“The Uniqueness and Very Special Gift that is the Arise School and its Community”

Regular followers of our blog will be only too aware of the brilliant and ongoing support that we enjoy from Cronton C of E Primary School. Following her recent trip to Arise School for the official opening and five year celebration, we received the piece below from Sylvia Thomson, the Headteacher.

“Several years ago our school began to support ACE charity. Their belief that, “ all children have the right to education as a route out of poverty” absolutely struck a chord with me and I felt fundraising to support ACE would be a positive experience for the Children at Cronton CE. However, I also knew that I wanted to develop a strong link with the charity so that whilst fundraising would be important, giving the children at Cronton CE an understanding of what life is like for a Child at Arise in Tanzania would help them to develop an appreciation of different lifestyles and cultures, recognising that we have more in common than our differences.

Cronton pupils have wholeheartedly embraced the Children at Arise. They have taken part in many events such as market places, coffee mornings and Harvest collections. They are so motivated to support the school, that many children have initiated their own fundraising activities. The response has been overwhelming. Parents have too played a major role by taking part in sponsored activities (Tough Mudder) and also arranging collections of sports equipment and kits to send out to the school. Our focus on Christian values has meant we have been able to put our teaching and learning into positive actions. Children can see the impact of their efforts through the responses of the pupils of Arise.

It was a pleasure to be able to travel out to the School with my Husband in the October half term holiday for their 5th Birthday Celebrations. I was really unsure as to what to expect and nothing can quite prepare you. We arrived in Kilimanjaro airport quite late at night and had first hand experience of “Tanzania time!” After several hours of Visa’s, passports and security we finally were met by Frank (school director) and his wife Salome (administrator). During the week, I watched these two people who were completely delivering their vision for a school in the community for all children into a reality. I was in awe of their hard work, passion and commitment to deliver education to some of the poorest and most disadvantaged children I have ever seen.

We spent several days in Moshi, a local town, experiencing African life and meeting some of the wonderful Volunteers who have supported ACE. We finally arrived at the school on Friday morning to be met with a traditional Tanzanian welcome. The children had gathered in the courtyard and sang several songs in both English and Swahili accompanied by their school band. Touring the school, the friendliness, warmth and love that the children showed towards us as visitors was overwhelming. The children are proud of their school. They feel safe there and they obviously value their education deeply. I spent some time talking and working with the children on joint projects with Cronton. The children’s focus on their work and their aspiration to achieve is inspirational. I was truly humbled by their ability to converse with such ease in English. The innovative decision to teach all lessons in English so that transfer to secondary is made easier was obviously the right one as I joked and laughed with the children and they told me of their ambitions to be a doctor or a pilot. Two bears accompanied us on our trip, Barnaby the Cronton bear and “Upendo” (Swahili for love) who was named by the children in Arise. They provided much fun and excitement both in the school and on the Dala Dala (local bus!)

On the Saturday we attended the celebration. It was a real community event and was well supported by the Parents. The highlight was the pupils who shared work, sang songs and danced for the audience. It was recognition of what they as a community have achieved with the support of ACE.

One afternoon I walked home with one of the infant children who lived close by to the school. As a sponsored child, they receive support to attend. I met his grandmother who was raising him and his cousins and doing the best that she could. Their circumstances were bleak and I could see why, as a child, school would be such a warm and welcoming environment to spend your day with the promise of 2 regular meals a day. It was also clear to me why campaigns such as “buy a breakfast” are a life line for so many families.

Mike and I agree that our week in Tanzania was both illuminating and humbling. Nothing is quite the same after you return and those that we travelled with and shared our experiences with understand the uniqueness and very special gift that is the Arise School community.”


ACE Christmas Well Appeal: Sustain Our School: Secure Their Future

In September, we launched our ACE Well Appeal. Now that the last three classrooms are well on their way to completion, our aim is to raise enough money over Christmas to construct a well at Arise School during 2018. A well will enable the school to begin its journey towards self sustainability. ACE will then have achieved its goal of building a self sufficient school for the community. It will secure the future education of their children.

Currently, the school has a standpipe but water is metered and, therefore, costly. Frank has turned the school grounds into a tropical oasis of colourful shrubs, plants and flowers by creatively recycling the children’s hand washing water for irrigation purposes. Banana and papaya trees have been planted and are already laden with fruit in season.

But this is just a beginning. The school has more land and the potential to grow crops if water is more readily and cheaply available. This would not only provide food to supplement the children’s diet. Any surplus would be sold to bring in income to help the school towards self sufficiency. It would ensure its long term sustainability.

