The Trust awarded Hector £300 to help fund his gap year.  Hector visited South America with Raleigh International.  Here is his report:

“I came back from my travels in South America two weeks ago, having had a very interesting and enjoyable time, and am extremely grateful to the Allan and Ferguson Trust for helping me to make the trip possible. 

Between February and the end of April I took part in a 10-week scheme with the sustainable development charity Raleigh International. It started with a community project in north-west Nicaragua. Our group of 11 venturers and 3 project managers stayed with families within the small village of Santa Cruz, and our job was to build a network of trenches and pipes to provide water for five families within the neighbourhood. Before our work, the women there would spend an hour every day collecting water from wells containing dirty and unpurified water, leading to illness within the community. However, we managed to deliver naturally purified water straight to taps within their dwellings, ensuring a more efficient and healthy water supply that has a great positive impact upon the families.

During my second phase I worked in Tenorio National Park in northern Costa Rica, aiming to improve the trails within the park so that visiting tourists stick to the correct footpath instead of wandering into the rainforest itself, which leads to environmental erosion. This involved digging overflow channels so that the heavy rainfall could run off the footpath instead of leading to saturated soils, replanting obstructing trees in other areas of the park, and in certain areas constructing concrete footpaths. We also tried to work with the local community by giving the primary school students some basic English lessons, as well as interacting with the senior figures by explaining how our work is ensuring ongoing tourism in the region.

My third and final phase with Raleigh was a 3-week trek, during which we covered over 300 kilometres within the Guanacaste region in the north of the country. Days would start at 5am each day, with everyone carrying the group’s equipment including tents, radio for communications, cooking trangias, washing up bowls, food, and their own personal items. Each day we would be allocated different roles within the team such as navigator, cook, and motivator, meaning that we had to learn a number of skills during the trek. Team leaders, changing every two days, would have to keep everyone else’s spirits up, learn leadership skills, and show organisation in allocating breaks. As well as this emphasis on personal development, the trek was also exceedingly good fun, with breathtaking Costa Rican landscapes and the opportunity to create a strong team ethos with fellow peers.

After these three phases with Raleigh International I then travelled around South America with two friends I had met on the project, visiting Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Brazil, gaining an interesting insight into the different cultures of each of the countries.

Thanks once again for your very generous support. If you would like me to come in and give a talk to the group about my experiences and answer any questions you may have on the Raleigh project, or further travel afterwards, I would be happy to do so.”