‘Instead of opening my GCSE results, I got the chance to kiss a giraffe,’ says Ruby, 16 | Portsmouth High School

‘Instead of opening my GCSE results, I got the chance to kiss a giraffe,’ says Ruby, 16

This summer, Portsmouth High School pupil, Ruby Dale, 16, embarked on a charity initiative through Hampshire Scouts. She carried out aid work, cleaned and painted classrooms at a local Ugandan school and donated mosquito nets to a local hospital. She was in Africa for three weeks with eighteen scouts from across Hampshire. Ruby started her adventure over two years ago.

‘I was one of eighteen scouts chosen from 300 initial applicants to embark on this expedition,’ said Ruby.

‘Over the two years, I had to fundraise £4000. I did this by having sweet and craft sales, bag packing at supermarkets, delivering directories and newspapers and holding race nights.

‘On 1st August my bags were packed and I said goodbye to the luxuries of home and set off to Uganda. For the first sixteen days, we were camping on the school site in tents and getting accustomed to the local ‘long drop’ toilets which were nothing more than a hole in the ground.

‘We managed to not only clean, paint and decorate the ten classrooms making up the whole school but we also become Ugandan scouts, and were taught African dances, won two games of football against the Ugandan scouts and learned a great deal about the African culture.

‘As a result of our fundraising our troop was able to supply the local hospital with mosquito nets to help prevent the spread of malaria, supply and fit a new water tank, provide sanitary wear and blankets and even do some minor plumbing jobs in the hospital. The hospital was made up of five rooms, the male, female and children’s wards, the maternity ward and an operating theatre – all about the size of a Sports Hall.

‘While we were there, we were able to visit the two water wells which our troop had fundraised for, supplying water to over 800 people. This meant that the local water source was changed from a mouldy pond to a constantly running fresh water source. It was amazing to see with my own eyes the difference that our fundraising had made.

‘The last part of our adventure was in Kenya, stopping off on the way to white water raft down the Nile. We then continued and made our way to the Masai Mara where we managed to see lions, elephants, giraffes, cheetahs, leopards, hippos and even managed a lucky escape having been charged at by a rhino in our safari cart.

‘An unforgettable moment was stopping for lunch in our vans, and from behind us came a herd of elephants marching between the transport. We visited the Masai warriors and local villagers of the town and visited the local elephant and giraffe sanctuary. At the moment I should have been opening my GCSE results, I got the chance to kiss a giraffe!

‘I had the most amazing time on this trip and made lots of great new friends. I will remember every moment of my time there forever and I would like to thank everyone that donated money towards the trip and made it possible for me to go and help lots of amazing people.’

Ruby is now in Sixth Form at Portsmouth High School and studying for A Levels in mathematics, design technology and history.

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