What will you get up to on the weekend?

Well, if you’re Michael Arlington, one of the Allchurches trustees, then a 180-mile bike ride from London to Paris might be on the cards…

Michael Arlington has been a Trustee of Allchurches Trust since 2014. Apart from the important role he plays at Allchurches, he has also spent the last 10 years travelling to Uganda to create schools and colleges specialising in nursing and agriculture.

That was until 2011, when he met a remarkable family in the rural north of Uganda and his commitment to do something to help stepped up a gear or two, not least because of his own experience of farming in a UK rural community.

The Kezzy family had founded a secondary school on their family land. They had erected shanty buildings, with little more than commitment, sacrifice and determination to offer to rural children. With a handful of early students now studying to be doctors, nurses and agriculturalists, the Kezzys could claim that Keframa is already empowering hopelessly impoverished children to serve their own local communities; they are practical agents of change.

Inspired and moved by the incredible Kezzys and the gratitude, enthusiasm and hard work of their students, Michael returned again and again. His aim has grown to support and resource the self-funded school into a sustainable, fully equipped, secondary school for 500 students.

To widen support for the work, Michael, with his daughter Claire, founded Keframa School Build. The charity has now raised more than £220,000 to purchase five acres of land and build phase one of the school, which opened in March this year. The latest fundraising effort saw Michael join a team for a London to Paris Bike Ride from 17 to 19 May, organised by young graduates from ATOS in London in support of the project. The ride has now raised a remarkable £30,000 (target £15000) for textbooks and laboratory equipment urgently required for the students.

Michael said: “I am not a cyclist … and the late training schedule was punishing. Six weeks before the ride I was pointed to a second hand road bike (never ridden one before!) and the saddle-with-no-suspension really was pretty painful. WHY, I asked myself, was I doing this?”

Michael’s question was rhetorical, of course. The Keframa School Build project is making an enormous difference in Northern Uganda; an area that witnessed so many massacres and atrocities in the early part of the 21st Century, with government enforced internment camps and thousands of children being forced to join the militia. Communities, villages and families are only now re-adjusting from being torn apart, broken and impoverished.

Keframa School is virtually the only secondary school in the region and another £250,000 is needed to complete the buildings, invest in staff, and provide capacity for an additional 200 students.

The charity is also looking for sponsors to fund school fees to undertake their four-year secondary education up to O level. For more information, go to www.keframaschoolbuild.co.uk

Michael added: “If I do that again ‘[a long cycle ride], it would be good to have a few other members join our Group and come along for the ride. And, if someone could ensure sunshine next time, rather than torrential rain, that wouldn’t be a bad thing either!”

To find out more about the trustees of Allchurches Trust, click here.

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