Nathan returns from African volunteering adventure

From building schools to going on an African safari, an Edinburgh College student did it all as he travelled across the world to carry out volunteer work with an Edinburgh-based charity.

Eighteen-year-old Preparation for Employment student Nathan Matulaitis from Glasgow travelled to the rural village of Tembwe in Zambia with The Grassmarket Community Project to take part in a month of volunteer work.

Nathan and a team of fellow volunteers were tasked with building the roof of the town’s all-girls secondary school. Due to the village’s remote location, without the new school, the pupils would face an uncertain future with little to no education beyond primary school.

Nathan said: “When I was at College last year, I completed a two-week work placement with the woodwork team at The Grassmarket Community Project which I really enjoyed. After the placement they asked me if I would like to go to Africa with them to carry out some volunteer work which I thought sounded like a brilliant opportunity.

“The village we were based in was so remote that when we arrived in Africa it took us a further two days of travelling before we got to where we would be working.  The location of the village also meant that we had to walk each morning to go and collect enough water for the day.

“The experience was amazing and I really enjoyed being part of the team. My favourite part was the safari trip – we seen loads of animals including elephants, lions and hippos.”

Edinburgh College work placement support coordinator Sandra Gallagher said: “Nathan’s attitude and commitment during his work placement with the Grassmarket Project, which was secured as part of his College course, was exceptional. We were delighted when he was then asked to go on a community rebuild programme in Africa as a result of all of his hard work.”

The Grassmarket Community Project takes an innovative approach to creating community and providing sanctuary and support to participants, many of whom are amongst the most vulnerable of our citizens, through mentoring, social enterprise, training and education in a nurturing environment.

Tommy Steel of the Grassmarket Community Project said: “This was a life changing experience for everyone. We were so proud of the work we managed to do and the skills we passed on to local people. We also funded a well which put water in the village for the first time ever. We went through so many different emotions from all the different experiences but none more so than the laughter when Nathan was chased by a baboon.”