Aquinoe Learning Centre

The News

Aquinoe Pupils Return

A return to school at Aquinoe by pupils and staff has been made possible through the purchase of masks, sanitiser and washing with money transferred by the charity.

The school has been inspected and allowed to open.

‘Social distancing’ is somewhat suspect, but hopefully pupils and staff will get used to following regulations and all will be well.

 

 

Brilliant Boys

Jack and Alex are cousins of May, Amelie and Harry – see https://www.aquinoe.org/2020/12/3747/

Their Aunt, Alexa, spent some time volunteering at Aquinoe two years ago and wanted to give her nieces and nephews special presents at Christmas.  She had the inspired idea of giving them money to be spent on items of their choice for Aquinoe.

Alex wrote, “I have thought hard about my decision with regard to where the money can be spent on the children and their school. I would like my portion of the money to go to computers so if they are struggling on a question they can use the chrome books \ computers and also they can have some fun with it if they are having  break-time.

“I had a good look at the website and maybe I can come and visit at some point and have a look at the wonderful work you’ve done.”

Jack said, “I have had a really good look at the Aquinoe website. I would like to spend my £25 for the kids of Kenya for play equipment so they can learn and play together and find out skills that they have yet to find out about themselves. I have chosen this because if you never have the chance to play and create then you won’t ever find out what you would like to do in life”.

Fantastic Family

May, Harry and Amelie are part of a family that has been instrumental in raising money for the pupils at Aquinoe several times in the past few years, both individually and as members of Colston Bassett School in Nottinghamshire.

Their Aunt, Alexa, spent some time volunteering at Aquinoe two years ago and wanted to give her nieces and nephews special presents at Christmas.  She had the inspired idea of giving them money to be spent on items of their choice for Aquinoe.

May said, “This year I am studying for my GCSEs and I feel fortunate that I have the resources to help me achieve the grades I want. I understand the importance of education and therefore I would love to help others learn.”

Amelie wrote, “I’ve done some research on the website and I would like my portion of the money to go towards some play equipment for young children …. as they enjoy it, but there is not enough.”

Meanwhile Harry texted, “I looked through the website and I decided that I would like to give my money to some equipment for the physiotherapy department. I thought this is very important because I want to help the children feel better.”

Former Aquinoe Pupil Graduates

 

 

Cynthia Hellen Otagi

Many congratulations to Cynthia, former Aquinoe pupil, who graduated from South Eastern Kenya University on 29th December 2020 with a bachelor of Science degree in Public Health.

Cynthia’s mother Lilyan, who is also Chair of the Board at Aquinoe, would have loved to be at the ceremony in person,  but COVID19 meant that was impossible.  Cynthia’s parents will be proudly watching on Kenyan television instead.

Another Wonderful Donation

£500!  That’s the figure on the cheque which dropped through the letterbox this week.

Completely out of the blue, the PCC at St Giles Church in Shipbourne has sent us another donation for the Aquinoe Learning Centre.

The money will be added to the tranche being sent to the school in the next few days and will be spent on staff salaries and food for the children that have returned in the last couple of weeks.

The trustees and all at the school send their grateful thanks.

St Giles Church

Looking Forward to Next Time

Aquinoe Learning Centre

Pupils Return

A limited number of pupils have returned to lessons at Aquinoe.

The government ordered pupils in Grades Four and Eight back to school, albeit with strict safety measures in place to combat the spread of Covid 19.

  

 

 

Update on Table Sale

The trustees heard today that another £100 has been transferred to the Aquinoe Centre, adding to the £350 (plus £50) already given to the charity from HB’s Table Sale.

The total of £500 is a wonderful total in these days when many charities are suffering from reduced income.

The trustees are immensely grateful.

My fundraiser for Aquinoe Learning Centre Charitable Trust

Helen Benton writes:

As a long time friend of Jean, chair of Aquinoe Learning Centre Charitable Trust, I have for some years supported her fundraising efforts for the trust in various ways. With the emergence of the Covid pandemic and its effects on the staff and pupils at Aquinoe I tried to think of a way I could help further and that would be acceptable during the current situation.

