Plea for a million buttons

Students Oliver Harris and Dan Fox, both 14, counting buttons
Students Oliver Harris and Dan Fox, both 14, counting buttons
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A religious education teacher has thanked his students and News readers for helping to collect more than 100,000 buttons.

Mugeni Sumba, of Oaklands Catholic High School in Waterlooville, will use the buttons to build a school monument to raise awareness of genocide.

In total, he needs one million buttons and says he has been overwhelmed after receiving around 113,000 in just two months.

A group of 27 year nine RE students will use the buttons to fill four transparent pillars pinned to a painted atlas to say ‘never again’ to atrocities ranging from the Holocaust to the Rwandan genocide.

Mr Sumba says the race is now on to get the monument created in time for Holocaust Memorial Day on January 27.

‘This project has shown me how when people put their minds to something, things begin to happen,’ he says. ‘When we launched our appeal in The News, I never thought we’d do this well.

‘The students have been counting the buttons and writing back to people who have sent in buttons with letters.

‘I feel so proud of my students who have shown amazing determination to create a memorial that will be a reminder to others about the terrible atrocities of genocide.’

Mr Sumba has also revealed some of the stories that have accompanied the buttons. Students are now planning to compile some of them for a DVD.

‘We have heard from people who were directly affected by the Holocaust,’ he adds.

‘One lady from Newport sent us a button from her husband’s uniform – he served during the Second World War and saw a lot of action all over the world, including the siege of Malta and D-Day.

‘She also sent a button that belongs to her as she said she wanted to be close to her husband who died in 1995.’

He adds: ‘We are still very far from our target – so we hope the response we’ve had from The News’ readers remains strong.

‘We are also appealing to businesses or individuals to sponsor the construction of the memorial. I think anyone would be proud to have their names associated with such a worthy cause.’

Buttons can be sent to The Genocide Project, Oaklands Catholic School, Stakes Hill Road, Waterlooville PO7 7BW, or call (023) 9225 9214.