A YEAR of fundraising has paid off for a Borders student who is now fulfilling her ambition of teaching underprivileged children in the developing world.
But four weeks into an eight-month gap year stint in the west African republic of Senegal, Kayleigh Glendinning admits her biggest problem is her Selkirk accent!
The 18-year-old former Selkirk High School head girl is in the bustling Atlantic port of Ziguinchor, working with the charity Project Trust which sends UK school leavers to work voluntarily in more than 20 countries.
Last year The Southern reported that Kayleigh was trying to raise £4,395 to realise her dream. She gave riding lessons for local children, sold tray bakes, organised a charity auction and persuaded local businesses and organisations to make donations.
In fact, she achieved her goal with £500 to spare and before leaving for Senegal last month, she handed over a cheque for that amount to the Tweed Valley Mountain Rescue Team.
Kayleigh had applied to Project Trust because she wants to be a teacher, specialising in young children with additional needs, including learning difficulties. When she returns from Senegal in the summer she will take up a teacher-training place at Strathclyde University.
Originally she was allocated a placement in Sri Lanka, but the charity decided the political situation made a posting too hazardous for its volunteers.
Now teaching English and drama in a school with no fewer than 5,000 French-speaking pupils, Kayleigh contacted us last week to pass on her thanks to all who supported her.
“I have been in Senegal for just over three weeks now and I am really enjoying it, assisting in English classes and working with the English club which has around 70 plus members,” writes Kayleigh.
“They are a bunch of very enthusiastic and passionate people who really appreciate our help.
“On Saturday [February 12], the club is performing a drama I have written for a festival, with dancing, singing and plays all taking place.
“At my first class with 60 pupils, I spoke about my fundraising efforts, but they seemed more interested in learning about the Royal family, with the emphasis on Kate Middleton and Prince William.
“Although people are struggling with my Selkirk accent they all paid attention and seem determined to succeed. They are beginning to understand me better now and I just need to speak slowly and clearly.
“With my fellow Project Trust volunteer Alma Rose from London, we are also helping in local nurseries and primary schools, and we are hoping to get involved with the orphanage in the city where many of the street children go.”
Kayleigh adds: “The people here are so friendly and welcoming and I’m very happy to be here.
“We are living on the school premises in a little house next to the headmaster.
“Lunch and dinner consists of rice and either fish or meat. I am getting more used to the mice and wee creatures that like to call.
“Music is a huge part of the Senegalese lifestyle and you cannot go far without hearing music – it helps put a spring in our steps and is always blasting out of taxis and shops.
“I would like to thank everyone in the Borders who has helped and supported me get to Senegal.”
To get in touch with Kayleigh, email her on firstname.lastname@example.org