As the road past my house carries a considerable amount of through traffic, I conceived the idea of a ‘table top sale’ on my drive which I hoped would attract the attention of passers by. Over the last couple of months I have been able to collect items to sell from neighbours and friends, many of whom have spent the lockdown turning out their lofts, sheds and garages. Additionally my garden has grown in abundance giving me a surfeit of many plants and in my spare time I have amused myself knitting toys and other items, all of which I hoped to sell at my sale.

Originally I planned to hold the sale in September when the weather was warmer and, in the early part, more settled, but unfortunately I was unable to find a convenient date. Then my planned date in October was a washout, but yesterday it finally happened. It was cold and we did have a little light rain, but not enough to deter us, and my husband had managed to erect a large gazebo over the width of the drive so all stayed dry underneath. We had a reasonably steady stream of visitors to the stall and were delighted with our final total of £360 raised for Aquinoe.

11 October 2020

 

   

 

Stroll-athon Update

Amazingly, Dave’s Stroll-athon has now raised over £3,000!

Many, many thanks, not only to Dave for creating and completing the event, but also to all those who contributed.

It is a wonderful feeling to know that I have such generous and committed people as friends and family members.

All at the school will be immensely grateful.

“Stroll-athon” raises over £2,300 for Aquinoe

Jean’s husband Dave Thompson successfully completed his special “stroll-athon” on Monday helped by Aquinoe chair Jean, long-time supporters Min and Tim Chicken, son Chris Thompson and near-neighbour Liz Baker, who turned 80 last month.

All walked part of the journey with Dave who had set off at 08:00 to stroll 11 times round Tonbridge Recreation Ground for a total of 21.1 km — the half-marathon distance.

Fantastic sponsorship from so many Aquinoe supporters has raised over £2,300 to help pay teachers at the school which is closed until January because of Covid-19.

On a perfect summer’s morning Dave was joined first by Jean, then Min who had travelled 50 miles by car with Tim from their home near Folkestone after also securing valuable sponsorship, then Chris, who caught a train from London to surprise his dad, and finally Liz, fresh from an osteopath appointment !

Dave, 75, said: “It took under five hours and I’ve been doubly overwhelmed – first by everyone who sponsored the stroll and secondly by all who joined me on Monday morning for our very own walk in the park.”

Dave has run various half-marathons in the past but gave up running last year. When he heard of the teachers’ plight he came up with the idea of strolling a half-marathon, rather than running it.

“It was such great fun this morning we’re already thinking of making it an annual event,” he says.

Jean says: “Aquinoe is so lucky to have the best supporters in the world.  Thank you so much to all who participated and contributed.”

Min says: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. We stepped out today and bridged the thousands of miles between Tonbridge and Aquinoe Learning Centre.”

Liz says: “I think Stroll-athons are great fun and I am still feeling a sense of achievement.  Anyone can participate, so stroll-athons are inclusive, which is really appropriate for Aquinoe.”

Chris says: “With all the chaos here in the UK it’s easy to forget that there are other people all over the world who need support right now. Congratulations to Dad for making us all proud and for making so much money for Aquinoe.”

No salary is being paid to teachers in schools such as Aquinoe and the charity has already stepped in twice to secure wages until the end of July as well as helping families of those children who would normally be sponsored during term time.

 

 

Dave Set For Fund-Raising “Stroll-athon”

Jean’s husband Dave is hoping to raise funds for Aquinoe by attempting his very own brainchild — a stroll-athon.”

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He plans later this month to walk round the Tonbridge Recreation ground about 10 times in all for a total of 21.1 km — the half-marathon distance.

Dave, now 75, says: “I’ve run various half-marathons in the past but my running days are over and in any case under the current lockdown there aren’t any events like that in which to take part.

