyed epic football matches, card games, campfires and an awful lot of laughter.

"The great work ethic of the students and their determination to go the extra mile impressed the local project leaders and offered a Kenyan family the chance of a better life."