Jono's big push for Africa

For Jono Thorne the decision was a straightforward one. While most 12-year-old boys are more concerned about their PlayStations, trainers and fitting in at high school, Jono has proved himself very much the exception to the rule.

For Jono Thorne the decision was a straightforward one.

While most 12-year-old boys are more concerned about their PlayStations, trainers and fitting in at high school, Jono has proved himself very much the exception to the rule.

The youngster from Marsham, near Aylsham, has made it his mission to help a poverty-stricken African village by raising as much cash as he can to help build vital infrastructure.

He has already spent several months saving to pay for the construction of a well in the village of Mlewa, in Malawi. Miles from the nearest clean water supply, the community is one of many which exist only by subsistence and are in desperate need of outside assistance.

Jono's efforts may be on a markedly different scale to those of pop superstar Madonna, but the pair have one thing in common: they are both involved in trying to help people in Malawi.

But while Madonna's activities in the south-eastern African country have attracted controversy and deeply divided opinion, those of Jono are nothing but admirable in the extreme.

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People in Malawi have a life expectancy of less than 37 years, five years lower than 50 years ago; they have a huge problem with Aids and HIV; income per head is less than $1 a day and more than one in 10 newborns die before they reach their first birthday.

Although Jono has to deal with a bone problem which needs painful injections in his stomach every day, he is completely dedicated to the task in hand.

"I went to Namibia when I was seven years old and it really touched my heart," said Jono.

"Last year, I started finding out about how I could help people in Africa who were having a difficult time.

"My dad is involved with a network called Ground Level, which suggested Mlewa as a village which needed some help."

Jono has a target of about £3,500, which has increased since the start of the project because of rising costs.

So far, he has sold bottles of water and home-made bracelets at fun days and fetes, organised games and pursued a host of other ideas to raise £1,800.

"I think it's really important to try to help before you become an adult - people need our help," said Jono.

"Hopefully, I will get the money for the well this year and then I can go on to help with building a community centre and a school."

Mum Joanna and dad Philip said the family was very proud of Jono's efforts.

"He has done all of this himself. We haven't got involved at all as I think it is important we don't take over in any way at all," said Mrs Thorne.

"He was very touched by the fact young children were dying in such numbers and he also feels he has much, much more than any of these children have.

"This isn't just about him raising money from other people, it is also him putting away his pocket money and money people give him at Christmas and birthdays.

"He is very giving and we are very proud of him."

Jono is looking for sponsors who may be able to help cover flights to Africa and printing costs. Anyone who can help can call the Thorne family on 01263 731137.

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