A university student from Mickley, near Ripon, is about to embark on a three-month trip of a lifetime to help schools in Kenya.
Laura Mounsey, 20, is jetting off to the east African country on July 10 to work with an international development charity, helping to improve education in impoverished communities.
“I don’t want to go there for three months and think ‘I’ve done it and that’s it’,” Laura, who is studying anthropology at Durham University, told the Gazette. “I want to raise awareness.”
Speaking to the Gazette from her home in Mickley and still feeling under the weather after having her rabies injection in preparation for the trip, Laura said she has never visited an African country before and admitted she is “a bit nervous” about the trip.
“It is so far removed from anything I have ever done before,” she said. “But you can’t just cruise along in life. You have got to take yourself out of your comfort zone.”
And Laura – who hopes to work in the foreign office – is not just working on a continent she has never visited before, but is travelling without any friends or family for company. “I don’t know anyone who is coming on the trip from the charity,” said Laura. “But I am excited to find out more about what work I will be doing and meet more people.”
Laura will meet her charitable companions during a three day training weekend with the charity, Volunteer Work Abroad, in Manchester prior to the the trip.
“I thought I might as well go the whole hog and take myself completely out of my comfort zone,” said Laura.
And Laura, who attended Ripon Cathedral Choir School and studied A-levels in History, French and Biology at St Peter’s School in York, hopes the experience will help to “dispel some of the myths about development”.
“British society gets bombarded with media images,” she told the Gazette. “And reading a book about something such as international development is not the same as getting out there and getting stuck in.”
In addition to sharing her experiences with friends and family when she returns to the UK, Laura will also get the chance to report back to Ripon MP Julian Smith and his senior parliamentary assistant Stephen Naylor, as she is currently completing work experience in Mr Smith’s Skipton constituency office. Mr Smith told the Gazette: “I am delighted to hear about Laura’s three months in Kenya this summer supporting the UK’s important development effort in the country. It is a great opportunity and I look forward to hearing about the work she has been doing on her return.”