• Assistant Principal Sarah Houghton, FE Animal Management CAM Dan Weetman and Dean of Higher Education Rachel Ellis-Jones receive the canvas from Henry Traynor

Our animal management students have been praised for making a difference to the lives of remote communities in Ecuador during a study trip last summer.

During their one month expedition, a team of Level 2 and Level 3 Diploma students joined students from other colleges to work on projects in four different regions of the country – coastal, mountainous, rain forest and finally in the world famous Galapagos Islands.

The projects included helping to build a medical centre, planting indigenous saplings to redress deforestation and helping to teach English to local children. In return, our students gained remarkable and exciting life experiences which will stay with them forever.

Julie Lax, Schools Support Coordinator for Camps International, the expedition facilitator, has confirmed in a letter: “Your students have made a huge and lasting positive impact on the lives of many rural communities. They have hand mixed cement, plastered, painted and helped improve facilities for local students as well as being involved in environmental projects which will have a far reaching and lasting effect for years to come.

“Not only have they worked hard at improving the lives of villagers, they have been digging and planting indigenous saplings in order to redress the huge deforestation rampant in Ecuador.

“Interacting with local children is always a highlight of our expeditions. Your students have been actively involved, playing volleyball or football, plaiting hair, singing songs and holding very animated ‘hand’ conversations with young students who are desperate to learn our language to improve their lives and future employment opportunities.

“Although at times they may have been pushed to their limits, they have faced each day with determination and good spirits and have taken on every challenge.

“Living in or close to the local communities has enabled your students to really appreciate how tough daily life can be, but at the same time how resilient and strong the human spirit is in order to overcome the adversities that life throws at us. We hope they have learnt many lessons from this.”

These words were reiterated this week by Henry Traynor, Camps International  Expedition Coordinator, who visited Reaseheath to hand over a canvas to remind the students of their achievements.

Henry confirmed: “We work closely with communities to make sure that our projects deliver what the local people want and that they are sustainable. Reaseheath’s students can be proud that they have made a real and continuing difference to the lives of these communities.”

Level 3 Diploma student Jack Stilgoe, who helped to build the medical centre and constructed paths, said: “It was the best time ever. It was amazing meeting the communities and making friends. It was also nice leaving something behind which is going to be useful to them for a long time.”

Our animal management students have enjoyed previous study trips to Chile and Peru but this was our first visit to Ecuador. Students self fund their trip and many activities are organised on campus including cake sales, car washing and dog walking.

Planning will begin shortly for our next trip in 2019, location yet to be decided.