Norwich executive in India to help teenagers

A Norwich executive has flown to India to help children prepare for the world of work.

Annaka Charters, who works at Grant Thornton, left for Jaipur on Saturday with fellow employee Paul English from London.

Together they will be spending two weeks at a school in the city's slums to help children aged 15 and 16 as part of the company's national overseas volunteering programme.

Through the programme, which started four years ago, volunteers from the financial and business advisers take a break from their everyday office life to help at the Vihaan School.

Miss Charters, 27, said: 'I've wanted to participate in the volunteering project since its launch as part of my own personal development and I am very excited about experiencing a totally different culture that's out of my comfort zone.'

Former UEA student Miss Charters and her colleague Mr English, 40, completed a Teaching English as a Foreign Language course in London before they went to India.

They also started raising money for the trip, with Miss Charters, who lives in the city centre, organising cake sales and dress- down days at the Norwich office. She also hopes to do more when she returns.

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She said: 'Although fundraising is not a requirement, Paul and I also hope to raise enough money to fund a teacher's salary at the Vihaan School for another year.'

Launched in 2007, Grant Thornton's overseas volunteer programme has seen individuals and teams working with communities in the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Honduras, Kenya, Costa Rica, Vietnam and the Galapagos Islands, to improve living conditions and develop local environmental and education initiatives. Over the past four years, volunteers have raised more than �7,500 to pay for maths, science and Sanskrit teaching staff at the Vihaan School, as well as classroom materials and a computer. The 2008 team also funded a carpentry and bangle- making unit to help older students with the skills to financially support their families.

As part of the volunteering programme the company has also helped locally with staff at the Norwich office helping at the PACT Animal Sanctuary at Woodrising, near Hingham.

Are you taking on a challenge for charity? Contact Local Life editor Richard Wood on 01603 772423 or email