Aquinoe Learning Centre

The News

Super Sporting Shipment

The pupils at the Aquinoe Learning Centre have just received another box of football shirts, shorts and boots from Canada.

Children who play for the Cherry Beach Soccer Club in Toronto donate kit when they’ve outgrown it.  This is collected by a good friend of the charity and is sent to the Aquinoe.

Staff and pupils were very excited when the box arrived yesterday and children were delighted to try out the kit today and play games.

Cherry Beach kit sent in the past has been used when Aquinoe children have represented the school in the community.  Comments have been made that they are the smartest pupils in the area!


Pupils enjoying P.E.

Pupils in Class One had an indoor physical education lesson with their teacher Mercy in their classroom this week.  They enjoyed the stretching, swinging and shoulder presses.

It’s a good job their classroom has a tiled floor, otherwise this activity would not be possible.

Jade and Jean


Jean met Jade in London yesterday to discuss a possible partnership.

Jade is a former volunteer at Aquinoe and an expert in Early Years Education and the curriculum.

If the partnership comes about, it would involve post-graduate students travelling to Aquinoe to carry out a placement related to their subject – drama, music, visual art, psychology or film.

The students would be funded through CHASE, Consortium of Humanities and Arts in the South England of England.

This is an exciting project and the charity trustees are very hopeful that it will go ahead.


Aquinoe benefits from plants

MB is a long time supporter of Aquinoe and has sold surplus plants from her personal nursery at her garden gate.

She has donated hundreds of pounds in the last few years and has just made another transfer to the Aquinoe account.

Thank you MB for your latest donation of £81.35.

Collecting used postage stamps

The Aquinoe Learning Centre Charitable Trust has been collecting used postage stamps for several years.

Our original contact trader is now no longer in business but the charity is able to send stamps to a different trader.

This method of fundraising only creates a small income – but all income helps projects at the school so collections will continue.

You could save stamps on your personal mail, ask at your work office, or get children at your local school to donate.

Please help and email this address if you have stamps to contribute.


Jean (Chairperson)

£1,000 donation

The trustees are extremely grateful to CF, a great supporter of the Aquinoe Learning Centre, for his generous donation of £1,000 to boost charity funds.

12 Days Later ……..

(By Minerva Chicken)

And I’m still trying to take it all in!

What struck me most about Aquinoe Learning Centre is the pervading sense of confidence and air of optimism amongst staff and pupils alike. It’s a ‘can do’ environment underlined with compassion and kindness.

I’ve learnt a lot from everyone; especially Jean. Josphat calls her the ‘mother’ of the school. Jean knows how to make gentle suggestions; when to speak directly and somewhat paradoxically, when ‘to go with the flow.’ All skilful work.

Aquinoe Learning Centre will always hold a special place in my heart. Deepest thanks to Jean for giving me the opportunity to return to Africa after such a long absence.

During the Drama and Dance performance two girls performed Africa My Pride by Bothkale Boikanyo. It begins:

‘Africa my roots

Africa my pride

Oh Africa, my motherland

I fly so rich and gifted

Our nation filled with diversity of cultures ……’


Entertainment at Aquinoe

Jean ad Min were treated to some great entertainment provided by pupils at the school.

See first video of the performances here

See second video of the performances here

See third video of the performances here


Aquinoe Trip

Jean and Min have just returned from a fantastic trip to the Aquinoe Learning Centre in Kitale, which proved successful and very worthwhile.

See blog posts here

Fundraising stamps

The Aquinoe Learning Centre has been collecting used stamps for a couple of years.  Admittedly, we do have to save up many stamps before we can send them on to ‘Fundraising Stamps’ for payment, so it’s a long term project!

Supporters can either send them to Jean or directly to Fund-raising Stamps.

Jeremy at JLA started to save them for the charity.   He has now left the firm, but other staff have continued to save stamps for ALC – so many thanks to Millie and Phoebe for their efforts.

Duke of Edinburgh Award Reaps Rewards for Aquinoe

‘A’ level student from Tonbridge, Matthew, has been a volunteer for the ALC for the last couple of years.  He did some of this as part of his Duke of Edinburgh Bronze and Silver Awards and, more recently, has been working on  his Gold Award.

He is talented in design and has produced flyers and promotional material for the charity and the school in the past.

His most recent undertaking was to research, design and acquire a table runner for the charity to use at a variety of events.

Matthew’s mother, Michelle, generously financed the runner – many thanks for this.

Matthew, his sister Bella and Michelle delivered the runner to Jean and stayed on for a fruitful discussion about future fundraising ideas including foodstuffs, packaging and decorations.

Bella would also like to volunteer her time and skills for Aquinoe, so many thanks for that.

The trustees extend their grateful thanks to the whole family.

The runner was securely packaged and it was only gradually revealed!

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.