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Little starjumps in Croydon having a big effect in Uganda

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IN 2010, Croydon geologist Dave Rutherford decided to set up a charity that would help people in a small Ugandan village become self-sufficient.

Three years later, the Grace Children's Village project has gone from strength to strength and is now providing schooling for 160 children, work for 21 adults and helping to educate local farmers in the village of Nyamiyaga.

With the help of Ugandan co-founder David Bakeine, a school was opened in 2010, a pig-breeding programme has been launched as well as HIV testing for students, and now Croydon children are getting involved in fundraising.

In a bid to raise money for Grace Children's Village, Mr Rutherford began the Million Challenge, which tasks children and adults to get sponsorship to do 1,000 star jumps in 2013.

Croydon High School and Skillz Football Coaching are among the groups that have got involved and Mr Rutherford, who lives in East Croydon with his family, now believes they will easily pass one million star jumps, which will help to fund a new multi-purpose vehicle for the village.

He said: "I met the co-founder David Bakeine when I was working on a rhino project in Uganda in 2005. We started a campaign to help Ugandans during Christmas and then slowly we started helping children through the whole year. A lot of people tell me how surprised they are at how successful we have become in such a short amount of time, but you can always do more.

"I have a day job in Islington and then I spend some time with my kids, then start work on the project at about 9.30pm each day; as long as I have five hours' sleep I'm fine.

"Hopefully we can raise the £8,000 needed for the new vehicle, which will be used to transport harvests, bring children safely to the school, and generate income for the village through vehicle hire to local tourists."

Dave decided to get Croydon children involved in spreading the word and, thanks to some help from Skillz Coaching, children as young as two are doing their starjumps for charity.

Skills Coaching founder Ashley Thomas said it was a great way to get children involved in the project.

He added: "A little ten-year-old girl gave £60 towards the charity and I explained to her that not only did she buy a pig for a family, but she had also given a man a job farming with that money too. Her face just lit up."

For more information on the challenge and the project, visit www.gracechildrensvillage.org or www.justgiving.com/millionchallenge2013

Little starjumps in Croydon having a big effect in Uganda


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