STUDENT Emily Burke is helping raise awareness of the plight of young people in strife-torn Zimbabwe.

The 17-year-old, who attends Stonyhurst College in the Ribble Valley, Lancashire, is one of ten sixth-form pupils taking part in a twinning programme with a secondary school in the Zimbabwe capital of Harare.

This is through a project called Chirwirangwe, which means "we will struggle together".

It twins Stonyhurst College with St Peter's Kubatana and aims to improve the education of the whole person in both schools, in accordance with the ethos of the Jesuit Missions, which is co-ordinating the programme.

Emily and her school friends, led by college religious studies teacher Mr Paul Warrilow, are promoting the venture by organising fundraising events.

Already they havehelped to raise £4,500.

The Bury girl, who lives in Mere View, said: "There is not enough publicity given to the plight of the people in Zimbabwe and the children's need for a good education, including orphans whose parents have died from HIV and AIDs-related illnesses.

"Chirwirangwe is a way of giving them some hope for a better life and also to raise awareness in Britain and encourage people to lend their support.

"So far we have raised £3,500 towards the building of the sewerage system at St Peter's and are aiming to help them purchase computers for a much-needed computer lab."

Emily continued: "Eventually, we want their students to exchange e-mails with pupils at Stonyhurst so we can get to know one another better.

"But progress is slow because there are frequent power cuts and insufficient telephone lines in Zimbabwe."

Chirwirangwe is to provide a wide range of support, including funding for building improvements, equipment, books and computers.

Pupils at Stonyhurst are benefiting by learning about what is happening politically and culturally in Zimbabwe.