Who We Are

John de Ronde — Director


Currently swinging between London and Tanzania, I came to Tanzania originally on a Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) expedition in September 2007. I was assigned to the Marangu Teachers Training College, perched on the slopes of Kilimanjaro, to train staff on the use of ICT in Education. Marangu TTC is just down the road from where Frank was working so it was then that our paths crossed.

While working within the VSO placement I became acquainted with the village of Lyamungo Sinde through a colleague at the college. I was introduced to the secretary of the village committee, one Bibi Elinaike Lema, who outlined the problems facing the village, including the 172 orphans and vulnerable children she had documented.

Introduced to the then pastor Nixon Kowero of the Lutheran congregation who verified Bibi’s data and who was already helping some of the children, I decided to set up ABCDreams (UK) with the help of my friend Frank in Canada. He suggested I use his model for our constitution. I worked in partnership with the pastor who guided my projects and eased my way into the community. Since setting up ABCDreams (UK) I have worked to establish contacts and a network in the UK to support the vulnerable children of Lyamungo Sinde.

ABCDreams (UK) Children

In our first year of operation, 2013, we supported 65 primary school children in 3 local schools. This figure has stayed quite constant at primary level. This year (2020) we support 71 children. In 2013 funds would not allow full support so we whittled the number down to the most vulnerable. Since then many of the children we started with are now at secondary school where we continue to provide support. The total number of children hovers around 100 year-on-year.

More information will be added to this page as more people come on board ABCD: Art Building Children’s Dreams (UK).

Our History

In 2007, Frank Smith, a retired secondary school visual arts teacher and artist in Toronto, Canada, travelled to Tanzania as part of a Rotary International group, helping to repopulate a local hospital with medical equipment donated in Canada. At the same time Frank couldn’t help but notice the problems being faced by local children of school age who in many cases were being cared for by relatives, having lost one or both parents to HIV/AIDS. He was particularly moved because these children were often unable to attend school due to poverty.

Frank returned to Tanzania in early 2008 with a vision and with Rotarian Lynn Bird. Their aim was to get local children to create art that would describe their dreams for the future. Frank went back to Canada and set up ABCDreams Canada, registered there as a charity. Thirty children took part in the initial project in the Kilema and Marangu West area at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro. In every case the children wanted to finish school to become doctors, teachers, nurses, bus drivers, store owners and farmers. They all had dreams of helping themselves, their families and the community.


In 2009, Ken Wall introduced the ABCDreams vision and concept to friends and colleagues in Australia, and through the Rotary Club of Templestowe, Melbourne, Australia, ABCD: Art Building Children’s Dreams (Australia) was born. ABCD Australia is now an international project of the Rotary Club of Mount Martha, Mornington. ABCD Australia has launched projects in Fiji, Malawi, South Africa and Sri Lanka, extending their support far and wide.


Following the inspiration of Frank Smith and Ken Wall, John de Ronde created ABCD: Art Building Children’s Dreams (UK) as a small charity registered for tax purposes with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), reg. no. XT38573. His aim was to raise funds for the community of Lyamungo Sinde, about 30 kilometers from Marangu West to help the orphans and otherwise vulnerable children stay in school. Traditionally, children’s parents who were unable to meet the demand for school fees saw their children sent home until they could pay.

His vision in the village is to set up a fund for the orphans, to help children from the very poorest families go to school by paying supplementary school fees, supplying books and uniforms and even food if necessary through a subsidised school lunch programme. He would also like to provide a post-primary training facility for them so they might learn a trade.

Our aim is to replicate the ABCD projects as far and as wide as possible, so that more and more children around the world can afford the education that could provide the key to their future – and the future of their families and communities.

Working on their paintings to be sold in London