STUDENTS on a trip of African discovery will be following in the footsteps of one of the world’s greatest explorers.

Sixth formers from Emmanuel College, Gateshead, will join a party of students on a two-week expedition of Zambia, in a region explored by 19th century missionary Dr David Livingstone.

The trip is expected to be a life-changing experience for the students as they will be working in the community, with the elderly and orphans who have lost their parents to HIV/AIDS, and other children in an area wracked by poverty.

The six – Emily Ord, of Whickham, Andrew Bell, of Low Fell, Ben Morton, of Felling, Alex Forster, of Dunston, Eleanor Scott, of Low Fell, all 17, and Abigail Gordon, 18, of Fenham – will be joined by students from their sister schools in the Emmanuel Schools Foundation (ESF), Bede Academy, Blyth, The King’s Academy, Coulby Newham and Trinity Academy, Thorne, near Doncaster.

For the past five years the schools have organised expeditions to South Africa but this time will visit Ndubaluba in Zambia to work in Chengelo Secondary School, where ESF vice principals Tim Simms and Andrew Cowling once taught.

The party will fly out on July 13 and students will work with children with special needs and others whose lives have been blighted by HIV/AIDS.

Airline Emirates has allowed them a charity baggage allowance so they can take equipment such as mosquito nets and games.

Ben said: “When you think about Africa you think of safari and game reserves but when you look closer you realise there is so much more and a lot of community work to do. I think this trip is going to be life-changing.”

Andrew added: “I would certainly like to do more to help in Africa in years to come.”

The students had to apply for a place on the expedition and during recent weeks have been working to raise £3,200 to fund it.

Teacher Rob Stewart said: “Africa is a nation of such amazing contrasts; of wealth and poverty, beauty and squalor; the students can’t fail to be moved by what they will experience.”