From the school, the water (snow) on the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro is clearly visible. There is also water under the mountain. However, it is necessary to drill down 100 metres to reach it. So many of us are fortunate enough to take water for granted. So many of us are also fortunate enough to need nothing for Christmas.

So, this Christmas, please help us to raise the money needed to construct the well and to purchase an irrigation system. In total, we need to raise a massive £12,000. For those of your family and friends who need nothing or are hard to buy for, we can supply an ACE Gift Certificate. Just donate online and let us know whether you would like an electronic or paper copy. Thank you for helping us to make Arise School self sustaining.

St. Ann’s Pupils Donate Harvest Collection to ACE

Once again, we were delighted to learn that this year the pupils of St. Ann’s C of E School, Rainhill, were donating the proceeds from their Harvest Collection to ACE. The donation was the very first we received to our “Buy a Breakfast” Appeal when it was launched in October 2014.

Last week, we were invited into the children’s assembly to update them on progress at Arise School. The St. Ann’s children listened so intently as we focused on the story of one little boy and his two sisters who started at the school quite recently.

Like all of the children sponsored through ACE, Arise School is not just providing them with the opportunity of an education. It is making a very real difference in their ability to make the most of their schooling through the essential extras the children receive, in particular, with regards to food – breakfast and lunch.

The St. Ann’s children have continued to help us make this possible since 2014. We were also able to tell them about the plans we now have to raise money for a well to help Arise School to grow its own food and, eventually, become self sustainable.

A huge “Thank You” to all the children and staff at St. Ann’s for their continuing support in the last three years. We greatly appreciate all their ongoing efforts.

Back To Arise For A Very Special Occasion! (Part 4) A Very Special Endin

The excitement of the celebration over, there were still a few important things to do in the next few days at Arise School.

All those bulging suitcases needed to be unpacked! Between us, we had managed to take out so many donated items – dozens of shoes from the children of Cronton C of E Primary School; dozens of books from the pupils at Rainford C of E Primary School; many more books, shoes, clothes and toys donated by the children at St. Margaret Ward Catholic Primary School in Trafford and those in Class 2SH at Oswald Road Primary School in Chorlton, Manchester. There were also more shoes, clothes and toys donated by individuals and sports equipment from West Park RFC that was very quickly in use. Not least, Barnaby Bear and companion were soon sporting their new knitted hats!

The Cronton students had written letters to the Arise pupils telling them a bit about themselves and the things they enjoyed doing. Letters were written in return. They had also recorded a short video of themselves singing a song. Mrs. Thomson, their Headteacher, who was part of our group, taught the song to the Arise pupils. They learned it extremely quickly and translated it into Swahili!

And then there was something very special. The Arise pupils were asked to name Barnaby Bear’s companion. They chose the name Upendo which means “love” in Swahili. Sadly, the bears were then separated. Upendo returned with Mrs. Thomson to be with the children at Cronton School whilst Barnaby has stayed in Tanzania with the Arise children.

Finally, the Arise students gathered to sing one last time for us, accompanied by their percussion band. Once more, the atmosphere was amazing and we were all touched by the emotion of the situation. Thanks to modern technology, over 5,000 miles away, the Cronton pupils, assembled in their school hall, were also able to be part it. It was certainly a very special ending to what had been a very special occasion!

Back To Arise For A Very Special Occasion! (Part 3) A Very Special Event

Saturday, 28th October – the chosen day for the official opening and celebration of five years of operation of Arise School – proved a brilliant occasion. It was a very special event.

Pupils and staff, over 400 members of the local community, including parents, guardians, invited dignitaries and others who have supported the school locally, gathered in the school grounds. In particular, the guests of honour included the proud parents of Frank, the School Manager, who so generously donated the land on which the school has been built.

We were delighted that a small group of our ACE supporters had also travelled from the UK with us to be part of the celebration. Amongst them were several who have volunteered at Arise in recent years.

Following the official opening, speeches were interspersed by songs, dancing, poetry and even a science lesson from the children! From the youngest to the eldest, all were so well behaved throughout. Their performances were amazing. We were so proud of them all. A local group of Maasai performed a traditional dance and, by way of a thank you, garlands were given to those who have helped the school on its way.

It was all so colourful and the atmosphere so convivial. In true Tanzanian style, the celebration concluded with a huge spread of tasty local food which was much enjoyed by everyone. It was a great privilege to be part of such a real community celebration.

