U.K. gap year program sends Scottish lass to volunteer in Chile

August Holly MacKay is raising money to fly to Santiago and work in a home for victims of abuse and abandonment.

Seventeen year-old August Holly MacKay from Lochaber, Scotland, will spend her gap year working in a home for vulnerable children and adults in Chile, after being sponsored by the U.K. charity Project Trust.

Based on the Hebridean Isle of Coll, the educational charity specializes in sending school graduates aged between 17 and 19 abroad for volunteer placements in Africa, Asia or the Americas.

MacKay, a current student of Lochaber High School, was selected by the institution after successfully completing a rigorous, five-day selection course.

She will be working at the Fundación Coanil, a residential complex which helps support victims of abuse and abandonment in the city of Colina, about an hour north of the capital Santiago.

“I will be working in a small class covering basic skills rather than focusing on academic subjects,” MacKay told the Lochaber News. “During the school holidays of December through March I will work at the home full time. I will be working with residents in groups and one-to-one, doing activities such as arts and crafts.”

“There are around 200 residents who range in age from two to 52. Also, within the Fundación Coanil compound is a school which has around 200 pupils between the age of two months and 25 years of age,” she said. “Some are residents of the home and others from the community.”

However before she can embark on the trip, the Scottish teen must raise a total of £5,100 (US$3,320 or CLP$1.7 million) to go towards accommodation, travel expenses, insurance, support, training and as a demonstration of her commitment.

In April, MacKay kicked off her fundraising effort, hiking the Great Glen Way with friends Kirsty Delaney, Shona Macdonald and Jodie Halford to raise £1,200 (US$780 or CLP$400,000).

To make a donation to MacKay’s volunteer trip, click here.

To follow her fundraising campaign and her time in Chile, go to her Facebook page. And for more information about ways you can volunteer in Chile, check out our guide to volunteering.