Update 6/3/15 Any donations of clothes and shoes can be dropped in to St Gabriel’s Church, Marston Road & Shenley Lane, Weoley Castle, West Midlands, B29 5PL between 11.30am – 2pm
A TEENAGER has taken the plunge to raise funds for a charity trip to help children and teachers learn computer skills in Africa.
Northfield shopping centre worker and keen swimmer Dashen Allen has pledged to swim 2.5 kilometres in two hours on February 28 to raise £1,500 to fund a trip to a remote region of South Africa.
The 18-year-old is an A-Level and BTEC student at Shenley Academy and works part time at Clarks shoes – and his classmates and colleagues are helping raise awareness of his cause.
The boys are also asking people to donate shoes and clothing that they can take out to Africa to give to the pupils at Mpondwe school, in the remote Mpumalanga regio.
The school has 149 pupils, some who live up to 10km away and many who have to walk to school barefoot. The home language is Zulu, but all lessons are taught in English.
Dashen and a friend Cameron Andrews, also 18 and a pupil at Shenley Academy, have been invited to help teachers learn IT skills, as well as teaching IT, basic English and Maths to the children.
Dashen, who works Saturdays at Clarks in Northfield shopping centre, said: “I think that the world is so small now, with technology, that we should all be able to reach out a hand and help.
“I feel really privileged compared to the children in this part of Africa, a lot of them walk barefoot to school.
“We just wanted to do something to help, so as well as teaching them basic English, Maths and IT, we thought it would be a good idea to take something over there that the children can use.
“As I work in a shoe shop, I thought of shoes.
“It will also be a great experience to learn about another culture. It’s a once in a lifetime chance to do something like this.”
Northfield Shopping Centre manager Pete Barber praised Dashen for taking on the swimming challenge to raise funds for the trip to Africa.
“It is a big effort by this young man, and I admire his commitment to help young people on the other side of the world, and to pass on his IT skills.
“I know that people in this community are very generous and Unwound urge them to support Dashen with his swim, and by donating shoes and clothing that he can take with him.”
The friends will be staying at Spoin Kop lodge near the town of Ladysmith, in the North East of South Africa, during their two week mission.
They got help arranging their placement from one of their teachers at Shenley Academy, Roxanne White, who had previously visited Mpondwe school.
Dashen is studying for a BTEC in Health and Social Care. He is also studying A-Levels in Psychology, Maths and Biology. He plans to do a sponsored non-stop swim of 2.5k, which is 100 lengths of a 25 metre pool, in order to raise funds.
Dashen aims to complete his non-stop 2.5k swim challenge on February 28 at Northfield leisure centre, between 7am and 9am
He is getting stuck into training, swimming three times a week before school.
“I usually swim about 20 metres so I wanted to come up with a challenge that would actually push me. I think this will, and I hope everyone will support me by making a donation.”
Dashen and Cameron need £3,000 between them to pay for the trip. Any excess funds will also be donated to the school.
Cameron will also be doing a sponsored leg wax, and the boys also hope to organise a non-uniform day and a sponsored football match at their school.
Raj Duggal, Dashen’s manager at Clarks in Northfield shopping centre said his colleagues were all behind him: “I just think it’s incredible what Dashen’s doing. It’s really inspirational.
“The other staff have all been inspired by what he’s doing and we’ve all been asking our friends and family if they’ll donate towards his trip.
“It’s such a worthwhile cause and we wish him the best of luck.”