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A global volunteering charity sending young volunteers overseas from Coll is entering its 51st year.
The work of Project Trust was highlighted on BBC 2’s recent Scots in China programme presented by Neil Oliver.
It showed 19-year-old Glaswegian Victoria Groom teaching the word ‘dinnae’ to a class of Chinese students.
Victoria, who has now returned to Scotland and is studying to be a lawyer, is one of more than 7,000 17- to 19-year-olds so far who have experienced living and working abroad on Project Trust placements in 22 countries across the world.
There are 15 from Argyll on placements right now, including Oban’s Megan Evans who is three months into a year-long programme teaching disadvantaged children in South Africa. Oban High School pupil Alex Hardie and Hamish Bell, from Campbeltown Grammar School, are both teaching at Pelei Middle School, Jiamusi Shi in Heilongjiang, north-east of China.
Every year between 220 and 250 young people go out to Africa, Asia and Latin America with the education charity that has been based on Coll since 1971. The most on placement in any one year in its past half a century until now has been 300.
The project has also just started a new programme in the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific from nursery to secondary school level. ‘It’s a bit like the Hebrides but much sunnier,’ said Project Trust’s assistant chief executive John Fraser. There are four volunteers teaching English from ‘Kindi’ to secondary school level.
And there are currently 15 young people from Argyll out on placements to learn more about the world and how to become a positive force in it. Next year will see some go from Coll itself.
Each of the young people has to raise £6,200 themselves to help fund their gap year which could take them from Senegal to Japan and Honduras and many other far-flung places on Project Trust’s map.
Before they can be chosen for the Project, applicants have to pass a four-day residential course on Coll. They go back to the island on another two occasions, including a debriefing session.
Mr Fraser added: ‘There is stiff competition to get a place with us. I’d say that the young people we send overseas are a cut above the rest. They have to get through a selection process.
‘We’ve been contributing to life on Coll since we arrived in the seventies. Roughly 10 per cent of passengers on CalMac sailings are down to us and local families act as accommodation hosts.
‘People moan about the youth of today but we get to know some pretty impressive young people.’
Interested in finding out more about project trust? Go to projecttrust.org.uk