Government delay could threaten school dedicated to Climbie

Plans to build a school with funds raised by a charity set up by
Victoria Climbie’s parents could be under threat unless the
government honours its promise to donate £10,000 within the
next three weeks, writes Sally

Francis and Berthe Climbie, who are on a five-week visit to the
UK to launch and publicise the charity established in their
daughter’s memory, were told by the children’s minister
that she could not guarantee when the money would be given.

At a 45-minute meeting with the Climbies last week, Margaret
Hodge offered the money, but warned that as it was for an overseas
project parliamentary approval was needed, raising doubts it would
be available in time.

But the Climbies, who have so far raised just £4,000 of the
£250,000 needed to build and run the school for five years,
now fear they will not get the £12,500 they need to secure the
purchase of the land before they fly back home to the Ivory Coast
next month.

The money would be used to buy half of the land needed for the
school, which is being sold to the charity by elders within Mr and
Mrs Climbie’s community for a quarter of the normal
£10.00 per square yard price.

Money from The Victoria Climbie Charitable Trust, which was
formally launched last week, will pay for a school in Abobo, a
suburb of Abidjan, the capital of the Ivory Coast, where Victoria
was born.

Mr Climbie told Community Care: “My family, friends and
community are very excited about this school, not just excited but
hopeful too. That is why it must be a success. We have qualified
teachers in the area who willing to work for half their salary and
have already formed a committee.”

Eight-year-old Victoria Climbie was entrusted to the care of her
great aunt Marie-Therese Kouao in the belief that would receive an
education in England.

But she died in February 2000, 10 months after arriving in the
UK, having suffered appalling abuse at the hands of Kouao and her
boyfriend Carl Manning. Both were jailed in 2001.

Mr Climbie said: “Providing this school in Abobo will give
at least some children an opportunity. It might open the gates for
them to fulfill their potential and stop them making the journey
Victoria did.”

* To make a donation to the Victoria Climbie Charitable
Trust go to
or call 020 7618 9181 Or send a cheque, made payable to The
Victoria Climbie Charitable Trust, to PO Box 184, Southall,
Middlesex UB7 7RR

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