A HUNTINGDON social worker who set up her own charity to help under-privileged children in Ecuador has received the backing of indie stars Snow Patrol.

A HUNTINGDON social worker who set up her own charity to help under-privileged children in Ecuador has received the backing of indie stars Snow Patrol.

Sarah Clarke, 36, who works for the National Youth Advocacy Service (NYAS), founded the Mashi Foundation after visiting the South American country six years ago.

She approached Snow Patrol for support in 2009 and last year met lead singer Gary Lightbody, who offered his backing and promoted her organisation on his website.

Sarah also makes and sells eco-friendly jewellery to raise funds for her charity.

In January, Snow Patrol ran a competition to win limited edition pieces of her jewellery, which generated more than 1,000 hits on her website.

Sarah said: "Gary was really great and they have been so supportive."

Since founding the charity, Sarah has built a nursery in the isolated Loma Grande community, and has provided access to dental and medical care for families.

The nursery has been open for a year and employs three women. It provides day care for parents who have to work and would otherwise have to take their youngsters - from as young as three weeks old - to work in the fields with them.

The majority of parents in Loma Grande cannot read or write and see education as a way out of poverty.

The next big project is to build and equip a classroom for the community's older children, but Sarah needs £11,000 to realise this dream, with ongoing fundraising required to keep it and the nursery going on a long-term basis.

Sarah said: "The parents are completely reliant on manual work. When their children start school at the age of 12, they are so far behind the others because they have had no education. I want to build a classroom and equip it with computers and books, everything they need, to give them the best start.

"The community are very much involved in what we do. We collaborate with them and involve them in everything and ask them what they need and what would benefit them."

The Mashi Foundation is also building a playground for the children of Loma Grande.

Sarah said: "When I am there, I see the children playing on the roofs or playing with tyres and sticks. I can't imagine what it is going to be like for them to have the playground. It's not something they've ever had before."

INFORMATION: To find out more about the Mashi Foundation and how you can help, e-mail info@mashifoundation.org or visit the website at www.mashifoundation.org - to view and purchase the Wapa Wapa Jewellery collection visit www.wapa-wapa.com