Swanage student Alfie Moyler struggled to find motivation at school, but says he’s now found his true calling in life – to help young children get a life changing education in one of the poorest countries in Africa.
Alfie and his school friend Katia McCrudden are raising funds to buy a new school bus to help the children at the Eden Village preschool in Tanzania go on to attend a private primary school after the age of eight.
Alfie and Katia about to join in soccer sessions at the school
Working at a school near Mount Kilimanjaro
Their GoFundMe page has just hit the halfway mark towards raising £3,000 which would cover the cost of buying a minibus and paying for its fuel for a year, and they would dearly love to be able to start 2023 by reaching the target.
Alfie, a former student of The Swanage School, is now head of partnerships and fundraising at the school in Arusha, a city in Tanzania in the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro and close to the Serengeti national park.
It’s a country of great beauty, but also one where millions of children are trapped in a cycle of poverty because they don’t have access to education.
Still in his early 20s, Alfie – the son of Swanage musician Shaun Moyler – said he was determined to do something to help as soon as he arrived in Tanzania after 18 months of travelling through Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
The Umoja Maono project – which means United Vision in Swahili – is built around the Eden Village preschool, which takes 200 children from the age of two to eight years with 30 graduated students currently being sponsored to attend a private primary school.
The school bus Alfie and Katia hope to buy will ensure that 30 children can carry on their education
Biggest priority is that children can go to school
“The sponsorships cover their school fees and basic necessities, but many families can’t pay the $10 a month for transport – so Katia and I want to do something to help make a big difference.
“Our biggest priority is that the children continue to go to school, and our solution is to raise funds to buy a school bus!
“Between the ages of seven and 17 there are an estimated five million Tanzanian children who don’t go to school and either have to work in dangerous conditions or are unable to get a job and support themselves and their families.
“Eventually it results in their children not getting an education either, usually due to a lack of funding, but Umoja Maono school can make a real difference by teaching life skills and particularly in helping to empower girls.
“When I walk into school in the mornings, I am welcomed by the smiling faces of 200 happy kids – that’s my motivation and that’s what gives me the drive to keep persevering here.
“When I arrived, our school was little more than a field with a single classroom and 20 enrolled students. Now I am proud that the community has two fully operational schools supporting more than 200 students, many of whom would not have had the chance otherwise.”
Teachers at Eden Village are always welcomed by smiling faces
Life skills like farming and cooking
The rapid growth has strengthened his resolve to keep going forward and Umoja Maono now plans to work with other communities to create a network of sustainable villages that can be replicated in other areas or other countries.
Curriculum changes have been made to give children the best start in life with not only the essentials of mathematics and literacy taught, but also life skills such as farming, cooking, sewing and hygiene.
The long term aim of the team is to create a network of villages created from sustainable architecture, supporting their own communities through permaculture farming and always providing women and youngsters with education.
Full time staff at the school include six teachers and a chef, but as the project continues to grow it is taking on international volunteers to help shape the lives of youngsters and eventually to share its vision with the world.
A new classroom was built by volunteers in less than a week
Arts, music, dance and football skills
Teachers have started to arrive from around the world for short stays to pass on their special skills, which have included arts, music and dance groups and sports including football for boys and girls.
They are also developing an empowerment group for women to teach them skills which will allow them to create their own income in future.
But at the heart of the project, Eden Vision pre-school is providing essential support for young children while also training local teachers to provide quality education to as many students as possible.
Projects which Alfie and Katia have been involved with include building a new classroom in less than a week, painting the original classroom, extending and improving a hygienic toilet block and creating office space for the team to plan and implement the future.
The children are always eager to learn from their teachers
“Swanage School supported my ambitions”
“Break time is my favourite part of the day when my friend Katia, the volunteers and I get to entertain the kids. This is what I keep in mind whenever the day gets long and I find myself trapped at my laptop working on spreadsheets for the school.
“I never expected I would enjoy this type of work, as when I was at The Swanage School I was easily distracted, questioning my motivation to complete my courses.
“I enjoyed sport, outdoor learning and practical activities, and preferred to learn through experiences – a bit like the Montessori work that we are doing in Tanzania.
“My school supported me in being an individual and having ambitions and aspirations. I was aware that I could be a bit of a pain and didn’t always fit the mould but they let me be who I wanted to be and this got me through school.”
A beach adventure during a weekend break in Tanzania
Tanzania is a beautiful country, but with some serious problems to address
Every day is full of unexpected events
“I have always loved to travel , take risks and have adventures and new experiences. My parents travelled a lot when they were younger so have always been very supportive of my chosen way of life, although a little worried at times.
“I love to have adventures, take risks, visit new places and meet new people. My time in Arusha has given me all of these things and I really love every day. Every day is different and full of unexpected events and I really enjoy this.
“In the 18 months before I got here, I travelled to 30 countries, starting on a boat in Croatia, taking me round Europe and the Middle East, and then on to Africa.
“I have so enjoyed my experiences from working in nightclubs in Dubai to making crepes on the slopes of the Alps and can now use all of these skills and experiences here in Arusha.”
Weekend adventures out of Arusha may include a safari camp expedition
Although it is always advisable to keep a lookout above you…
You never know what the next photo opportunity might be
Weekends are reserved for adventure
Volunteer workers and teachers – as well as occasional tourists – stay at the Umoja Maono hostel, where weekends are reserved for adventure including safaris and treks up Mount Kilimanjaro, hiking, camping and hot spring bathing.
The money raised in renting the accommodation – $5 a night for volunteers and $10 for tourists – is ploughed back into improving facilities at the school.