Hair-raising time as Leston prepares for volunteering
An Aberdeen youngster is preparing for a once in a lifetime trip to South Africa.
Leston D’Costa, 17, will join his Aberdeen Grammar classmates and spend a month volunteering and immersing himself in the cultures of four different countries in June.
The trip will begin with a gruelling start, however, with the group taking on a trek over some of the hardest walks in the area.
Crossing the borders of South Africa and Lesotho, Leston will start his expedition by following the 37-mile Giant’s Cup Hiking Trail.
The trek will take the 36-strong group five days, tackling altitudes of up to 2,876m (9,435ft) as they venture through grassy plains, deep valleys and river pools.
And after completing the walk, the group will face some more hard work travelling to Swaziland, which has the highest HIV prevalence rate in the world.
Over the next six days, Leston and his friends will work with some of the country’s 180,000 children who have been orphaned by Aids.
Supported by travel company World Challenge, the youngsters will help communities by building shelters and a medical centre.
They will then enjoy some time relaxing with a week exploring some of Mozambique’s adrenaline activities, including a wildlife safari and swimming with sharks.
Leston, who is currently waiting to find out if he will be accepted to study medicine at university, said: “I think it will be a really good opportunity to go abroad and experience a new culture before I head to university.
“It will be with all my schoolfriends too, so it will be good to do this before I leave.
“My brother went to Peru four years ago and he had a great time and got to see Machu Picchu, and it was his idea for me to go for this.”
Leston is currently in the middle of raising the money he needs to pay for the journey.
“Each of the students has to raise £4,000 for themselves and then the group as a whole needs £10,000 for the activities at the end,” he said.
As well as continuing his lessons at school, Leston has been working part-time at a restaurant and a care home to raise the funds needed for the trip. He has also been using his free time to tutor other school pupils in maths and chess, but his biggest money-earner so far has been cutting off all his hair.
He added: “It was really long and it got to the point where my brother suggested I should just shave it all off to raise money.
“I received about £560 in donations online and then other people gave me money, so I got around £650 from it altogether.”
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Leston D’Costa cut his hair off to raise money towards the trip to South Africa