Aquinoe Learning Centre

The News

Barsley’s Donates Clothing

Jean met Richard Barsley this morning (October 17th 2019) to talk about the donation of some sports “hoodies”.

The garments are perfect, except that the embroidery on the back is the wrong size.

Richard wishes the “hoodies” to go to a good home, where they will be appreciated, so has donated them to the Aquinoe Learning Centre. The trustees are now looking for a carrier that will deliver them to Aquinoe.

Many many thanks to Barsleys, the independent department store in Paddock Wood.

Annual Quiz Tops £10,000 Mark

The annual quiz at Capel Village Hall on October 12th raised just over £700 for the charity, bringing the total over the years from this one event to more than £10,000.
“People in Capel have always been most supportive and it’s a fantastic figure so sincere thanks to them all, ” says Dave, husband of Jean who set up the charity in 2004.
There was a thrilling finish on the night in the packed hall with “Corridor of Uncertainty” pipping Foghorns by just two points, with Hastgate another point away, third of the eleven teams.
Among the winning side were chairman of the Parish Council, Hugh Patterson and his wife Sandra.
Jean who set all the questions  says, “I’ve been collecting quotes throughout the last year, and began setting questions in May, so there’s a lot of hard work involved, but I get a real buzz from the world of quizzes.  The support we receive each year and the amount of money raised makes it extremely worthwhile.”
Her sister Tina, a fellow trustee who once more travelled all the way from Perthshire (almost five hundred miles away) with husband Charlie to help organise and score says, “It’s always a pleasure to be involved in the quiz, and catching up with some supporters I don’t see very often.  Jean does the lion’s share of the work, but it’s good to help in a small way.”
The following day saw the AGM with fellow trustees Lynne and Clive in attendance helping plan for 2020 and beyond.
The quiz topped an exciting few weeks for the charity following Jean’s international award in New York in September for her humanitarian work in aid of Aquinoe.

Inspection Ratings High

An Education Officer arrived to inspect the Aquinoe Learning Centre on Monday 7th October.

The “new” curriculum was discussed and she was impressed with the work of the teachers and the support given to the children with special needs.

Apparently some local schools have been closed recently because of poor infrastructure, but developments at Aquinoe have been recognised, especially the the existence of the Resource Centre and the work going on inside.

Damacline, the physiotherapist was able to show the Education Officer around and show how she gives individualised treatment to the children with special needs.

It seems the Education officer asked Josphat to thank the charity on behalf of the County Education Office for supporting Aquinoe, and promised to find out from the county government how financial support can be given to the school.


Unsung Hero Jean Wins Top Charity Award in New York

Jean’s 15 years devotion to Aquinoe was recognised on Saturday with a top international honour in New York.

Jean, 71, won the humanitarian section of the annual Mwape Peer Awards which are now in their 10th year.

They were founded by New Jersey-based Zambians James and Ruth Mwape to pay tribute to unsung heroes from around the world who have made a difference in Africa through their energy, tenacity and creativity.

Since founding the Aquinoe charity in 2004 well over £150,000 has been raised by Jean with the unflagging aid of fellow trustees (Tina, Lynne and Clive), family, friends and supporters.

Jean, who spent some of her early teaching career in Zambia, has visited Aquinoe many times, often with her sister Tina.

In addition, over the years various friends and family have visited The school to lend a hand as volunteers.

Jean and husband Dave flew to New York for Saturday’s gala event held in a banqueting hall on City Island.

Dave, 74, says: “It was a fantastic evening and we are all so proud of Jean for all she has done over the years.”

Son Chris, 39, who was also there, said “It was a wonderful reminder what an extraordinary woman Jean is and how blessed I feel to have her in my life.”

About 180 people were at  the event, including the co-founders James and Ruth Mwape, Mayor of Yonkers Mike Spano, and a leading figure in international law and economics Professor Kenneth Mwenda.

Other categories apart from the humanitarian sectio(n for which Jean was recognised included education, nursing and professional leadership.

Jean and Dave have kindly been hosted in New York with Mbums, a former pupil of Kaoma Secondary school in Zambia, where Jean taught in the 1970s.

Amazing £689 Raised

Jean and Dave visited Millfield Nursery School in Cropwell Butler, Nottinghamshire, in July to let the pupils know a little more about life at Aquinoe.

Liz has now let us know that an amazing total of £689 was raised by pupils, families and staff at the the nursery school.  How wonderful is that?

Thank you so much.

Aquinoe Teachers’ Training Session

Aquinoe teachers benefitted from a training course to help them with delivery of the new curriculum in early August.

Lilyan, Chair of Governors, and a senior teacher at a government school, took the staff through their paces and passed on valuable advice.