“When I heard Aquinoe had to stay closed until January because of the pandemic, placing even more strain on the children, their parents and teachers, I tried to think of possible ways to help and came up with this one — at about three o’ clock in the morning.”

Dave will likely be accompanied by Jean for at least part of the way and plans to set off at 0800 on 20th July. He says: “It should take four to five hours and now I’ve finally had my hair cut I reckon I’ll be streamlined for the big day.”

No salary is being paid to teachers in schools such as Aquinoe and the charity has already stepped in twice to secure wages until the end of July as well as helping families of those children who would normally be sponsored during term time.

Aquinoe Closed Until January

Aquinoe and all schools in Kenya are to remain closed until January because of the coronavirus pandemic, the education minister George Magoha confirmed this week.

The move is a massive blow to children, staff and families who have all been struggling to cope since the initial shutdown on 22nd March.

Aquinoe director, Josphat Shaduma said: “Lilian [Chair of Governors] and I are very worried about the situation.  We are monitoring it with concern.”

Josphat in happier times

The charity trustees stepped in twice earlier this year to pay teachers’ salaries for a total of four months to the end of July and also help the families of the children who would normally be sponsored during term time.

Josphat says: “May I continue to thank the trustees and all Aquinoe supporters for thinking about the children and our staff.  All of you will be in their minds and spirits for a long time.

“No salary is paid to teachers in schools like ours in this country during this pandemic.”

Aquinoe has 22 staff, teaching and non-teaching, while pupil numbers vary between 100 and 170.

Charity chair, Jean said: “We are monitoring the situation closely and will need to consider the way ahead.”

Latest figures (8th July) show Kenya to have 8,525 coronavirus cases after a recent surge and 169 deaths.

Earlier this week the government lifted restrictions on travel in and out of Nairobi. Domestic flights will re-start on 15th July with international travel resuming from 1st August.

Colleges and universities are set to re-open in September but only if they meet strict requirements.

The country’s President Uhuru Kenyatta had urged Kenyans to continue to take precautions, describing the path to recovery as “rocky and uneven,” but “navigable.”

A nationwide nightly curfew has been extended for 30 days and Kenyatta has warned the country could be locked down again if things get worse.

Kenya’s economy, badly hit by the pandemic, had already been undermined by the worst attacks in the country for 70 years of huge swarms of locusts, which continue to strike a large part of East Africa destroying crops and livelihoods.

 

Charity Steps in to Help Aquinoe Teachers

The charity has stepped in to pay all teachers’ salaries for April and May as Aquinoe, in common with all schools in Kenya, remains closed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Trustees met courtesy of Zoom last week and agreed to transfer 263,500 Kenyan Shillings (£2,055) from charity reserves to the Kenyan charity account.
Aquinoe director Josphat Shaduma wrote: “Some of the staff had been calling in at the school to find out if I could do anything for them but now there will be a smile on their faces.
“We are very grateful for the assistance and we have no words to express our thanks to all of you. Please inform other trustees and supporters how grateful we are and particularly at this time when everybody is indoors with no income.”
Kenya has no system for helping people who are not working and therefore not being paid.
The school currently has twenty-two staff (teaching and non-teaching), with all but three confined to home.
When chair Jean emailed the charity’s supporters telling of the decision last week to help the school staff many came up within days with donations currently totalling over £900, even though the email had not been meant as a further appeal.
Jean says: “It brought tears to my eyes. Even though I know from experience how generous our supporters are, I was overcome with emotion.
Coronavirus is still with us and we continue to review the situation.”
Aquinoe has been closed since 22nd March when all services and educational establishments were shut down.  A strict curfew during lockdown has been extended until 6th June leading to recent violence in Kitale where bodaboda motorcyclists, who transport passengers, clashed with police leaving two dead. Tension remains.
As of 18th May there had been 963 confirmed coronavirus cases in Kenya with 50 deaths.

