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A decade of giving children a future

PUBLISHED: 14:36 05 August 2009 | UPDATED: 10:56 23 August 2010

DCF 1.0

DCF 1.0

AN AID worker has travelled to Zambia with a team of volunteers to carry out refurbishment work on the school she founded almost a decade ago. Grandmother Wendy Ely, 63, first visited a city called Ndola in the mid-1990s and, after falling in love with

AN AID worker has travelled to Zambia with a team of volunteers to carry out refurbishment work on the school she founded almost a decade ago.

Grandmother Wendy Ely, 63, first visited a city called Ndola in the mid-1990s and, after falling in love with the people, felt compelled to set up a school.

After humble beginnings in 2000 The Hands of Compassion and its 550 students will be able to celebrate a decade of free education and huge changes to the once semi-derelict building.

Speaking before leaving on Monday she said: "I went over as part of a charity to help build some schools and after I returned home I felt I had to go back.

"The children have nothing and the circumstances which they live in are extremely tough, but the amazing thing is they are so eager to learn.

"We bought a run down old building with a dirt floor and no-roof and gradually over time we have developed it.

"The three volunteers that are coming over will help to improve the building further and they are also actively engaged in raising money for the project."

The school gives children from the desperately impoverished Chipuluksu shanty town one of the only breaks in life they might get.

Although there is one state school in the area it is not enough to cope with the sheer numbers of children in the area. The school accepts youngsters from the age of four and provides them with a seven year education. Additionally anyone who passes their exams will be sponsored through secondary education and beyond.

Mrs Ely added: "The local authorities are great because we help them provide a service that they are not able to manage on their own.

"People from the county have always been a great supporter of the charity and the volunteers are all from the area including one from the Gravesend area."

A fundraising lunch in London's Zambian Embassy is planned to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the school next year. Details are yet to be confirmed.

l If you wish to donate to the scheme send cheques to Hands of Compassion, PO Box 386, Gravesend, DA12 9FE.

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