The Aquinoe Learning Centre is the only private school in the area that has had the advantage of a course led by a trained professional.

Comment from Lilyan: “What a beautiful day. An encouraging CBC workshop on new curriculum.”

Comment from one of the young members of staff: “The CBC training was awesome and we have enjoyed.”


Class Eight Trip

Class Eight pupils were taken on a trip to a really special nature park near Eldoret, forty four miles (seventy two kilometres) south of Kitale.  This was to celebrate their time at the Aquinoe Learning Centre, although they will not leave the school until after they take the national examinations next term.

The pupils enjoyed seeing a variety of animals and also the swimming pool.



Visit for Pre-Schoolers

The Pre-School pupils from Aquinoe were taken to the Kitale Nature Conservancy as an end-of-term treat.

In addition to the park’s environmental message through the animals and birds, there is also a playground and Christian section.


Visit to Millfield

Millfield Nursery is located in Cropwell Butler, Nottinghamshire.

It is a ‘younger sister’ to Colston Bassett School in the same area, which Jean and Dave have visited on several occasions to talk to the primary age children about the Aquinoe Learning Centre in Kenya.  Pupils, staff and parents at Colston Bassett have raised significant sums of money for Aquinoe.

Millfield is celebrating its thirtieth anniversary.

Liz and John, who run the school, decided to have an “Africa Week” with the children, and to do some fundraising.  Aquinoe is lucky enough to be a beneficiary.

Jean talked to ten four-year olds who will be moving on to primary school in September.

She showed them photos of the school and the pupils in 2004, contrasting them with the current situation.

The boys and girls were able to see what a difference the charity has made at Aquinoe, for instance, the old and new buildings.

The session finished with the pupils playing Kenyan musical instruments while singing nursery rhymes!



Please see Millfield’s Facebook page for further details of their Africa week and Jean’s visit:

Mercy Graduates

Mercy Kiteki is is now in her third year of teaching at the Aquinoe Learning Centre.

She was teacher of Class One until this year, but is now teacher of Baby Class.

She is such an inspiring and dedicated teacher, that any of her pupils can count themselves as being lucky.

While teaching, she continued her studies and today (28th June 2019) was graduation day.

Congratulations, Mercy – it looks as though it was a wonderful celebration.


Nomination for Jean!

Jean is delighted to announce that she has received a nomination for a humanitarian award at the Mwape Peer Awards for her charity work supporting the Aquinoe Learning Centre in Kitale, Kenya for the past fifteen years.

Jean has accepted an invitation to attend the ceremony, which will take place at the Empire Casino in New York in September 2019.  She is greatly looking forward to the experience and hopes to spread the Aquinoe message even more widely.

Second Term 2019

Staff and pupils started arriving at Aquinoe last week and preparing for the beginning of term today.

Lilian sorting out the library ready for borrowing and class lessons.

Rachel greeting parents and sorting out the inevitable administration at the beginning of term.

Deputy head, Joshua issues books and stationery to teachers and pupils.

Pupils help the cook to dry out corn before putting it into store.

Class Two teacher preparing to clean classroom ready for teaching.

Teaching and non-teaching staff after meeting.

Sarah Fuamba

The trustees received the shocking news of the death of Sarah Fuamba over the weekend.

Sarah had been at the Aquinoe Learning Centre for seventeen years and was dedicated to teaching and caring for all of the children with special needs at the school, whatever their difficulties.

Jean first met Sarah fifteen years ago and counted her as a friend.

She has always been compassionate, calm and considerate, and many children have benefited from these attributes. Recently she took on further training, and was awarded a diploma in special education.

The charity trustees send their condolences to Sarah’s family, at this distressing time.

Song and Dance

Jean met Baljit, who will be taking up a placement at Aquinoe in 2020, in London.

Baljit is in the process of doing a PhD at the University of Sussex and has exciting plans for for Aquinoe.

She will be going to the school for three months.

Part of her plan states the following:

“The structure of this project would involve 3 groups of children aged between 8-13 years old. The groups of children will make a joint decision as to whether they would like to:


  • Construct a song using various materials/resources and instruments available to them
  • Perform a dance to the music that group 1 have created
  • Write lyrics to the music that group 1 have created.


The overarching aim would be to put on a final set of performances in the final month of the placement to the school and/or the community depending on the capacity of the audience and the venue required to cater for this.”


What an exciting prospect!

Crieff Baptist Church donation

Crieff Baptist Church

Crieff Baptist Churchcc-by-sa/2.0 – © Bill Boaden –

The Aquinoe Learning Centre Charitable Trust has received a donation from Crieff Baptist Church which will be used to purchase musical instruments.  These will not only be used in the school itself, but also for Christian services which are held in the school on Sundays.

