Nov. 19th, 2008

Cut-and-pasted from a Facebook message. The woman doing this is someone I met when I was 12 and remained penfriends with for some time before losing track of her and then finding her again through Faceborg; she is brilliant and wonderful.

Goal: Raise $2,000 and see how money grows on trees!

We created Noonkodin School from scratch five years ago, out of a patch of bush land in the mountains of northern Tanzania. Now our first class of 26 students, most of them from low-income Maasai pastoralist families, has just graduated from Form 4 (the equivalent of GCSE). None of this would have been possible without the sacrifices made by hundreds of individuals all around the world who sponsor students, make donations for buildings or equipment, and support our special appeals. If you're among them, thanks so much for your valued support, and please forgive us for making yet another appeal to you! If you're a newcomer to the school, we hope you'll consider making a contribution, however small.

To secure the school's long-term future and reduce the risk that the global credit crunch and a resulting drop in donations will eventually force it to close down, cutting off the only possibility of a high school education for dozens of disadvantaged Tanzanian youth, we now want to take some important steps towards sustainability. Setting up an organic farm will enable the school to grow its own food; rainwater harvesting tanks will help it to become self-sufficient in water, in an area where the nearest potable water source is a 4-hour walk away; and keeping dairy cows will enable us to produce enough methane to run a specially designed biogas cooker, eliminating the need for firewood.

The first step is deceptively simple. Planting the thorny, drought-resistant shrub Jatropha curcas as a living fence around the school compound will keep livestock out of the school grounds, making it feasible for us to start crop trials without the young plants getting munched. But that's not all. The seeds of the Jatropha plant yield a viscous oil that can be used as a substitute for diesel to power generators, machinery and even vehicles. It can be converted, through a very simple process that our chemistry students will be able to perform in their own lab, to a medicinal soap that has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. (We still need to equip the lab too - but that's another story!)

We are aiming to raise at least $2,000 to plant enough Jatropha saplings to create a living fence all the way around the school grounds, and to purchase a hand-operated oil press. Please consider donating $20 for two saplings, $40 for five, or whatever you can afford. The saplings would make a great Christmas present for the friend or relative who has everything!

UK-based friends can donate directly to our own registered charity, Serian UK (Reg. No. 1111711): News.htm
This also means we can claim an extra 28% in Gift Aid from taxpayers.

We guarantee that ALL money donated to Serian UK is sent out to the projects in Tanzania, and since its establishment in April 2005, the charity has not spent a penny on administration (other than bank charges). We can prove this through audited accounts that have been submitted to the Charity Commission. The Trustees have covered all transport and postage expenses out of their own pockets, and photocopying has been provided for free by a school in Southampton.

If you are in the US or Canada please donate via the Facebook website to ICSEE, a 501(c)3 registered nonprofit, which has been supporting Noonkodin through a formal partnership agreement since 2006.

We also have a partner charity in Australia, St Brigid's Charity, set up by the headmistress of St Brigid's Primary School in Nerang, Queensland to raise funds for Maasai girls at the school who had run away from home to escape from female genital mutilation and forced marriage. Please e-mail me if you would like further information and contact details.


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