BIG-HEARTED Bedford High School student Ella Masri went on a mercy mission where she experienced the grim realities of life in one of the world’s biggest refugee camps.

The 16 year-old is home after an expedition to the massive Zaatari camp in Jordan where she saw first-hand the devastating effects of civil war in Syria. She has returned having made new friends with some of the 144,000 refugees she helped after seeing harrowing television footage of the conflict made her determined to lend a helping hand.

With support from friends at Bedford High, Ella raised £2,000 to secure a place the Helping Refugees aid programme in Jordan.

“The first family was a woman and her husband, three girls and two boys all aged 11 and under,” said Ella. “I spent some time with the three girls who taught me how to write and read in Arabic in exchange for me teaching them English.”

“The second family was a couple with two sons — a one year-old and an 11 year-old. This family had a bed for the mother as she had recently had an operation on her kidney. She and her husband were beaten up severely on the Syrian border. Due to her medication, she can’t breast feed her son and can barely afford to regularly buy him milk, as well as food to feed the rest of the family.”

Ella and her friends raised the money for her trip through a range of school-based activities.

Ella described how the refugees had lost everything.

“They have no homes, no money and a very uncertain future. They have seen some truly horrible things and have been forced to flee their homes and country. Despite all this they are welcoming, friendly and extremely positive about life. They are really making the best of things, they help each other and I think they realise that having your loved ones with you really is all that matters,” she said.

Bedford High School head teacher Helen Phillips said they were proud of Ella’s achievements.

“At Bedford we instil a sense of social responsibility in all our young people. Ella is a shining example of how, when motivated, young people really can make a real difference to the lives of others.”