Aquinoe Learning Centre

The News

Coffee Morning

Jean T (ALC Chair) attended a coffee morning at Alexander Court, Morden College this week.  This is a monthly event, which includes a raffle.

Sandra, a resident of the college, liaised with another Jean (C), who organises the coffee mornings, and invited Jean T to come to the gathering and give a short talk about the work of the charity.

Jean T was made incredibly welcome and several of the residents wanted to hear more about the school and the charity.

Proceeds from the raffle, a wonderful £86, were given to the Aquinoe Learning Centre.  This donation will be spent on equipment for Evans, the physiotherapist at the school.

The trustees are very grateful to all concerned.

Kenya Tickets

Jean has now booked tickets for Kenya, the main purpose of the visit being to take ‘colour tent’ equipment and the system to the Aquinoe Learning Centre to help some of the children with multiple disabilities.  See previous post for details.  We hope there can be real benefits.

Apart from the colour tent information, some brilliant news is Min, Jean’s friend from Zambia days (over forty years ago) will be making the trip with Jean.

The two of them have been making plans over the last couple of weeks and acquiring many items for children and staff at the school.

New equipment for Aquinoe?

Suzanne is a highly experienced teacher of children with severe disabilities in the United Kingdom.  She is also a good friend of Jean’s and has an interest in Aquinoe – the school and the charity.

She has developed a system of ‘Colour Tents’ to help children with severe disability, who may have shown little of no awareness of their environment previously.

See details here

It may seem complicated but, actually, the idea is simple.  Enclose the child in a brightly coloured ‘tent’ and outside distractions – visual and auditory – are cut out and the child can focus on one thing.

If possible, Jean would like to take this system to Aquinoe to be of benefit to some of the children with disabilities.


Aquinoe term begins with light

January is not only the beginning of the calendar year, but also the start of the educational year in Kenya.

One hundred and forty one pupils have registered so far.

It seems that, just two days ago, the power went off for at least three hours in the majority of Kenya and Uganda, although once again, Aquinoe’s solar power meant that it was a shining beacon locally.

High degree of education

Last weekend saw two Aquinoe high-flyers adding to their qualifications.

The Director, Josphat Shaduma, was awarded his PhD in Special Education.  He has been working for this for ten years, despite having a full-time post lecturing at Maseno University and overseeing operations at the Aquinoe Learning Centre.

The Chair of the School Board, Lilyan Otagi, has also been studying and was awarded her Batchelor of Education.

The trustees congratulate both Director and Chair.  What a brilliant weekend for them both, as well as Aquinoe.


Table Top Fundraiser

Plaxtol Memorial Hall was the venue for a table top sale to which Lynne and Jean took the remaining items from the Tonbridge Festival stall along with some delightful new decorative reindeer created by Lynne.

There was a steady stream of visitors, many of whom gave the reindeer new homes and £41.50 was added to the £93 raised from the festival last month.

Funds raised at Tonbridge Festival

Trustees, Lynne, Clive and Jean along with Dave manned a charity stall at Tonbridge Christmas Festival today.  The event included switching on the Christmas lights in the town and fireworks, as well a parade, morris dancers and singers.

Amongst a variety of items on the stall were home made jams and chutney, bird boxes, Christmas decorations, bags, scarves, jewellery and hand-made cards.

Giant Cheque from Colston Bassett School

Jean received a giant cheque for a wonderful £817.16 from two of the pupils from Colston Bassett Preparatory School in Nottinghamshire on 10th November.

She gave an illustrated talk to the pupils to show them how their money has been spent and answered questions before receiving the cheque.


The pupils, parent and staff from Colston Bassett have supported the Aquinoe Learning Centre with many fund raising activities over the last two years.

Previously, funds have been used to buy musical instruments for Aquinoe, and this year money has been spent on the first phase of a rainwater harvesting project.

The provision of piped water in Kenya is very expensive so any means of using the (often) torrential rain is not only useful but of real benefit to the school, which would otherwise be wasted as runoff.

Purchase of materials for this project started while Tina and Jean were at the school in September so they were able to see the effects immediately.



Pre-school Pupils graduate

Pre-school pupils graduated this week and will return into Grade One in January.  They all look very smart in their gowns and hats, along with their teachers.


Kitale Agricultural Show

Pupils and staff from the Aquinoe Learning Centre visited the local Agricultural Show today.

Weekend Quiz Raises Record Total

The Aquinoe annual quiz was held in Five Oak Green on Saturday 7th October 2017.

As ever, the trustees were delighted with the support from everyone at the village hall and also from those who couldn’t attend but still gave donations.

All in all, we raised £714.74, a great total, which will be sent to the Aquinoe Learning Centre with our December transfer.

Twelve teams entered hoping to win the quiz crown which, after stiff competition, was eventually won by the ‘Haywards Heath Hopefuls’ with 111 points, closely followed by ‘Where’s Jap?’ with 108.5 points and ‘One Pickle Short of Bedlam’ with a total of 107 points.

The Newts battled to the end and seemed happy with their wooden spoons!

Many, many thanks to all who took part and who donated prizes for the raffle.