At the school gates in happier times.

County Athletics Competition

Pupils at Aquinoe participate at the County Athletics competition in their smart sports kit.

                                              

          

     

    

Valentine

The new tailor, Valentine continues to work hard with pupils, both male and female, who wish to learn sewing skills.

  

Music To Their Ears

Musical instruments, funded by Crieff Baptist Church, are being used in Sunday church services, and also in classrooms.

The pupils love music, singing and dancing and really enjoy being involved in making music.

    

  

It is unusual for girls to play the guitar in Kenya, so this is a new instrument for them.

Here the girls are learning how to play and accompanying singers at the same time.

Sports Hoodies Arrive

The 130 sports hoodies kindly donated by Barsleys department store of Paddock Wood and shipped free to Kenya courtesy of delivery company Interparcel have arrived at Aquinoe to the delight of pupils and staff alike.

The garments are brand new but there was a problem with the name label so rather than let them go to waste Richard Barsley, head of the store, offered them to Aquinoe.

Trustee Jean says: “It was a fantastic offer, and the charity was very excited about it.

“We know from past experience just how much pleasure the pupils get from previous sportswear we’ve been able to send over the years.

“I’m sure they’ll all be just as thrilled and it certainly looks like it from the pictures Josphat, Aquinoe Director, has sent us.”

Josphat says: “The school is into excitement.

“Please send our deepest-felt thanks to the people who donated them. We feel very much lucky to have friends like this.”

The hoodies were transported in six boxes which would normally have cost hundreds of pounds but Crawley-based Interparcel stepped in to ship them free of charge.

Interparcel is a major partner of the world’s best parcel delivery firms and as such delivers to over 200 countries worldwide.

Barsleys, founded in 1891 by Charles Barsley, is a noted family firm and going as strong as ever as the 130th anniversary approaches in 2021.

  All pupils in new blue jerseys

 Pupils with special needs and house mother

  Class Eight

  Class Seven

  Class Six

  Class Five

  Class Four

  Class Three

  Class Two

  Class One

  Pre-Unit

  Baby Class

 

 

Tailoring at Aquinoe

The sewing machines at Aquinoe were serviced prior to the beginning of term.

 

The school is benefitting from a locally trained tailor, who is working at the school on a trial basis.

Several of the South Sudanese pupils are very keen to learn a vocational skill.

 

Equipment for physiotherapy department

Pupils with disabilities at the Aquinoe Learning Centre now have the benefit of some wonderful new equipment in the physiotherapy department.

The money was generously donated by the Thrift Shop at Monymusk in March 2019, but most of the items were not available for purchase locally in Kitale, so had to be ordered from Nairobi.

Lucky pupils!

 

   

 

  

Scores of Sports Hoodies Aquinoe-Bound

Around 130 sports hoodies kindly donated by Barsleys department store of Paddock Wood and to be shipped free to Kenya courtesy of delivery company Interparcel are all set for pupils at Aquinoe.

The garments are brand new but the school name on the back proved the wrong size for the original recipients so rather than let them go to waste Richard Barsley, head of the store, offered them to Aquinoe.

Trustee Jean says: “Barsleys have supported us for many years, not least with donating raffle prizes at our annual quiz and this is just another example of their kind backing. We are really grateful.

“We know from past experience just how much pleasure the pupils get from previous sportswear we’ve been able to send across over the years. I’m sure they’ll all be so thrilled.”

The hoodies will be transported in six boxes which would normally cost hundreds of pounds but Crawley-based Interparcel stepped in to ship them free of charge.

Head of pricing Jo Lomax says: “This is a very worthwhile cause so we are delighted to lend our support in getting these supplies to the children.”

Interparcel is a major partner of the world’s best parcel delivery firms and as such delivers to over 200 countries worldwide.

Barsleys, founded in 1891 by Charles Barsley, is a noted family firm and going as strong as ever as the 130th anniversary approaches in 2021.