We left knowing that, in just five years, Arise School has already made such a difference to the lives of some of the poorest children living in the village. A huge thank you to all of you, our ACE supporters, who have helped us to make this possible through your generous donations, sponsorship, volunteering and countless other efforts.

Back To Arise For A Very Special Occasion! (Part 2)A Very Special Welcome 

On Friday 27th October, the snow covered peak of Mt Kilimanjaro lifted itself above the cloud as we walked with our visitors from our accommodation to the school. We were, of course, accompanied by Barnaby Bear and his companion, still to be named! (see last week’s blog).  

It was the day prior to the official opening and celebration of five years of operation of Arise School. We wanted our visitors to have the chance to see round the school before the day itself and, for those who had not previously been to Arise, the opportunity to meet Frank and Salome who have worked so hard and with such commitment over the last five years to realise the school.

Enjoying their mid morning break when we arrived, the children rushed to greet us. They gave us such a very special welcome. One of our first time visitors, Sylvia Thomson, the Headteacher of Cronton C of E Primary School, wrote:

“We arrived at the school on Friday to a magnificent welcome from all the pupils and staff. The children sang a number of songs, including the School Song and National Anthem, accompanied by the school percussion band. They sang with such passion and enthusiasm it was overwhelming and created such a welcome that all visitors were truly moved. What a magnificent start to our visit.”   

As always, listening ourselves to the children singing in such green, pleasant surroundings and seeing the progress since our last visit – three more classrooms nearly completed since July – didn’t fail to bring a tear to our eyes. Liz, who has previously volunteered at the school and returned with us for this very special occasion, clearly felt the same way. She sent us this piece:
“I volunteered at Arise School in September 2016 and totally embraced the experience, loving the children, admiring the staff and shocked by the stark poverty. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to return to Arise School to take part in the official opening and 5 year celebration. Once again, I was completely overwhelmed by the welcome all of us visitors from the UK were given by children and staff. The children sang their welcome, including  the National Anthem; it was a hugely emotional experience and I did cry tears of happiness to be back at Arise School. It was a privilege to participate in the celebration day on 28th October.” 

As we showed members of the group round the school, many preparations were underway by both staff and pupils for the following day’s celebration. All of our visitors had either previously been to the school as volunteers or heard a lot about it from ourselves. All were agreed on one thing – Arise School has to be experienced personally to really understand the difference it is making to the lives of its students, many of whom would not otherwise have the opportunity of an education.

Although the cloud had descended over Mt. Kilimanjaro as we walked back at the end of the afternoon, we were all excitedly anticipating the celebration to come the next day.

Back To Arise For A Very Special Occasion! (Part 1)

Last week, we returned to Arise School with a number of our ACE supporters to celebrate a very special occasion. Amazingly, at the end of the school year in early December, Arise School will have been operational for five full years!

The group included the Headteacher of Cronton C of E Primary School. Over the last three years, the children and staff have been fantastic in their ongoing support of ACE and have raised a huge amount of money that has made such a difference at Arise.

We were accompanied throughout by two very special teddy bears. One, named Barnaby, was dressed in the Cronton school uniform. The other, dressed in the Arise uniform, was still to be named by the Arise children. On our first evening, we shared a very enjoyable “welcome” meal together of traditional Tanzanian pilau. Overlooked by Mt Kilimanjaro, the bears then presented us with yet another cheque for over £727, the result of the children’s Harvest collection for our ACE Well Appeal.

Also in the group were six of our ACE volunteers, all of whom have spent periods of varying lengths at the school. From differing backgrounds, at very different stages in their lives and with different contributions to make, it was great to have them all with us and to know that their time at Arise had been so special for them. For two of them, this was their third trip back to Arise!

In all, including ourselves, there were 13 of us. That meant 13 bulging suitcases of donated items for the school – shoes, books, sports kit, clothing, stickers etc. etc. In fact, we had more items donated than we could take although everything will come out with us on future trips

Lastly, for ourselves, although we have been back to Arise School many times since it first opened in January 2013, returning on this occasion with our visitors was particularly special. We remember vividly when Ron and Frank went into the first classroom together for the very first time just five years ago. It is less than six years since Frank and his parents first showed us round their land and told us of their dream to use it to build a school that would be open to any child in the local community, whatever their circumstances. Through ACE, their dream is now a reality – a fully registered Pre and Primary School with 280 pupils.