WHEN Dorothy and Michael Dix co-founded a charity to help impoverished children, they worked from the kitchen table in their modest Reading flat.

Most of us are concerned with what we have and how we can make money to better our homes, cars and possessions.

But what drives Dorothy isn't the want of material things.

For Dorothy, she already possess the greatest gift of all– an education.

Samantha Harman meets the passionate woman, and her team of dedicated volunteers, to discover how they're Creating Better Futures.

MRS DIX knows first hand the life-changing effects sponsorship can have.

While growing up in Africa, Dorothy benefitted from projects run by Rotary International.

At 16, she was granted the opportunity to receive an education at The Red Cross Nordic United World College in Norway.

She later received a scholarship at the University of Reading, where she was to meet husband Michael.

Education completely changed Dorothy’s life and, along with a team of kind-hearted and dedicated volunteers, she is helping to give other children a better chance in life.

"Education means so much to me. And giving people a chance. That is the only reason I am here today; because I was given a chance.

"The children we are helping- they could go on to be doctors who find cures for diseases, they could make life-changing discoveries. Just because they were born in to hardship doesn't mean they shouldn't get that chance to reach their full potential."

The charity helps feed around 2,000 children every day during term-time. It has secured sponsors for hundreds of children, helped build sanitation facilities and get children in to the classroom.

One big achievement was getting running water at a school- up until that point the children had been drinking 'murky, stagnant' water from a hole in the ground.

It doesn't bare thinking about to us in the relatively affluent Reading. We want water? We turn on a tap. Simple.

But living in poverty in Zimbabwe is far from easy, especially for young women.

The charity is working with Enactus to pilot a range of re-usable sanitary wear for girls.

'Period poverty' holds back young women from receiving a full education, not just in Africa, but across the world.

Poor sanitation often means that during menstruation, adolescent girls are prevented from going to school. And so they lose many days of education and don't reach their full potential.

In Reading, too, CBF is helping people achieve their goals.

It's helped 33 people find employment and runs a very popular internship programme.

I sit down with some of the interns to find out why they want to volunteer with CBF.

"This [internship] appealed to me more than any other because of Dorothy- she is so passionate about what she does, it's infectious.

"Giving your time to a cause that's making a difference is much better than working for free for a company where there's no ethical reward.

"And the fact it's a small charity means that we really are making a difference," says one.

"Dorothy is really interested in helping your development; so if there's a particular area you're interested in getting experience in, she will go out of her way to make sure that happens. She makes it so that you see the impact of what you're doing. It sounds cliche but you really are making a difference here."

But the demand is constant. Every day, more and more children come to the charity's attention.

Perhaps that is partly because it is one of few organisations that does not go through the government; so 92p of every £1 goes direct to grassroots projects.

None of the charity's workers, including CEO Dorothy, earn a wage. And almost everything it has- it's office on Gillette Way, the utilities that keep the office going- is generously donated.

Another reason is one very close to Dorothy's heart– her mum.

Her mum still lives in Zimbabwe and acts as the volunteer head of the charity on the ground.

"Sometimes, these children just turn up at my mother's house," says Dorothy.

"She's has mothers taking their babies to her, because they can't cope. So then they appeal to us for nappies and baby items."

Children usually come to the charity's attention through referrals from clinics or orphanages or schools. Then the volunteers on the ground do a home visit and learn everything they can about the child's background.

Dorothy shows me some of these; many of the children have been orphaned and will typically be living with their grandmother.

Grandmothers often have around nine children to look after, all living in one mud hut.

The eldest child– often around seven years-old– will take on responsibilities, such as cooking. In some cases they are the breadwinner and go out to work to put food on the table.

It sounds strange that an eight-year-old would say their favourite meal is rice and beans. But for many of the children helped by CBF, that's their Christmas dinner.

Just £1 provides one-month's worth of food for a child supported by the charity.

Dorothy has big plans for the future- a vocational school hub, for example, where children who are not academic can learn trades such as mechanics and plumbing.

But one step at a time...CBF's next big goal is to raise enough funds for a shipping crate.

Thanks to businesses across Berkshire, the charity has lots of supplies for the Zimbabwean schools- stationery, chairs and tables.

Unfortunately, all this much-needed equipment isn't where it needs to be.

If you are a business that would like to donate, or can help in any way, email dorothy@creatingbetterfutures.org.uk

The Creating Better Futures Out of Africa Ball takes place at Reading Hilton on November 25. For tickets, visit creatingbetterfutures.org.uk/get-involved/events