Norfolk boy Oscar pledges to help other children affected by war after escaping the horrors of his homeland

Oscar Kashemwa Oscar Kashemwa

Monday, June 9, 2014
6:30 AM

A Norfolk boy, who witnessed atrocities that no child should see, has pledged to help other children in his homeland whose lives have been turned upsidedown by civil war.

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Children in care awards ceremony

Children in care from across Norfolk gathered at St Andrew’s Hall, in Norwich, on Saturday to celebrate their talents, skills and achievements.

The What an Achiever awards are given each year to mark academic, sporting and cultural success and to recognise children and young people’s personal development and progress.

Norfolk County Council runs the annual celebration event through its Virtual School, which was set up to raise attainment among the county’s 1,000 children in care. The Virtual School oversees the education of all of Norfolk’s looked after children and has its own headteacher and governing body.

James Joyce, chairman of the children’s services committee at Norfolk County Council, said: “These awards celebrate the amazing accomplishments of our looked after children, who have achieved very many fantastic things in spite of the difficulties they have faced in their lives.

“We are hugely proud of them and the significant effort they have put into both their school lives and their hobbies and interests.

“Their success is down to their own personal determination, as well as the invaluable support of their foster carers, social workers and schools. These children and young people are an inspiration to us all.”

When Oscar Kashemwa fled the war-torn African country of the Democratic Republic of Congo as a refugee, he could speak very little English.

The 13-year-old, who experienced first-hand the horror of war and the death of his mother, spoke of his plans to help other children caught up in conflicts by organising a fundraising event for War Child later this month.

The teenager, who had never ridden a bicycle in the Congo, aims to raise more than £500 for the charity by cycling 80 miles on June 28.

In his country, more than two million children have died as a result of a long-running war and children of Oscar’s age are abducted from their families and forced to become soldiers.

Oscar Kashemwa with Chloe SmithOscar Kashemwa with Chloe Smith

The schoolboy, who lives near Norwich, with his brother and sister, is already excelling in his school work and dreams of becoming a vet - three years after coming to Norfolk from an Ugandan refugee camp.

Oscar was one of 80 children and young people in care in the county who received awards for their achievements from Norfolk County Council at the weekend.

The boy, who is part of the Virtual School programme, to improve the education of children in care, is already above average in many subjects, including science.

He said: “When I came here my English was terrible. I could say ‘hello’ and a few words. Now I want to help people like me.”

“Here you can go to a shop and get food, but in Africa you can not do that. I had to walk miles a day for food and water and the water here is clean.”

Oscar has almost hit his £500 fundraising target for the charity cycle ride for War Child, which helps children who are victims of war around the world.

The conflict in the Congo is sometimes known as Africa’s first world war and has been fought since 1994. One in five children will die before their fifth birthday because of the conflict or of preventable or curable diseases. More than one million people have been forced to flee their homes.

His award citation said: “Oscar has shown exceptional resilience since arriving in the UK. He is mastering the language and integrating into his community very successfully.

“He has had to learn so much for a child of his age with no previous concept of what life would be like outside of his African village. He is a remarkable young man. We are privileged to have him within our Virtual School.”

To sponsor him, visit www.justgiving.com/oscarandwill

Are you raising money for a local or international charity? Email adam.gretton@archant.co.uk

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