Raising money for The Heri Special School at Mporoto, Tanzania


Our new management team has now completed its first full year in office, leaving us constantly in awe of what our much loved Mark Roberts and Egha Egha achieved for Heri Special School in the last years of both their lives until 2015. From bare earth, Egha and Mark realised their dream of building a pioneering special school deep in the rolling countryside of Tanzania, and named it “Heri”, meaning happiness in Swahili.

Mark single-handedly persuaded a small and truly wonderful band of supporters to fund the building of Heri Special School. In 2005, Mr Egha began laying the foundations for his school at Mporoto, in the south-west of Tanzania. Over the ensuing years, the school buildings and facilities steadily took shape, thanks to The St Jude Foundation and its’ generous supporters!

some of the pupils and parents at Heri School

Now, in December 2016, there are 51 pupils in all, of which around 20% are disabled, with the remainder being able-bodied primary children. These younger children interact very well with the older disabled pupils. All pupils attend the school for free, as their parents cannot afford to pay school fees.

In Safina Egha (daughter of the late Egha Egha) we are truly blessed to have such an outstanding Head Teacher at Heri School. Safina, her younger sister Anna, and 6 other teachers, work with great care and attention to provide an education that these little children would otherwise not receive.

Safina has confirmed that Heri School is getting closer to achieving official recognition and registration by the Tanzanian Government. The inspectors have been to visit again recently and have encouraged Safina to continue making the remaining improvements. Safina and her team are working their way through the list slowly but surely, towards the aim of school registration. The rate of progress is very much dependent on the amount of financial support the school receives from The St Jude Foundation.

putting up iron sheets above one of the new concrete pathways

So far this year we have sent just over £2500 to the school. This money has been or is currently being used to build covered concrete walk-ways alongside the school buildings, and to carry out urgent repairs to the rusty iron sheets and damp ceiling boards above some of the classrooms. The entrances to the classrooms have now been made wheelchair accessible and the planting and painting has also been completed. We have also sent our regular annual payment of £1400 to the school, which Safina uses to pay her teaching staff. Please have a look at the recent photographs which show many of the pupils and staff, as well as some of the recent building works and other activities.

The items that are still outstanding on the school inspectors’ list are: building the school playground; purchasing and fitting fire extinguishers around the school; and building a covered way from the school to the toilet block. Safina has also requested funds to be able to provide the following: more desks; shoes and uniforms for the pupils; a strong metal cupboard that can be locked to keep valuable items safe; carpentry tools; and sports equipment. It is also expected that the school buildings will require further repairs and maintenance over the coming year, as they are subjected to heavy rainfall during the rainy season.

Making the aforementioned (and very beneficial) improvements to Heri Special School, will cost between £3,000 and £3,500. If you feel able, a donation to The St Jude Foundation towards these costs would be extremely welcome. Please click here for ways to donate. All donations received will attract a 25% lift in value through Gift Aid.

A couple of personal bits of news, namely that Dylan and his partner Emily had their first child in July named Josephine, who is also Neville’s first grandchild. For myself, I have recently retired from my position of Executive Headteacher at Drumbeat School and ASD Service, to take up a challenging but exciting part-time role with Bromley Borough Council, liaising with the families of vulnerable children who for one reason or another find themselves out of school.

Lastly, we send you the very warmest of wishes to yourself and family for a peaceful and loving Christmas.

Yours sincerely,

Dr. Vivian Hinchcliffe

Chairman of the Board of Trustees of The St Jude Foundation

Heri Special School, Mporoto, Tanzania

The Pupils

According to Safina Egha, the Headteacher of Heri Special School, there are currently 42 pupils using the school, 11 of the pupils are disabled (aged from 6 years to 18 years old) and 31 non-disabled.  As in the UK, it is a distinct advantage for disabled children to be taught alongside mainstream peers, particularly if the non-disabled children are younger, as is the case with Heri School.  The disabled children clearly have their own work pitched to meet their individual needs, but at other times they can benefit from being with mainstream children for subjects like Music, Art and PE.  Some of the disabled students are able to come to the school for their tuition and the others are visited at their homes by the Heri School staff.  Safina says that the school will be accepting some new disabled children this year, but unfortunately some parents are still choosing to keep their disabled children at home.  From the reports that Safina sends us, the school seems to be a vibrant, happy environment where everyone makes progress. 


If you received some of Mark’s earlier newsletters you may recall that in 2014, Heri Special School was visited by Tanzanian Government education inspectors. They suggested a number of improvements that should be made to the school and said that the official “registration” of the school would happen once these have been completed.  With the help of donations made to the St. Jude Foundation, we have been able to pay for a number of works at the school (see below). 

We are seeking further clarification from the Tanzanian High Commission in London about the status of Heri Special School and what levels of responsibility the Tanzanian Government currently has for it now and once official registration is given to the school.  Safina has explained to us that it is not the responsibility of the Tanzanian Government to financially support the school as they class it as an independent school.  Remember, the school was set up by Egha Egha and Mark as there was nowhere for disabled children to go to school in the Mporoto district.

