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Last Updated: Wednesday February 09 2005 11:49 GMT

Everyone deserves to go to school

Shetal and other pupils from her school speaking at the Send My Friend to School launch
Shetal and other pupils from her school speaking at the Send My Friend to School launch
A million paper figures are being cut out and sent to world leaders to remind them that everyone deserves to go to school.

The figures, or buddies, represent over a hundred million children around the world who are too poor to go to primary school.

The buddies will be sent to eight of the world's most powerful leaders, called the G8, through the Send My Friend to School Campaign.

Shetal addressed pupils, politicians and dignitaries at the launch of the campaign in London.

"We've been cutting out and decorating buddies at school; we made 350 in just under an hour.

Once students knew they were making buddies to help children in Africa and other countries, they really enjoyed it.

They really felt what they were doing was worthwhile and everyone got really involved.

Some of our buddies are decorated with material, some are coloured in and some have messages for the world leaders on the back.

Overcome poverty

By sending the buddies to the G8, who are meeting in Scotland in July, we want to stress how important it is to overcome poverty in countries all over the world.

I would like these leaders to come up with a solution or a suggestion about how to eliminate poverty.

This might mean richer countries helping poorer countries to pay off their debts, sending them more resources and building more schools.

Blue Peter presenter video

Our school played a big part in helping make a video about the poverty in countries like Africa with Blue Peter's Konnie Huq.

It was a very special event and a real honour that she came to our school.

Shocking poverty

It was quite shocking to learn how many people are still suffering through poverty.

Many have to work at a young age to help support their families, when they could be getting a good education.

They have done nothing to deserve this and they should be given the opportunity to go to school.

Missing out

Without an education, children are missing out on an opportunity to help them build their future.

In today's world it is really important to get an education and a right that everybody should be given.

I met Nelson Mandela

Last week, I met Nelson Mandela at the Make Poverty History rally. I was shaking before I went on stage.

He shook hands with me and I untied a white band from his wrist.

I told him that I would make sure the band reaches Tony Blair and the other world leaders at the G8 summit along with my buddy. I am hoping to go in person.

It was a really amazing privilege and honour to meet Nelson Mandela as he is such a great man.

In their shoes

To someone who is not bothered about what is happening in other countries, I would say: 'Put yourselves in the shoes of the children who are suffering from poverty and who can't go to school.'

'Think about what these children go through day after day.'

Hopefully, this would change their minds, their thoughts and their beliefs."

Shetal, 15, London

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