Burntisland teenager James Lyon has just embarked on the challenge of a lifetime, teaching pupils at a remote school in Uganda.
James (17), of the town’s Kinghorn Road, flew out to begin his year teaching youngsters at the Grace Children’s Village, a self-sustaining community of around 650 people, in the extreme south west of the country, near to its border with Rwanda, at the weekend.
He is one of a group of 24 Scottish teenagers who will help out in communities around the country for the next 12 months, through the Project Trust organisation.
And, speaking to the Press just days before he left to begin his adventure, James said he was “very excited and just a tiny bit apprehensive” about the many challenges he will face.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet, but every time I talk to people about it I get really excited,” he said.
“As well as teaching the youngsters various subjects, including English, science and maths, we will be doing projects, and I have books and information about the Loch Ness Monster which I think they will really enjoy.
“As we will be living in the village we will be really involved in the everyday life and we will also be helping out with practical things like running the farm, maintaining the gardens where they grow all their own produce, and helping to build a new classroom at the school.
“We will also have time off during the school holidays and I plan to do a bit of sightseeing and maybe visit Kenya to see Mount Kilamanjaro and go white water rafting.”
James, a former Balwearie High School pupil, got involved with Project Trust after realising he wasn’t really sure what he wanted to do at university.
“I had always fancied the idea of a gap year and after reading up on it and speaking to people who had done it I decided it would be a great thing to do.”
James applied and spent a week on the Isle of Coll on a selection and training course. He also had to raise a large amount of money towards the cost of the trip, which he did through a series of fundraising events, including various sponsored events and a ceilidh which were well supported by the local community.
“It has been hard work, but it will all be worth it. There is one other boy from Edinburgh who I met on the training week at the same school as me, so I will know him.
“I know the facilities are basic, with no electricity and showering in buckets of water, but I’m looking forward to it. Uganda is such a beautiful country and I can’t wait to get out there and meet the children and start this big adventure.”
To follow James’ experience, visit his blog: lyoninuganda.blogspot.