Carl helps out in Zimbabwe

A 21-YEAR-OLD former Stowupland High School pupil who is spending a year's work experience at a monastery has just returned from a five week mission to Africa with a team of monks.

A 21-YEAR-OLD former Stowupland High School pupil who is spending a year's work experience at a monastery has just returned from a five week mission to Africa with a team of monks.

Carl Melville, from Old Newton near Stowmarket, entered the Community of the Resurrection in Mirfield, west Yorkshire, six months ago.

He has now just returned from Zimbabwe where he has been helping poor communities, visiting orphanages and meeting worshippers in the region.

Mr Melville, who is currently also studying for a degree in theology and is hoping to start training as a Church of England priest in Suffolk after leaving the religious community, said: “We went around the country, which is tense and in a bad way.

“It is impossible to buy bread and water, there are food shortages, there is no water at the houses and electricity is only on for a few hours a day. The pressures of life there are incredible but the resilience of people there touches you, they are still happy, joyful.

“We spent time at the orphanages, gave money to people on the ground for 300 chickens at one village so they can provide for themselves.

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“We have also been collecting old glasses for an optician who is giving her time to operate on people with cataracts who cannot afford the treatment normally. It was a moving experience.”

The former student from the high school near Stowmarket, who gained A levels in media studies art and design and design technology, is half way through his placement at the monastery.

His daily routine starts with getting up at 6am, the first service at 6.45am, followed by breakfast, study, midday mass, prayers, further study, 6.30pm evensong, supper and a final 9.15pm service before going to bed.

He has found the routine demanding and the life at times almost too much, but is committed to his faith and has been in talks with the St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Diocese about becoming a priest in the county.

The Rev Michael Eden, parish priest at St Peter and St Mary's parish church in Stowmarket, said he admired his young worshipper's commitment.

He said: “He has courage to do this. In this day and age, to take time out to consider what is in store for his spiritual future, to take a slower life out of the fast moving society we live in, gives you a chance to consider the serious side of life, which is often overtaken with everyday things.”