Jean and Tina’s trip to Kenya 2017

Tina and Jean visited the Aquinoe Learning Centre between September 20th and October 3rd 2017.

The two weeks seemed to pass extremely quickly, but they managed to get through much work at the school and felt the trip was well worthwhile.

The welcome from both staff members and pupils, as well as the Director ad Chairman of the Board of Trustees was wonderful and T and J made many friends while in Kitale.

They wrote a blog while at the school, which can be accessed here

M Makes More Progress

M, who arrived at the Aquinoe Learning Centre just weeks ago in a wheelchair, has been receiving intensive physiotherapy and is now walking.

Her wheelchair is folded up under her bed after two years of use.

Her mother saw this progress and left the school lat week with tears of joy in her eyes.

M has bonded very well with classmates and teachers and seems to be a different girl from the one who turned up at school recently.

What a marvellous transformation.  (more…)

Teacher Turns up Trumps

Jean knew RG when she taught Jean’s daughter at primary school, before RG made dyslexia her specialism. They have kept in contact over the years and now RG has retired, she has passed on many of her resources, including packs of playing cards, to the ALC charity.

Jean and Tina are going to the Aquinoe Learning Centre school in Kitale on 18th September 2017 and will transport many of the resources to the school.  Some of these will be passed on to Sara, the special needs teacher for use with her pupils, while the Diennes cubes/blocks will probably be used by other class teachers.

Education Excitement

This week has seen the admission of a pupil at the Aquinoe Learning Centre.

Nothing unusual about that at the beginning of a term, you might think.

Perhaps not, but this pupil (M) is paralysed from the waist down and has been refused entry to several schools due to being in a wheelchair.

The story starts off as a sad one.

At the age of twelve she contracted malaria and was taken to a local clinic. She was given an injection, but this had an adverse affect on some nerves and within a few days her legs were paralysed.

She started a physiotherapy course at home, and improved a little, but the treatment was expensive and eventually her parents could not afford it any more, so M deteriorated.

She could no longer go to school and started to have home tuition, but was very lonely, especially as her four siblings were enjoying themselves at school.

Her father Googled to see if there might be a school in Kenya that would admit her.  He came across this charity website and emailed the trustees.

This is where the good news starts.

The Director of the school, Josphat Shaduma, assessed M and was happy to admit her to the Aquinoe Learning Centre.  She can use her wheelchair on the tiled areas of the school and can access physiotherapy treatment at the school, as well as learning with others in a classroom.

The parents were very emotional when M started at the beginning of the week as they had almost given up hoping for a placement for their daughter.


10km update

Donations have continued to come in for Dave and Patrick’s ten kilometre run in aid of the Aquinoe Learning Centre.  These donations now total £588.22.

Many, many thanks both to runners and donors.


Jean’s husband Dave and son Patrick raised over £350 for Aquinoe running in the annual 10K event round Olympic Park in London on July 2.
Patrick braved a blistered heel to record a personal best of 53 minutes, 53 seconds while Dave came home in 1 hour, 9 minutes, 38 seconds.
Over 6,100 runners took part with Patrick finishing 1,768th and Dave, racing for the third year in a row, a more modest 4,612th.
Dave, 72,  says: “I was hoping to keep under 1 hour 10 minutes so I am pleased about that although I was
rather one-paced.
“It was great to have so much support at the venue from Jean and son Chris and off the track from our most kind sponsors so thanks to everyone who contributed so much.”
The last 100 metres of the event are run up the finishing straight of the Olympic Stadium where so many athletic greats have raced since 2012, the year of the London Games.
Dave says: “I kept just enough in reserve to sprint that last 50 metres. It’s quite a thrill but Usain Bolt can rest easy!”
He adds: “Patrick was a real star running with a heavily bandaged heel protecting a blood blister which emerged a couple of weeks ago so to record the time he did was something special.”
Patrick, 38,  says: ” What a thrill to run in the Olympic Stadium. It was a pleasure to help raise money for Aquinoe so that Jean and everyone else can continue their excellent work.
“Thanks to Dave who inspired me to get back into running. Fingers crossed we can continue to run and raise more money in the future.”

David Miliband on refugees

Jean recently heard a TED talk by David Miliband on refugees.

She has been seeking sponsorship for South Sudanese refugees  from the Kakuma camp in Northern Kenya over the last year.  It was therefore inspiring to hear David Miliband, president of the International Rescue Committee, talking so eloquently about the millions of people displaced from their homes by conflict and disaster.

Please listen to the TED talk


Stars successful!

Patrick and Dave are real stars.  They both participated in the Great Newham Run at the Olympic Park over ten kilometres and turned in wonderful performances in hot conditions.

Thank you so much to both of them for supporting the Aquinoe Learning Centre by asking sponsors to donate to the school.

Chris and Jean were at the Park to cheer them on.


Dave and Patrick run for Aquinoe

Tomorrow is the day of the Great Newham run – ten kilometres round the Olympic Park, finishing off with a lap round the London Stadium.

Dave (husband) and Patrick (son) are both running and have asked friends and family for sponsorship with the proceeds going to the Aquinoe Centre Charitable Trust.

Newham 10km Run

The trustees wish them both much luck.  Jean and Chris (son) will be there to cheer their heroes on!