A History of the Rafiki Thabo Foundation

A History of the Rafiki Thabo Foundation

Rafiki Thabo Foundation was established in 2006 and has gone from strength to strength ever since.

Rafiki Thabo was set up by Jon Uglow who, after having spent 8 months living in a rural community in Kenya – on a placement with the Right Hand Trust gap year organisation – realised that as he and his gap year peers all headed home to their university education and safe futures, his Kenyan friends just did not share the same opportunities, no matter how bright or driven they were. For the majority, affording an education and all the social and economic opportunities that it would bring was a remote possibility; their parents were subsistence farmers, they would be subsistence farmers. It was Jon’s passion to help change the outcome and break the poverty cycle – even for just a few – that resulted in Rafiki Thabo being set up, working closely with people he and his fellow trustees had lived with and got to know extremely well in Kenya, Uganda and Lesotho.

Rafiki Thabo was registered with the UK Charity Commission in 2007 (charity number 1118430). In its early years, Rafiki Thabo supported a handful of young people known to the trustees to continue with their education and also fundraised for the development of Fusi School in Lesotho, where Rafiki Thabo trustee Andy Uglow had worked during his gap year placement. The trustees also responded to particular needs within the community, for example funding vital medicines for people living with HIV/AIDS. As the work grew, the trustees recognised the need to work through an established voluntary committee in each country. These committees were, and remain, led by the personal contacts established during the gap year placements who are joined by other community leaders. Meet our trustees and committee members.

In 2014, the trustees recruited a paid Director, Janet, who has further grown and developed the charity. She was joined in 2017 by a Fundraiser, Janne. Along with the trustees, they have developed the programmes and increased the charity’s income significantly since those early days. Read more about our work.

Rafiki Thabo merged with Kazi Mingi Foundation (KMF) in 2015. KMF fundraised for the building of our partner school in Kenya, ACK St. Bartholomew’s School in Voi, provided scholarships to some of the boys at the school, and had close links with some of our committee members in Kenya. The trustees of KMF had reached the difficult decision to close the charity but were delighted that Rafiki Thabo was able to continue to support the school’s development and provide scholarships to some of its pupils.

We have recently merged with ACACIA UK, with ACACIA becoming our trading subsidiary. In order to facilitate the merger, Rafiki Thabo became a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) which meant a new charity number (1193124). ACACIA manages four charity shops in South Oxfordshire which raise money to fund our programmes. We have have been working in partnership with ACACIA since 2018 in order to expand our programmes to include children with disabilities. During a visit to Kenya in 2017, our committee told us of their desire to accept children with disabilities onto our programme: we were excited, therefore, when the trustees of ACACIA UK approached us to discuss pooling resources and working in partnership and are so pleased to have achieved a full merger. Read more about ACACIA’s history.


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