Former Wortham pupil and charity founder praises community ahead of biggest fundraiser

Emma Poppenborg and Wagobera Christopher. ANL-161014-162345001

Emma Poppenborg and Wagobera Christopher. ANL-161014-162345001

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A former Wortham Primary School pupil who set up a charity to support disadvantaged and young people in Uganda has praised the support of the local community ahead of its biggest fundraising event.

Emma Poppenborg (previously Thornton) , established Wagobera following a four month trip to rural Uganda 12 years ago. It was launched to support Wagobera Christopher, an 11-year-old boy who finished at the top of his class but unable to go to secondary school because his family could not afford the fees.

Emma Poppenborg with Ben and Stella. ANL-161014-162356001

Emma Poppenborg with Ben and Stella. ANL-161014-162356001

And on Saturday, October 22 at Wortham Village Hall, from 2-4pm, Wagobera’s biggest fundraiser, their 12th annual jumble sale, will be held. Over the years the event has helped raise more than £6,000.

Wagobera is currently supporting ten students — five at university, three at college, and two at high school. Wagobera Christopher is now starting his fourth year at Kampala International University, studying medicine, and is due to graduate in early 2018.

Mrs Poppenborg, who now lives in Worthing, West Sussex, told the Diss Express: “The jumble sale is our biggest fundraiser and the amount we raise is usually equivalent to a year’s worth of fees for one of our university students so it goes a long way.”

This year two students being helped by the charity have graduated from university. Peter completed his degree in education, and now has a job working for a non-governmental organisation (NGO) called Lifewater International, responsible for providing health and hygiene to those in need in Kaliro District in Eastern Uganda.

By supporting one student means that really we are helping whole families and communities at a time

Emma Poppenborg

Such is her influence on Peter’s life that he named his baby girl Emily after the Wagobera founder — Emma is a boys name in Uganda, short for Emmanuel.

“I’m so proud of Peter,” she said. “He is the first person ever to have been to university in his village and the village had a big party to celebrate when he graduated.

“He’s also the eldest sibling in his family which means that he is responsible for helping his parents with his younger brothers and sisters’ own education. By supporting one student means that really we are helping whole families and communities at a time.”

Mary, another graduate, secured her social degree and is currently on the lookout for social work experience, hoping to help disadvantaged young people.

Mrs Poppenborg admits she is “desperate” to visit Uganda again.

“I usually go every two years, which would have meant I would be visiting this year but since I’ve just become a mum it won’t be for a little while yet. However, I’m in touch with the students very regularly — they are already asking when they are going to meet my son Leo.”

To donate to Wagobera, visit https://mydonate.bt.com/charities/wagobera