During the course of 2015 the inspectors have been to visit the school again on 2 or 3 occasions and are happy with the work that has been done so far. Safina says they have encouraged her to carry out the other improvements that have been previously suggested, and that they have also made some new suggestions, all of which will be of obvious benefit to the teachers and pupils of Heri Special School.

Completed Works

So far, the work that has been requested by the inspectors and completed is as follows: new toilets have been built and water supply has been connected; hand-washing facilities have been installed; a walled fence has been built around the school; the doors in the school buildings have been re-fitted to open outwards; steel rods have been removed from the windows; facilities for wheelchair users have been provided in the toilets.

The school now functions with electricity, this means that the school has lighting in most areas, and it has a power supply for the school computer, and for charging mobile phones.

Necessary Works

As you would expect, Safina sends estimates for prospective works to the St. Jude Foundation.  The Management Committee (Neville, Dylan and myself) meets regularly to agree priorities for funding.  Photographs of completed works are also sent to us so we can see that the improvements are completed satisfactorily.

Safina tells us that the following improvements still need to be carried out:

·         levelling the ground and building a playground with swings, a slide, and sports equipment

·         fire extinguishers to be purchased and placed around the school

·         entrances to classrooms to be made wheelchair accessible

·         a covered way to be built from the school building to the toilets

·         planting, painting and basic repairs around the school

The total amount of funding required to complete these works is £2905. Please feel free to contact Dylan Roberts if you would like details of these costings.

Further Works

When there is enough money available, Safina is hoping to buy a bench-saw, 3 sewing machines, carpentry tools, and more desks and uniforms. She has recently sent photos showing that some of the ceilings have been damaged over the years by rainfall and will need repair.  So we can see, in terms of fund-raising for the forthcoming year, the St. Jude Foundation has its work cut out to support the excellent work of Heri School.

Proposed Visit

Dylan and I are hoping to visit Heri Special School in the next year to see how the improvements to the buildings and facilities are helping the children and staff, and to see what developments are still needed.  We are currently applying to several charities for a travel grant so that no money comes out of the St. Jude Foundation for the trip.  It is hoped that if a charitable sponsor can be found, they may continue to support the St. Jude Foundation in its important work.


Please have a look at the photographs which have been sent to us by Safina over the last year

Thank you for reading this report, and for your interest in the St. Jude Foundation and Heri Special School.

Dr. Vivian Hinchcliffe, Managing Trustee

A Letter from Dr. Vivian Hinchcliffe, Managing Trustee

As you may already know, Mark Roberts, the Founding Trustee of the St. Jude Foundation, passed away in February, just over one year ago.  Over the last twelve months it has become clear to us how much time Mark spent running the Foundation, and how hard he worked to raise money for the Heri Special School in Tanzania.  Several months before Mark died, he wrote to me to ask if I would be willing to continue the work that he had been doing to support the development of Heri Special School.  Without hesitation I replied that I would, and have now become the new Managing Trustee of the Foundation, working alongside Dylan (Mark’s nephew), and Neville (Mark’s brother), who is also a Trustee of the Foundation, and Jillian Orr, who has assisted Mark with the St. Jude Foundation for many years.  We have had several meetings throughout 2015 and have had regular communication with Safina Egha, the Headteacher of Heri Special School.

I have had a long association with the St. Jude Foundation and have been a Trustee since 2001.  I met Egha Egha, the founder Headteacher of the Heri Special School on his visit to the UK.  I understand the context and mission of the school and feel that I am qualified to support the work of the St. Jude Foundation as Managing Trustee.  I worked with Mark for many years.  As you probably know, Mark was Headteacher of Rectory Paddock School, a school for children with severe learning disabilities.  I first worked at Rectory Paddock as a teaching assistant in 1978 before I returned as a teacher in 1981.  In 1990 I went to teach at Brunel University, training teachers to work with children with severe learning disabilities.  I returned as Headteacher of Rectory Paddock when Mark retired in 1996 and spent the next 15 years building upon Mark’s inspirational work.  Mark was a great influence in my career and knew more about special education than anyone I knew.  In 2011 I moved to Lewisham to be Executive Headteacher of Drumbeat School and ASD Service, a new special school for children and young people with autism.

The core part of the St. Jude Foundation’s work is to support the work of the Heri Special School in Mporoto, Tanzania.  I have written a short report (see above) to update you about how some of the funds that have been raised have been used to make improvements to the school.

If anyone would like to contact me directly, my mobile number is 07973 674066.  We would be very keen to know what you think about the work of the St. Jude Foundation and any suggestions you may have about raising money for the Heri Special School. The address and phone number for the St. Jude Foundation have now changed. Please find the new details on our contact page.

