8 June 2012
Six-year-old Joel Saunders is fast becoming an internet fundraising sensation after being moved to tackle poverty by a Tearfund film.
Joel, who was prompted to act by Tearfund's three minute video, What is Poverty?, hopes to raise thousands of pounds for Tearfund by running two miles on Saturday 23 June with his mum.
His fundraising exploits started with a cardboard collection box before moving online and since then, his passion and conviction have won him massive support.
Joel said, 'I'm getting really sad about the people who are poor in the world.
'I don't understand who did this to them. I watched a Tearfund video about people who are poor, and I want to help them. There has to be somewhere for them to live like a proper house, and I want someone to give them lots to eat.
'It isn't fair that they drink dirty water from wells, and we get clean water from our taps. Some of them can't go to school, and they don't have any money. I want to help them so that they can have lots of food to eat.'
So far nearly £2,000 has been pledged online towards Joel's fundraising efforts for Tearfund.
His dad Martin, who edits Youthwork magazine and is director of youth, children and family ministry at Premier Media Group, said Joel's interest in justice and poverty issues had been sparked initially at school and church and then by the Tearfund video.
Martin said, 'This really hasn't come from my wife and I. To be honest, we'd probably never have thought it was fair to weigh down a six-year-old with the troubles of the world, but he's teaching us that children have an amazing sense of justice.
'So for the past few weeks, he's been badgering everyone he meets to donate money to his fundraising appeal.'
The badgering is obviously working as Joel's campaign has gone viral and attracted widespread and diverse support, including writer and comedian James Corden who tweeted: 'Can we help Joel beat poverty? I hope so, one day.'
Andrew McCracken, Tearfund's UK Director, said, 'It's inspiring to see that Tearfund's work combating poverty made such an impact on Joel and we want to thank the Saunders family for all they are doing.
'It's brilliant when children are moved to action on such big issues and shows that together we can tackle poverty during our daily lives and through our family life.'
You can support Joel here and give direct to Tearfund here.
Read Tearfund's Chief Executive Matthew Frost's comment here.