Thank you so much to the congregation and elders of the church.

Magnificent Masks and Excellent Eggs

The pupils of Colston Bassett Preparatory School have been enjoying Africa Week.

This has included two competitions, the pupils creating African masks and painting eggs.  The results were on show in the playground and Jean and Dave were really impressed at the creative talents on display.

Jean had the unenviable task of choosing winners in both categories, a really difficult job as there were so many worthy entries, before J and F were presented with their Easter eggs prizes.

The pupils, staff and parents at Colston Bassett have generously been donating to the Aquinoe Learning Centre charity for several years and always invite Jean and Dave to the school to speak about developments at the school in Kitale (Kenya) that the charity supports. Jean was able to display slides showing:

  • Improvements in buildings and classrooms over the years
  • What projects the charity has been able to fund over the last year
  • How the most recent Colston Bassett money was spent – providing table tennis equipment and quoits
  • How volunteers visiting the school in the coming year will make a difference

Jean also pointed out that it is not always big projects that are appreciated at Aquinoe.  Sometimes, the charity sends items like therabands or clothes pegs, as these can be used in the physiotherapy department as exercising equipment for some of the children with disabilities.  Pencils and crayons are also useful as there is always a shortage of these in classrooms.

At break time, B presented Jean with bundles of pencils from a huge collection which he had won in a competition.  What a lovely thought!  We will ask the next volunteer going to the Aquinoe to take the pencils with them.

Colston Bassett Africa Week

Colston Bassett School has raised funds for Aquinoe on several occasions in the last few years.

The pupils have organised cake sales, participated in a swimathon, taken part in competitions, and thought of a plethora of other ways of fund-raising.

Jean and Dave are travelling to Colston Bassett again on Wednesday 27th March ready for a session with the pupils on Thursday.

We’re very excited!

Patrick Posts Half-Marathon Personal Best, Raises over £600 for Aquinoe

Jean’s son Patrick battled to a brilliant personal best time of one hour 54 minutes 36 seconds when fund-raising over £600 for the Aquinoe charity in the Reading half marathon on Sunday.
On a breezy, chilly morning, 40-year-old Patrick, who works in Reading for a legal firm**, who have kindly donated £250, shrugged off old injuries and niggles to make it up a stiff uphill finish to the town’s Madejski football stadium.  Once inside he sprinted the final 100 metres to the finishing line.
His time placed him 3,246th in a field of over 12,000, a fantastic result which thrilled his support team — Patrick’s wife Helena, daughter Grace, 13 this coming Thursday, Jean and husband Dave.
They were all there at the seven-mile marker in the town centre and then, courtesy of a shuttle bus service, made it to the stadium just in time to see the big finish.
Patrick says: “It was the toughest run I’ve ever done but well worth it to help Aquinoe in a small way.
“The atmosphere was fantastic and the support inspirational. I may even be tempted to do another half marathon!”
Helena says: “It was great to see Patrick’s face light up when he spotted us spurring him on.
“There was a real buzz amongst the spectators – community spirit at its best.”
Grace says: “It was cool seeing Patty running into the stadium and doing a sprint finish and seeing him at the 7 mile mark and giving him a big high five! I was proud of him.”
Jean says: “It was great to see Patrick enter the stadium and acknowledge his fans in the stands, and what a privilege it was to be part of his cheering support team!  I am delighted he has been able to raise so much money for the Aquinoe Learning Centre.”
Dave says: “Such charity events are always so uplifting in a world where negatives often abound and to see Patrick sprinting up the straight after such an heroic effort was a real joy.”
Patrick’s run received even wider recognition later on Magic Radio who were asking listeners that evening to contact them and say what had made them particularly happy and proud that day.
Helena swiftly texted, sharing Patrick’s feat even wider.
**  Patrick works in the the centre of Reading for Blake Morgan, a leading law firm with six offices in South England and Wales.
The firm offers a match-funding scheme for some charity events involving their employees, up to £250, which has very generously been awarded to Patrick for the Aquinoe Learning Centre.
The trustees are extremely grateful to Blake Morgan.

Another Fantastic Donation

The Aquinoe Learning Centre has been incredibly lucky once again.

St Giles Church in Shipbourne has sent another cheque for £500.

The trustees would like to spend this money on water purification measures, if possible, and maybe some more rainwater harvesting equipment on the buildings which don’t have that facility already.

Many, many thanks to all at St Giles.


Funds for Physiotherapy continued …

A cheque for £500 from the Monymusk Thrift Shop (to fund physiotherapy equipment) arrived today (11th March) – see post 2nd March:

With it, came a super letter: