Aquinoe Learning Centre

The News

Charity Tips Quarter of a Million Mark

The latest transfer to Aquinoe of  £4,165 brings the total over the 17 years since the charity was founded to over a quarter of a million pounds.

Supporter Dave Thompson, husband of founder Jean, says: “It’s a fantastic sum and all the more remarkable that it’s all been done by a small team of volunteers working from their own homes and relying solely on friends, family and contacts.”

In addition to Jean, other trustees are Tina, Lynne and Clive.  Over the years, we have had masses of support and assistance from family members and friends – we are all extremely grateful.

Jean visited the school in 2004 as a volunteer and returned to the U.K. with the aim of starting a charity to give support to the school and its Director, Josphat.  Things blossomed so that the school is now unrecognisable from what eighteen years ago.

 

Apart from buildings for teaching, physiotherapy, special needs and a canteen, all of the dormitories have been upgraded.

The charity has also provided furniture, toilets and showers, books, mosquito nets, sports and physiotherapy equipment and many other items.

Most recently, the solar power system has been upgraded.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are currently hoping to improve the water supply, including rainwater harvesting.

The latest transfer includes £965 for the salaries of five specialist staff and £875 for various  items, including mosquito nets and curriculum books.

Jean say: “We could have done nothing without the magnificent sup[port we’ve had over the years.”

Pupils Sit For Exams

In the last few weeks, pupils at Aquinoe, along with Class Eight pupils across Kenya, took their national exams – the KCPE (Kenya Certificate of Primary Education).  The pupils would normally have sat the examinations at the end of the school year, i.e. in November 2021, but due to disruption caused by the pandemic, the exams were delayed by a few months.

Parents came to Aquinoe to wish their sons and daughters well.

Josphat (School Director) said: “Parents lauded the school for including those with special needs.

“The government has promised to make sure all of them join high school.

“Among them are some children the charity has sponsored for years.”

Transfer 66

The charity has sent £4,165.02 (630,750 Kenyan Shillings) to the school in the latest transfer.

This includes:

KES353,250 for 48 pupils who are sponsored by some of our supporters;

KES145,600 for the salaries of 5 specialist staff;

KES131,900 for other items, including mosquito nets and curriculum books.

 

Another Donation From St Giles Shipbourne

The PCC (Parochial Church Council) of St Giles Church in Shipbourne had already donated money to the Aquinoe Learning Centre earlier this year, which the trustees put towards the cost of replacement solar batteries and new panels.

The trustees were therefore amazed to see another cheque for £500 coming through the letter box.  We are, of course, extremely grateful for this further donation and have decided to put it towards new lighting for the school – please see relevant post here

 Lights Up At Aquinoe

Hard on the heels of new solar panels, Aquinoe has now installed much improved lighting with LED fixtures round the whole school.

In all, 46 new inside lights and 17 for security are now in action with the whole supply and fitting operation costing just under £700.

Contractor Joseph Mwita says: “We recommended the use of complete LED lighting fixtures which last for many years and are cheaper in the long run. 

“In addition, there will be no issues of changing bulbs which in any case can attract thieves.”

Installation began in early December and at the same time Joseph started fabrication of a special ladder for cleaning the solar panels, some of which have been in use since 2016.

Chair Jean says: “The school environment has been improved significantly this year, despite the continuing Covid Pandemic, and I’m delighted we have been able to help staff and pupils with far better lighting for studying and greatly improved security in the compound.

Josphat (Aquinoe Director) says: “The school is brightly lit and shining in the community.”

He also comments again on the solar upgrade: “The solar power is more powerful than before.  It can go without electricity connection [to the grid] for a week.

“We are deeply grateful to all of you who made the project a success.”

New Solar Panels for Aquinoe

In an exciting move, three new solar panels have been installed at Aquinoe Learning Centre and maintenance work on the old panels completed at the same time.

The school had its first solar equipment installed in January 2016 at the suggestion of Aquinoe supporter Phil Humphreys who researched and saw the project through after volunteering there.


 

 

 

 

2016 solar installation 

Contractor Joseph Mwita, who has carried out all the solar work, says: “Replacement of old batteries, installation of additional panels and maintenance on the old panels is complete …. and the system is now working well.”

Solar panels are a huge bonus, guaranteeing economic energy supply in a region where power cuts and failures are not uncommon.

Charity chair Jean Thompson says: “This latest work cost about £2,000 but it’s well worth it. A recent donation of £500 from St Giles Church in Shipbourne in Kent has been a huge help. We’re most grateful.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2021 solar installation 

Trustees and officials at the school have long been keen on the solar project because of the high cost of electricity and the unreliability of local supply.

Phil H, who now lives in Berlin, says:

“The ALC has been a true beacon school with its lights continuing to shine while the buildings around it are plunged into darkness during the outages.

“These additional panels should now further reduce the school’s draw on the grid, saving valuable funds for where they are needed most.”

In common with schools around the world Aquinoe has been struggling through the Covid crisis but is gradually getting back on track.

Patrick Raises £1,250 For Aquinoe – Marathon Next?

Patrick’s great March-a-thon challenge has raised a grand total of £1,250 – and now he’s eyeing a marathon.

In March, Patrick, 42, ran four half-marathons round Reading, setting a series of personal bests and ending with a time of one hour 46 minutes 52 seconds which beat by 49 seconds the mark set a week earlier.

He says: “I would just like to say a massive thank you to everyone who supported me and donated to the cause. It is such a fantastic charity doing a wonderful job.

“I’m pleased to be able to help in any way and if it involves doing something I enjoy, then great.

“It was a tough challenge but I love running even more after completing the half-marathons – and now my aim to is to do my first ever marathon.”

Aquinoe chair Jean says: “Wow!  The feat is amazing, Patrick is amazing! He has trained every weekend for ages and has done a wonderful job.

“For a small charity like Aquinoe, this injection of money is a real ‘shot in the arm’.

“I’m so proud of him and what he has done.”

Patrick is eyeing the London Marathon although it can be difficult to get into and he says: “I’m sensing a more likely option may be something less famous around the south east of England.”

Jean states: “Whatever you choose we’ll be honoured that you apply.”

Patrick’s wife Helena says: “I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again. I think he’s mad but I’m super proud of him!”

Speedy Patrick Rounds Off March-a-thon With Another Personal Best

Patrick (Jean’s son) wound up his amazing March-a-thon challenge in style with yet another personal best, running his fourth half-marathon of the month round the streets of Reading in one hour 46 minutes 52 seconds.

That eclipsed the 1:47:41 set a week ago by 49 seconds and is over 12 minutes quicker than the original target mooted when Patrick first had the idea of a fresh fund-raiser for Aquinoe.

He has been running a half-marathon every weekend in March to raise money for the charity and the final figure is poised to exceed £1,000.

Patrick, 42, says: “I surprised myself with the times. I originally thought just completing four half marathons would be enough of a challenge. Then as training went well, I set myself the target of doing them in under 2 hours. I am delighted with times but suffering slightly now the morning after completing the fourth run.

“However, it is well worth it to try to help support Aquinoe, raise awareness of the invaluable work they do, which is so important for children in Kitale, and also raise some much-needed funds. A huge thank you to everyone who has supported me and the charity.”

Patrick got the March-a-thon idea from stepdad Dave’s fundraiser (the Stroll-a-thon) in 2020 when he walked/strolled round the local Recreation ground in Tonbridge for the half-marathon distance of 13.1 miles.

Jean says: “What a son, what a runner, what a hero! Patrick has put in a huge amount of time into training over the last few months and has finished March triumphant.

“What a boost for the charity and the school. Wonderful.”

Patrick’s wife Helena says: “I think he’s mad but super proud of him!”

After the run, Patrick and Helena joined the regular Saturday family Zoom where there were congratulations all round from Jean, Dave, Patrick’s sister Rachel, husband Ed and step-siblings Chris, Marie and husband Craig.

Dave says: “I’m so proud of everyone in the family. Well done all.”

 

 

Patrick Hits The Heights Again

 

Patrick ran his third half marathon in March as his wonderful fundraiser for the Aquinoe Learning Centre and yet again achieved a personal best time!

One hour, forty seven minutes and forty one seconds, beating the new PB he set last week by over a minute.

His total of over £850 is a brilliant reflection of his dedication and enthusiasm.

 

 

Patrick Defies Elements For Personal Best in Aquinoe Fund-Raiser

Patrick (Jean’s son) produced a personal best in his second half-marathon in seven days on Saturday, defying chilly winds gusting up to 40 mph to come home in one hour 48 minutes 56 seconds.

That eclipsed the time he ran seven days earlier by nearly three minutes and was 28 seconds quicker than his previous personal best mark.

It was also over 10 minutes quicker than his original target a few weeks ago of 1:59:00.

In a personal “March-a-thon,” Patrick is running a half-marathons every weekend in March through the streets of his home town of Reading to raise money for Aquinoe.

He has already easily surpassed the initial £500 target, with £761 the latest figure, and two more half-marathons are planned before the end of the month.

Patrick, 42, says: “I’m delighted with the run and getting a personal best in the wind today was a very pleasant surprise. I was spurred on knowing stepdad Dave was doing his bit at the same time.”

Patrick got the March-a-thon idea from Dave’s fundraiser (the Stroll-a-thon) in 2020 when Dave walked/strolled round the local Recreation ground in Tonbridge for the half-marathon distance of 13.1 miles.

On Saturday, Dave and Aquinoe chair Jean were at Tonbridge Rec again to “synch” with Patrick at the same time he left home around 0840.

Patrick adds: “A big thank you to my family and friends who have supported me and of course to everyone who has very kindly sponsored me. The amount raised is incredible and inspiring me to push on. Two down, two to go.”

Jean says: “Four half marathons in a month is demanding enough, but to achieve a Personal Best in yesterday’s challenging conditions is amazing.

“Patrick’s idea is a wonderful fundraiser for Aquinoe and the trustees are extremely grateful.”

Patrick’s target some weeks back of around 1:59:00 was a tribute to Kenya’s world record holder Eliud Kipchoge, 36, who set the fastest time for the marathon (26.2 miles) in a special event in Vienna in 2019 when he won in 1:59:40.

That made him the first and only man so far to beat the two-hour barrier.

Meanwhile, on a more modest note back in Tonbridge Dave, 75, walked for two hours, covering 4.6 miles before heading back.

In Reading, Patrick’s wife Helena battled it out superbly for an hour on the treadmill at home, observing: “I’m a fair-weather walker.”

Patrick’s sister Rachel, 50 miles away, was also impressively active, running and walking nearly nine miles in total on the morning, though admitting: “There was a long breakfast and shower-break in the middle!”

Further moral support came from step-sister Marie in Dubai and her brother Chris in London with all the family congratulating Patrick later in the day in the regular fortnightly Zoom catch-up.

Dave says: “I’m so proud of everyone in the family. Well done all!”

Last Training Session for Patrick

Patrick has been training hard for his amazing fundraiser – his March-a-thon – see here

His last training run was today (Saturday) and he says:

“Final training run complete for the Marchathon. I’m doing my own 1:59 challenge that Eluid Kipchoge did and will try to do all 4 half marathons in under 2 hours.”

Go Patrick, Go!

 

Patrick’s Fundraiser

Following Dave’s fundraiser (the Stroll-athon) in 2020, Patrick (Jean’s son) intends to do his own fundraiser in March. He has been training for months, and is aiming to run a half marathon every weekend in March – see here for full details.

Despite a bad back a few weeks ago, and a rest from training, he completed a serious run today.  His comment: “That’s the furthest I’ve ever ran and I’m knackered but ready for the March-a-thon!” How can he look so relaxed after 16 miles?

 

Sisters

I (Jean, Chair of the Aquinoe charity) am lucky enough to be one of three sisters.   We all get on extremely well and care for each other very much.

One of my sisters is fellow trustee of the charity, the other is a long-standing supporter who sponsors children at the school and fundraises too.

She knows that I like to send out thank you cards with a Kenyan flavour to donors and has now used her skills with photos to produce some lovely cards for the charity.

Thank you so much, Ann.

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.