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It's a hands-on Christmas for green-fingered orphans.

05 Dec 2007

Buy a handprint and improve the lives of Ugandan children.

A researcher is highlighting the plight of orphans and vulnerable children in Uganda with a Christmas tree made from thousands of their handprints.

Jennifer O'Brien from The University of Manchester has just returned from Kibaale District, in mid western rural Uganda where she worked for 15 months in the local hospital as part of her research project.

Jen hopes to raise enough cash to buy land for a school in an effort to provide high quality education for the impoverished youngsters - many of whom are HIV positive.

She was appalled by the plight of the local children who have been orphaned by disease, conflict or chronic poverty.

Others - often as young as five or six  - act as the sole carers for their sick families.

Their desperate need inspired Jen and former colleague at the University, Lesley Harris, to offer the children the chance to improve their future.

Armed with a tin of green paint and recycled paper, Jennifer, Lesley and hundreds of the children made handprints to represent leaves on a Christmas tree.

She said: "If you buy a handprint, I'll add it to a six foot high frame you'll be able to see around the School of Environment and Development on The University of Manchester campus.

"But we might have our work cut out as there are four to fill - hopefully by Christmas.

"The Christmas tree idea is a way to raise funds to directly improve children's lives but it's also about raising awareness about a situation which people in the West know little about.

"Donations should be made directly to me - email at"