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Gift of hope from Mercury readers

PUBLISHED: 11:27 18 December 2008 | UPDATED: 12:34 03 July 2010

SCHOOLBOY Kenneth Odongo stands proudly behind a simple wooden desk, clutching a bundle of pens and exercise books.

Grinding poverty stands between the 11-year-old and his family who are too poor to look after him - but the gift of school materials from the Great Yarmouth Mercury is a glimpse of a more affluent society that cares and wants to help.

SCHOOLBOY Kenneth Odongo stands proudly behind a simple wooden desk, clutching a bundle of pens and exercise books.

Grinding poverty stands between the 11-year-old and his family who are too poor to look after him - but the gift of school materials from the Great Yarmouth Mercury is a glimpse of a more affluent society that cares and wants to help.

Kenneth is the first of 25 children at the children's home and school in Kisumu, Kenya, to benefit from the kindness of readers who responded with exceptional generosity to an appeal launched by Bruno Peek for 25 desks at £30 each.

The appeal more than doubled its target in little more than a week helping to launch a new fundraising drive for a classroom.

Pageantmaster Mr Peek is currently at the Kenyan school overseeing the making of the desks on-site by local carpenters. Each desk comes with its own lock, nine exercise books, two pens, two pencils, a compass, ruler, protractor and rubber which will stay with the child for its school career.

For most of the children it will be the first time they have been given anything new - and certainly will be the only gift they will receive this Christmas - in stark contrast to many local children in loving homes and full of expectation about what Santa will bring.

Kenneth arrived with a younger brother at the Covenant Home run by Pat Botwright from Diss three years ago after their father died. Their mother was not able to care for the five boys and two girls in the family so she told her eldest daughter to bring the boys to the home and they have not seen the rest of their family since.

But Mr Peek said the boys felt blessed to be at the home and were grateful for the love they receive from Pat and the other children.

Kenneth is hoping to be a doctor and his brother a pastor. Mr Peek said they both thanked Mercury readers for their help and support and wished them a Merry Christmas.

He has just completed his Grade 3 class and is said to be very pleased with his lovely new desk donated by the Mercury.

Photographs of each young person with their desk will be sent to donors.

An anonymous donation of £500 is being used to kickstart a new classroom appeal. Cheques made payable to the Covenant Home Trust can be sent to Mr Peek at 21 Coverdale Road, Carlton Colville, Lowestoft, Suffolk NR33 8TD.

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