History of the School
When 22 year old Australian, Gemma Rice, went to volunteer in East Africa for a few years, she witnessed first hand the results of people in the Third World caught in the tragic cycle of poverty, intensified by a lack of education. Crippling manual labour or a life of crime were, for many, the only means of survival.
Following years of volunteer work in Uganda and East Africa, Gemma returned home to rural Australia to a rewarding teaching job and a comfortable lifestyle, but never forgot the poverty and suffering she left behind in the country that still had her heart.
At some stage we may have said to ourselves, "Charity begins at home", as we've put the small change in our moneyboxes and felt justified in doing so. Gemma, now 24 years of age, saw it differently. With the powers of persuasion, honed by growing up with seven brothers, she easily convinced some of her friends and family members to pledge at least $5 a month, to be put into an account at the local bank, and the proceeds of which enabled 2 young women to go to school in Uganda.
From this humble beginning, the East African Fund Incorporated was born and is now a registered Australian charity (No: CFN16123). With Gemma's unceasing energy, passion, dedication and enthusiasm for the projects of the East African Fund inspiring others, she was asked to speak at various Rotary Clubs in her local area. The word spread quickly and many individuals and members of schools, institutions, businesses, Inner Wheel and Rotary Clubs throughout Australia, pledged donations and assistance. People joyously helped with the collection and transportation of computers, library books, school books, teaching aids, classroom equipment, sports equipment, sewing machines, clothes and an endless list of goods that would see Gemma's dream of starting a school become a reality.
A group of friends from Gemma's home district formed a volunteer team to help get up the very first classrooms. It was the first (of many) Rotary volunteer teams (even though half of the group were not Rotarians) and it was done in true pioneering style. Above is a picture of the result of "Day 1" of The School of St Jude's existence.
So in February 2002, Gemma founded The School of St Jude in Northern Tanzania, East Africa. The School of St Jude is owned by a registered Tanzanian company that is a "Company Limited by Guarantee and not having a Share Capital" called The School of St Jude Ltd (company # 47555). This company can not be bought or sold but rather only given to another similar not-for-profit company with similar objectives.
The School of St Jude opened its doors to three very small, bright and underprivileged students. We began with one teacher and a single classroom. Seven years later the school has grown to over 1300 students, spread across two amazing campuses and employes over 350 local staff. Each year new buildings are constructed to house the following years intake of students. This allows the oldest students to progress into the year above and will eventually see them all the way through to the end of secondary school.
The various sponsorship and donation schemes, which have been set up at the school, have allowed the dream of educating underprivileged children become a reality. The sponsorship of buses has allowed children, who would normally start walking at 4am, get a ride to school, and the sponsorship of teachers has allowed students to be taught by the best local Tanzanian teachers, who are being assisted by highly-qualified Western teachers. It is the ultimate blend of the positives of both cultures.