Olivia Cowell, a 23 year old teacher, born in Carlisle goes above and beyond to help impoverished children and schools in East Africa.

Her fundraising project focuses around a school named Excel Emmanuel Education Centre in Nairobi, Kenya.

The idea to help the school began with a volunteering stint she did with the charity 'Porridge and Rice' in the summer of 2019.

Olivia went to Kenya for one month to volunteer - teaching the children there, preparing and serving lunches, and arranging activities.

The trip was life-changing so that in April 2020, Olivia received a handwritten letter from one of the students who she had taught, explaining how COVID-19 had caused devastation in the community and the school was forced to close.

Olivia Cowell, said: "I couldn't bare the thought of somewhere so special to me closing, so I had to do something."

Motivated with the inspiration to do good for the community that touched her heart, Olivia started a crowdfunding profile which raised £700.

The short fundraising campaign was such a success that she decided to make handcrafted items to sell on Etsy, she said: "It was the most sustainable source of donations that I could receive, through the selling of my handmade crafts. This then led to me attending an outdoor Christmas fair in Bristol last year, luckily!"

So far, Olivia has had a total of £16,000 in generated income from her Etsy page: 'Hope For Excel'.

This translates to about £9000 in donations (taking out cost of postage and materials) and continues to rise each day.

The money is donated to the schools for the feeding programme which provides the students and staff with two meals every day, increasing the teacher's income, and essential facilities like new desks and printers are also being bought with the funds.

The school had their national exams in March and Olivia was ecstatic at being able to provide them with 45 new desks for the students to complete the exams on.

As a token of appreciation and gratitude, they added Olivia's name and Hope for Excel onto the desks.

Olivia cannot contain her excitement about getting back to the schools in Kenya she has fundraised for, she said: "I am eager to return to the school as soon as COVID restrictions allow.

"I am hoping that people will be inspired by my story and those potentially keen to help out can purchase my items from the Etsy store, which will contribute donations to the school."

Olivia said she would like to extend her own gratitude to the student who wrote the initial letter.

She said: "Caroline Wakio sent me the letter, who is now a dear friend of mine, who writes me a letter every month updating me on her life, her family's situation and how she is getting on.

"She is entirely responsible for the set up of Hope for Excel, so all the benefits that Excel school experience due to the generated donations is due to her."

Olivia's five star Etsy shop is currently at 2,271 sales, which continues to grow each day.

Visit her Etsy page, Hope For Excel here: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/HopeForExcel