Teacher wins BBC Make A Difference Award for helping others in his community

He said: “I was lucky to escape civil war in Ethiopia and I feel fortunate to have found a warm welcome in East London, but I have seen over the years that the gap is widening between the haves and the have-nots, particularly in Newham where I live, and I wanted to help do something about it.”

He was driven to act when he saw a schoolboy walking in old shoes so worn that he could see his toes through them.

He decided to raise money for the Bonny Downs Community Association because of the support they provide for families in the local area. The charity started out as a community centre and later took on the disused Flanders Fields – where, over 125 years ago, children from poorer families were seen playing with no shoes on their feet.

It was learning about this local history and seeing the struggling schoolboy in worn shoes that inspired Mentesnot’s barefoot fundraising walk. He completed 100 miles and encouraged other members of the community to join his mission.

Ahead of the walk, he said: “I have a vision for the future that no child will be walking our streets in a visible manifestation of poverty – and I believe that, by working together, every one of us can make that vision a reality by dreaming big while taking our own small steps to make a difference.”

Caring lecturer walks 100 miles barefoot for poverty-stricken families

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