BIG-HEARTED Jane Strand is looking forward to spending her Christmas vacation in Nairobi.
The trip back into Africa comes at the end of an incredible three months in which she swapped life at the University of Chester for volunteering work in orphanages across Kenya and Ghana.
Jane, from Childer Thornton, was so moved by her African experience that she now plans to return to the Kenyan capital to spend more time helping at the orphanage, Hope House.
And the 22-year-old student is looking into the possibility of paying the £200 fee to put one of the youngsters she met through school for a year.
Jane said: “It was undoubtedly the best thing I have ever done in my life. It really opened my eyes to the world, and I know a lot of people say that after trips like this, but it’s hard to put into words just how amazing the whole experience is.
“I don’t think I could have had a better time, and I even tried to extend my stay for another week. People think of Africa as a big, scary place, but I didn’t feel frightened at all and everyone was very friendly.”
Jane split her time volunteering between Hope House and Orphan Cry in Ghana, where she spent time with around 70 orphans aged between three months and 22 years.
In many cases, the youngsters had lost their parents to AIDS or had been abandoned due to poverty.
Despite the language barrier, Jane and two other volunteers spent time teaching the children basic numeracy skills and taking them on nature walks.
She added: “The children’s whole existence was based around the orphanage, and it was like nothing you could ever imagine.
“They just wanted your love and someone to cuddle, and would spend the whole time climbing on you. It was very easy to become attached to them and heart-breaking to think that you couldn’t really do a lot to help.
“All they wanted to do was help you. There was no clean water so you had to get washed at the well, and they would fight over who washed your clothes. They wanted to help in every way they could and it was just incredible.
“I’m hoping to go back at Christmas and I’m looking into paying the £200 it costs to put one of the youngsters through school for a year.”