A GROUP of 15 Basingstoke students experienced the trip of a lifetime when they flew to Africa to volunteer.

The pupils, from The Costello School, in Crossborough Hill, arrived in Ghana on July 8, and were taken to the village of Woe on a three-hour bus ride from the capital, Accra.

Here they were invited to join in a volleyball game with the local children, who, without phones, computers or televisions to entertain them, instead play sport as a pastime in the evenings.

Woe is a fishing village between a lagoon and the sea, both of which provide the main source of income for villagers.

But students discovered that fishing methods were very primitive and that farming in the region was also challenging with the soil being mainly fine, dry sand and irrigation generally carried out manually.

The students volunteered in teaching and construction at two different schools, using teaching resources and lesson ideas that had been previously prepared in England before the trip.

These were adapted and extended once the group became familiar with the challenges of teaching in Ghana.

Ljiljana Jones, one of the teachers who accompanied the group, said: “The Ghanaian students were eager to learn and very excited about the volunteers’ intervention. With a lot of the Ghanaian students wearing torn and patched-up uniforms, and many not even having shoes, they valued education as an opportunity to improve their lives.

“The children in Ghana were extremely friendly, appearing generally content with their lives, smiling all the time and joining in any of the games and activities the Costello students organised.”

Students also helped make bricks to build an extension for one school and dug the foundations for a small canteen before building the walls to four feet in six days at another.

As well as the volunteer work Costello students spent a weekend at Cape Coast, visiting the fort where prisoners were kept before being shipped off to America as slaves.

Ms Jones added: “Despite having no access to technology, Costello students really enjoyed their stay and voluntary work in Woe and said the worst thing about the trip was saying goodbye to the children.

“The majority also said they would love to go again. The children in Woe were also sorry to see our students leave, as were the staff of the volunteer organisation.

“Manned with various Ghanaian memorabilia and personally made clothing, the Costello students left Woe to return to England on July 19 after a trip they are bound never to forget.”

The trip was organised by African Adventures which supports volunteer work in Africa.