From the outset, one of the underpinning principles that we wanted to see reflected in the development of Arise Community School was real ownership by the local community – their school for their children and their community. We wanted the buildings to be used as a resource by the local community when not in use by the children.
Since the beginning, the school has been the regular meeting place for a local micro finance group. In fact, there are now two such groups which meet weekly. The initial group, which is also constituted as the Village Community Bank (Mkombozi Vicoba), meets on a Thursday afternoon when school has finished. The more newly established group meets on a Sunday.
Both groups have a mix of men and women as members and operate in similar ways. Each has its own constitution, rules and regulations and members pay a weekly sub. Funds are used to provide loans to members, for example, for setting up a small business, assistance with medical bills or school fees. Interest is charged with a higher rate on business loans. At the end of the financial year, profits are shared amongst the group. The box in the foreground of each photo is the safe box for documents and cash.
The success of the groups reflects the importance members of the local community place on improving their life circumstances and aspiring to a better life for themselves and their families. By providing a place to meet, Arise School is playing a vital role in helping them to achieve that.