An Essex woman is trying to raise £100,000 to build another school for disadvantaged children in The Gambia.

Julie Maio, originally from Theydon Bois in Essex, has already helped to fund and build two schools in the West African country.

Now, the 65-year-old hopes to raise a further £100,000 to build a third school to give underprivileged children the opportunity to continue their education past the age of 12.

Julie moved to The Gambia in 1994 with her Italian husband, Luigi Maio, where they set up the country's first pizzeria and later opened a hotel.

When friends opened a local school for children from poor backgrounds, Julie offered her financial and administrative support.

Julie Maio said: "Our mission is to help as many children as we can with a good education.

"We started with the nursery school, then we built the primary school, and now we’re working towards providing secondary school education.

"The children here are desperate to go to school and we want to make it happen for them.

"We couldn’t do it without the very generous donations from these businesses, churches, and of course private sponsors.

"Education is key to freedom, freedom of choice, and freedom for the future.

"Young women should be able to choose if they want to work or have a family, young men need to be able to work in skilled jobs to support their families and pass down those choices to their own children.

"And this can all happen here, in school."

In 2010, when one of the school's founders had to leave due to health issues, Julie assumed responsibility for the school's finances and administration.

With the help of donors worldwide, the Jofi School expanded from 20 students to 120.

To take their education mission further, Julie initiated a drive to expand the school into primary education.

In 2016, after acquiring suitable land, she started a primary school that quickly grew in size and reputation.

However, to meet the rising demand and extend education to older kids, Julie is now committed to raising funds for a third school.

Those interested in contributing to the cause can visit and search 'Jofi School'.