A STUDENT from the North East has been rewarded for her charitable efforts both at home and abroad.
Amy Melody from Sunderland University has dedicated her time to supporting local people to become more employable and helping African children provide food for their communities.
The 22-year-old has now had her efforts recognised for improving lives both in the UK and Africa at a ceremony in Newcastle and has won a further community project award.
The final year criminology and journalism student has made the most of her experience at university to help young carers and college students engage in education after suffering from bad experiences in their school days.
She has also visited Africa twice to help disadvantaged communities and children grow their own food and to teach basic life skills.
Amy was awarded the International Humanitarian Outreach Worker of the Year award from the Mount Kilimanjaro First Aid Community Programme, and was runner-up at the recent Positive Social Behaviour Order Awards in Newcastle for her Youth Leadership work.
Having spent six weeks of her gap year in Ghana, Uganda and Kenya, the 22-year-old student was keen to become involved in the community project as soon as she started her studies.
She said: “When I was younger I helped to look after my family because my mum wasn’t very well, so I had to help look after my two brothers.
“I didn’t feel I had much support when I was younger and I wanted to go out and help people who were in the same situation that I was.
“When I went to Africa I worked in a school helping educate young children and helped to set up a sustainable food programme at an orphanage.
“We helped make them a vegetable patch and educate them on how to look after and grow food for themselves to pass on the skills and not rely on people like me all their life.”
Amy had to sell her own clothes and items on eBay, cycle from coast-to-coast and sell cakes all year round throughout her first year at university to fund her trip.
She has been out to Tanzania twice in her two and a half years at the university, but hopes to go again once she graduates in the summer.
“Once I’ve finished university I want to return there and put something back,” she said. “Words can’t describe the feeling you get when you see their faces.”
Christina Wren, coordinator and founder of the Mount Kilimanjaro First Aid Community Programme, added: “I meet people from all over the world and Amy is one young person who definitely stands out from the crowd because of her passion and desire to help others.”