A school to help some of Africa’s most disadvantaged children is set to be opened in memory of Lara Jones.
Teacher Lara, 26, of Goosnargh, near Preston, was killed by a hostel worker while travelling in Cuba in March 2012. The man was later jailed for 22 years.
Determined to keep her Lara’s spirit alive, her family set up Lara’s Foundation, a charitable organisation which aims to provide English language education in impoverished communities around the world. And early in the New Year, a new school will be opened in Tanzania, named Lara’s Foundation School, in her memory.
Lara’s mum Carolyn said the memory of Lara had been the driving force behind the project.
She said: “Lara is constantly in our hearts and minds and we thank her for being our eternal source of energy.”
Here in her own words, Lara’s mum Carolyn Jones tells of her recent trip to Tanzania to visit the school:
TANZANIA is one of the world’s poorest countries and Shinyanga, one of its poorest areas. HIV/Aids claims many lives and leave children orphaned.
Ndala shares in this situation and many of the children, all under the age of six, who will be the first students in our new school, are orphaned and are living with their extended families in the village.
In Ndala there was no pre-school. Twenty-five children from the village had been taught by two devoted ‘teachers’ in a series of temporary shelters.
Currently, they are using a partly built market place but once the new school building is completed they will be moved out.
This will be their third move this year. The teachers are really carers having had only two weeks’ training and the level of commitment and enthusiasm they display is matched by the level of deprivation they overcome.
They simply have nothing other than a roof. There are no floors, just sand and dirt, no walls, no lights, no books, no toilets....
They will be moving into their brand new, purpose built, Lara’s Foundation funded school, complete with a large classroom, teachers’ room, three toilets for the boys and three for the girls and a kitchen.
The three parts to this building project - Save the Children with their knowledge and expertise of what is needed and works best in the area, Raleigh International with their volunteer manpower and support, and us, Lara and her Foundation - were all eager to get this project moving.
From initial talks between us in September, to the start of the build in October to the completion of the centre in December, we have all worked hard to ensure that nothing gets in the way of progress. Everyone was committed to having the school ready by the end of the year and the children benefitting from it by early January.
It took groups of young volunteers from Raleigh International around nine weeks of digging, bricklaying, plastering and painting in the baking heat, to get the school near to completion.
The school will be known as Lara’s Foundation school and I took over a brass plaque bearing our logo and the words, ‘Dedicated to the memory of Lara Jones (inset left) and Donated by Lara’s Foundation’. As soon as the final plasterwork is completed, the plaque will take pride of place at the entrance to the school.
Having the school is a great advantage to the children of the area but Lara’s Foundation hopes to go further. We hope to provide books and teachers’ aids to the school and we are talking with our sponsors EC London - where Lara taught English and where their new library is dedicated to Lara - to discuss the possibility of teachers going to the village to teach the teachers how to teach the children English.
It is essential for the children in Tanzania and in so many countries to have a good knowledge of English as without it there is no possibility of them progressing with their education. Primary education up to the age of 14 is in the local dialect, in this case Swahili. All schooling and college and university tuition after 14 is in English.
On Thursday November 14, I met with 16 community officials who were very interested to learn about our foundation and what we could offer.
After talking with them and listening to them it was clear that everyone wanted the same thing and that within the community there was a firm commitment to the school and its on going success.
Each was sensitive to the circumstances that had brought the foundation and me to Ndala and one member proposed a minute’s silence to remember Lara. It was quite emotional.
No one can be blind to the inequalities that exist across continents in terms of access to food, clean water, health care, education and life opportunities.
By being focused on education and in particular, English Language tuition, Lara’s Foundation hopes to make a small contribution to small rural communities with the hope and belief that in so doing a disproportionally large improvement will be made to the life choices of those people who are the beneficiaries.
We always remember the reason and motivation for the creation of Lara’s Foundation and that is, of course, Lara who is our inspiration and driving force.
She is the reason that keeps us dedicated to making Lara’s Foundation, a worthwhile organisation that keeps her friends and supporters devoted to efforts to fundraising and the lynchpin that holds us all together in our grief. Lara is constantly in our hearts and minds and we thank her for being our eternal source of energy.
Lara’s Foundation is appealing for donations of basic English books and medical supplies Contact Carolyn via www.larasfoundation.co.uk
Pictures courtesy of Lara’s Foundation