Thank you for any support that you have provided to the St. Jude Foundation in the past.  Many thanks to Neville, Dylan and Jillian for maintaining the impetus of Mark’s valuable work.  It means a great deal to me to step into Mark’s shoes once again, like I did at Rectory Paddock School.

Best wishes for the New Year,

Dr Vivian Hinchcliffe,

Managing Trustee, The St. Jude Foundation

Mark Trevor Roberts MBE

Mark Roberts MBE

On the morning of 10th February 2015, Mark Roberts, the founding trustee of the St Jude Foundation, passed away peacefully in his sleep, at the age of 78. He was a teacher throughout his adult life and was the headmaster of Rectory Paddock School for handicapped children in Orpington, Kent. Although retired for many years, he gave his last lesson only 3 weeks ago.

Mark lived a life dedicated to others. His good deeds are too numerous to mention, but principally in later years he was responsible for helping to set up the Heri Special School in Mporoto, Tanzania. With the help of generous donations to the St Jude Foundation, the school has been built and equipped and today has some 40 pupils, both disabled and non-disabled.

It is our aim to continue supporting the Heri Special School over the coming years and to carry on the work that Mark started, we will provide further information about this as soon as possible. We would like to thank everyone who has supported the project so far and we would of course be very grateful for any donations towards Mark’s charity. Please click here for information about ways to donate.

If you would like to contact us about Mark or anything related to the St Jude Foundation, please use the following email address:

Yours Sincerely,

Neville Roberts, Dylan Roberts

Safina Egha & Registration of Heri School

Safina Egha

This has been a year of significant change for the Heri School. As you know, the founder of the school, Egha Egha, sadly died last March and has been succeeded by his daughter, Safina, who is dedicated to carrying on the work of the school in honour of her father’s memory. During the past year the Foundation has continued to support the school with a number of projects, including the building of a wall surrounding the school, and paying for repairs when severe rainfall caused subsidence close to the building. The Foundation also purchased a laptop for Safina and this has greatly improved our communication with her, especially as she can now email photos and videos. The Foundation supplements the salaries of the staff twice yearly and has recently donated money to purchase various teaching materials. Finally, in the past week, we have paid for the installation of additional toilets on the school premises.

The school was recently visited by Tanzanian Government education inspectors. They suggested a number of improvements which could be made to the school if and when funds permit. Sadly, they did not offer to supply any funds themselves! However, they “approved” the present uses of the buildings, which means that the school can legally continue to function as a special school. The further stage of official “registration” will be considered when the suggested improvements have been completed. One of these was the improvement to toilets, mentioned previously.  Another urgent aim is the provision of fire extinguishers. After that, we need a level, fenced playground for organised games and physical exercise;  this will be provided if and when funds permit.

As a result of the inspectors’ visit to the school, I am hoping to make contact with the department of education in the Tanzanian Government to see whether Heri School, now that it is built and functioning, can receive any government funding. In the meantime, it falls to the St Jude Foundation to provide what funds we can (supplemented by the fund-raising efforts of the school staff with their farm and shop). So, as always, donations are very welcome at any time. Thank you again for all your past generosity. I enclose some photos recently taken at Heri School.

With very best wishes for Christmas and the New Year,

Yours sincerely, Mark Roberts

Egha Egha

Safina & Egha

I have to give you some very sad news: Egha Egha, formerly Head Teacher of Heri Special School, has died. He had been ill for many months, firstly after being severely kicked by a cow (which his family kept to provide milk), and secondly when he developed pneumonia. We have to bear in mind that hospital facilities in Tanzania are very limited, and we can only guess at what quality of care he received. I have never known Egha’s exact age, but I estimate that he was in his early sixties.

Egha was a wonderful man and a true Christian: he was never concerned about his own well-being but only about the needs of his family and community, and especially about the needs of the children of Heri Special School, which he worked so hard to develop. It was a privilege for the St Jude Foundation to be able to help him in that work, thanks to the generosity of you and our other supporters.

Egha realized several months ago that, owing to his health problems, he would be unable to continue as Head Teacher and he therefore decided to retire. He wished to be succeeded by his elder daughter, Safina, who is 40 years old and a qualified and experienced teacher. Since 2010 she has been studying for a degree in special education. Safina was keen to take on the headship of Heri Special School and, after checking on her teaching experience and training, I agreed that our Foundation would be willing to continue helping the school under Safina’s leadership. I am sure she will have her own ideas regarding the future development of the school. Egha’s wife, Emma, and his younger daughter, Anna, (a qualified teacher and physiotherapist) will be continuing to work at the school. I attach a photo of Egha and Safina taken a few months ago.

So, despite the great sadness of losing Egha, the future of the school seems to be in good hands. The school will continue to need our support so, as always, donations will be gratefully received at any time.

With very best wishes for a happy Easter,

Yours Sincerely, Mark Roberts