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Teenage carers from Crook in African adventure
TWO teenage carers have spent their holidays building a playground for impoverished children, camping on a mountain top in sub-zero temperatures and holding baby crocodiles thanks to their community.
Danielle Brown, 16, and Matthew Littlefair, 15, from Crook , were among 20 students from Parkside Sports College to travel to South Africa this month.
The brother and sister, who live on the Watergate Estate, had to fund the trip themselves and turned to their community for help in raising the £4,000 needed.
They returned last week and, despite a 24-hour delay in Paris because of a plane problem on the way out, said the trip lived up to its billing as a life-changing experience.
They spent four days building a playground for pupils at the Entabeni Education Centre, in the Limpopo province of South Africa.
They also played the local team at football and came within minutes of ending the hosts’ unbeaten run.
A local historian took the youngsters through the battlefields of the Anglo-Zulu war, culminating in a visit to Rorke’s Drift.
They also went trekking in the mountains and spent a night in tents when temperatures dropped to minus nine degrees.
The siblings, who are carers for several members of their family, said a highlight was the local wildlife – they had the opportunity to hold a baby crocodile and see endangered rhinos, giraffes, hippos and wild dogs. Crook South county councilor Eddie Murphy supported the pair in their fundraising and said: “I am so proud of these two young people for going on this trip and making such a difference to the lives to the children they helped.”
Matthew, who has just been named as head boy at Parkside for the coming year, said: “It was by far the best thing I have ever done, if you ever get the opportunity you should do it.
“We learnt so much from the people we met, they were so appreciative for anything given to them and were really friendly, they even taught us some Zulu and the food was amazing.”
Danielle, who returned to find she had passed her GCSEs with As, Bs and Cs, said: “There aren’t the words to describe this trip. The fact we could go just shows that people can achieve what they want regardless of where they come from.”