Teachers and pupils build homes for Romanian orphans

Teacher Alistair Robertson and 6th year pupil Iona Taylor
Teacher Alistair Robertson and 6th year pupil Iona Taylor
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A GROUP of pupils and staff from a high school in the Capital are to spend ten days building homes for orphans in one of the poorest countries in Europe.

Fourteen sixth year pupils and two teachers from The Royal High School have taken on the challenge to help build safe, clean and comfortable houses for orphans in Beius, Romania.

The project, in aid of charity Habitat for Humanity, is thought to be the first of its kind by a high school in Edinburgh.

And the school must first raise around £20,000 for the charity, with pupils and staff organising a series of fundraisers to help reach their target before setting off on June 8.

Alistair Robertson, who teaches English and media studies at the school, said: “The money raised will be used to pay for specialist workers, equipment and materials to build the houses.

“We will be on the sites themselves, putting up walls, plastering or painting and decorating. We will be doing that side-by-side with the local community, as well as the people who will be moving into the houses.

“In this instance it will be families who have recently taken in orphans. Previously the type of houses they were in would’ve been in a horrific condition.”

The 31-year-old, who lives in Leith, added: “Everyone is incredibly excited, it’s one of these things that we all realised could be something special.”

Pupils and staff will pay for their own accommodation and flights – around £350 each.

They have already raised around £7000 for the charity through various events, including a Strictly Come Dancing evening which raised around £1800, and a Harry Potter day which saw the school transformed into Hogwarts and raised £700.

Iona Taylor, 17, from Silverknowes, is among the sixth year pupils preparing for the trip.

“Romania is so poverty-stricken so it feels like a really good thing to do and a really positive experience,” she said.

“I’m a bit apprehensive about doing the work because physically it will be challenging.”

Forthcoming fundraising events include pupils and staff cycling the distance from Edinburgh to Romania – around 1500 miles – on exercise bikes at Ocean Terminal on April 12 and 13.

They will also take part in The Mighty Deerstalker run in Peeblesshire on March 17 and will be collecting donations in return for “brick stickers”, which will be placed on a makeshift house in St Andrew Square on March 24 to represent the contribution made.

Laoise Ward, a guidance and maths teacher at the school who will also travel to Romania, said: “I have been lucky enough to take part in one of Habitat for Humanity’s home building projects before and there is nothing else quite like it. Working side-by-side with the people who will be living in the houses is a memory that I treasure.

“I am so excited about taking this amazing group of individuals to Romania so that they can have a similar experience.”