From 8 July to 4 August, a group of Year 11 girls embarked on a four week life-enhancing trip as part of Team Wiracocha on a fully-supported volunteering expedition to South America. They witnessed some of the most amazing Peruvian scenery, from some of the deepest canyons in the world, to mountain glaciers and intense jungles as they trekked the Salkantay Trail and visited the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu.

Led by Camps International, a global leader in ethical and sustainable school expeditions, the trip to Peru provided senior girls with the opportunity to further develop key life skills.  Our group was teamed with a catholic, co-educational mainstream school from Nottingham which made for an exciting exchange of experiences and firm friendships were forged in the first few days.

The skills and experiences that Manor House girls learn beyond the classroom is equally as important as their time at school.  Academic success is just one key element of their education. The Peru Trip gave senior girls the detail with which to strengthen their university applications and challenging experiences on which to reflect in future job interviews. Girls strengthened their cultural understanding and widened their global perspective, an important attribute for an increasingly international twenty first century.

On day two, they reached Camp Moray, a short drive from Cusco and located in a small village on the outskirts of the unique Moray ruins.  Our group spent five days helping to build toilet blocks and clearing the site in preparation for a community centre.

Mid-way through the trip at Camp Caylloma, in the small village of Madrigal, overlooked by the impressive mountains surrounding the Colca Canyon, the team helped construct an Elders’ Meeting House and much needed maternity unit, which it is hoped will be ready for this summer and open within the next two months.

On day twenty, the trek arrived at Camp Titicaca involving a drive over the pass at 4950m and offering a fantastic view of the Valley of the Volcanoes.  After establishing camp on the shores of Lake Titicaca, the girls worked hard to help a local school build a toilet block and cesspits. The challenge was to convince pupils and families of the need for improved facilities and why they would offer a safer and more hygienic alternative.

Miss Gall, Head of Key Stage 4, who accompanied girls on the trek, said “It really was lovely to see how the girls adapted to the new environment, cuisine and friendships when many of them had never even travelled to Europe without their family before, never mind South America.”

The trip helped challenge the girls’ views of the world and meant that they were able to appreciate first-hand the day to day challenges that rural communities still face in Peru. To be part of projects that transformed the lives of those people were truly #unforgettable experiences.