After a year of talks, negotiations and planning, Umoja is excited to announce that as from the 3rd June 2019, we are the proud owners of a remarkable site and buildings for the new Umoja Centre.
The site is in an area known as Sinoni in the south west of Arusha City, approximately 7 kilometres from the town centre. This area is a semi-rural part of Arusha and is accessible from many parts of the city, making it a good choice for Umoja and our beneficiaries.
There are two sites which we will be developing. The main site (approximately 2.6 acres) will be where we will run the programmes and will include classrooms, offices, workshops, extra-curricular areas, gardens, sports ground, meeting spaces and more. The second site (approximately 2 acres) contains a large walled compound with various accommodation options, kitchen and gardens. Outside of this area is a farm area and cow sheds, which we can develop with future programmes.
The site and buildings were developed by Australian organisation, ‘FoodWaterShelter’, who aimed to improve the lives of the local community through a variety of social and educational programmes. The Founders and their supporters, built a site that has served the community for over 10 years and will continue to serve the community for many years to come. Unfortunately, there was not adequate funding and the majority of their programmes were phased out. In 2017, FWS actively began looking for partners to take over the properties and breathe new life into the site.
Umoja and FWS will continue to work together in partnership, with FWS able to focus on their core programmes which will run under Umoja’s management. The current activity is a pre-school programme, which we aim to continue in partnership with FWS.
The site was built with sustainability at heart, largely constructed out of wood with rain water harvesting, solar power and a permaculture garden. The core structure is still strong, however there is a great deal of maintenance and renovations required to transform the site into a functioning centre again.
We are working with Alexis Cronin, an architect in Arusha, to develop plans for this transformation, which will include turning an accommodation block into classrooms and offices. The plan will be in three phases, the first being work needed to be done so that we can move from our current rented property. The second phase will include new buildings, to allow enough educational space for our expanding programmes.
Umoja has gained the support of two Rotary Clubs overseas (Mont Albert and Surry Hills in Australia and Braunton Caen in the UK) who are working together to raise funds for Phase One. We are hoping to apply for a Global Grant with Rotary International to complete this work.
Thanks to the amazing generosity of Umoja’s supporters, in 2017 we purchased an area of land outside of the Arusha city for the purpose of building our own centre. This land is still owned by Umoja and currently has crops of beans and maize growing for the centre’s use. A new major road is being completed this year, the East Africa Highway, and as our land is close to that we have decided not to sell at this point in time, but to hold on to the land and sell when we will make a good profit. These funds will be put into development of the new site for Phases Two and Three.
This is an exciting time for Umoja as we have been dreaming of our own permanent centre for over ten years! We will share more news and plans as they develop.
If you would like to be involved, fundraise, donate, volunteer or have any questions about this project, please contact Caroline Goody, Co-Founder and Director of Umoja on [email protected]