FIVE young people from a Port school have helped ensure youngsters in Africa can get an education by taking part in an international aid mission.

St Stephen’s High pupils Kieran Henderson, Katie Matthews, Amy Gillan, Caitlin Cunningham and Molly McGerr were accompanied by teachers Mark Parsons and Clare McKinney on a lifechanging journey to Malawi.

The group travelled to Bangwe in the Blantyre region where they helped get a new nursery ready in time for pupils.

Before heading out the pupils and staff fundraised for their trip and the money raised went towards building a much needed access road and necessary landscaping.

The project was a collective effort with Classrooms for Malawi but the funding had dried up, so the school's fundraising was vital and allowed the project to be finished and open on time.

Teacher Mark Parsons said: “We spent most days at the project, painting the classroom and the outside of the building.

"The pupils were welcomed by the local politicians, clan chief, children and teachers.

“We were shocked at the state of the buildings at the current nursery.

"Bricks were falling from the walls and parents were reluctant to send their children there.

“It was extremely satisfying to know that when we were leaving the village had a brand new facility for the children.

“Seeing the nursery school near completion and ready to open in September was a real highlight.”

As well as working on the project the pupils were able to enjoy different experiences including a game drive, boat ride, cruise, safari and visits to the local secondary school and markets.

Mark added: “A highlight for the pupils was a close encounter with a family of elephants while on safari.

“The pupils coped admirably with the environment and living in amongst people in the poorest conditions.

“The pupils had spent time working with representatives from Classrooms for Malawi and attended a convention run by the Scotland Malawi Partnership, so they had some ideas about what life in Malawi would be like but nothing could fully prepare them.

“The extent of the poverty was shocking but the pupils adjusted quickly to the challenges facing them.

“As we left the building and classroom blocks had been completed and the finishing touches were being put to the landscaping.

“The group worked really hard to ensure the painting and decorating of the classrooms was completed.

“We would like to thank Classrooms for Malawi, the local community and parishes for their support, Fr Eoin Patton and the families of the pupils involved for tall their fundraising work.”

The trip was such a success that planning has already started for a trip in two years time.