Over the past 17 years, word that St Jude’s is creating the future leaders of Tanzania through a free, quality education has spread far and wide.
It even reached the tiny office of the Headmaster of Masabeda Secondary School, an under-resourced government school in a remote area of the Manyara region.
Mr Sherwia has been the only secondary school Headmaster in a village, where most families live on less that AU$2.5 a day, for more than a decade and was so impressed with St Jude’s that he became determined to do everything he could to help his students sit the St Jude’s entrance examinations.
Aware that most of his cleverest students’ families were unable to help their children make the long journey to the St Jude’s Selection Day, the big-hearted Headmaster decided to step-in with a touching selfless act. Taking it upon himself, he organised for a bus to take his students all the way from Manyara to Arusha, a journey that takes over five hours.
“I knew these students could really succeed if they were given more opportunities. Unfortunately, we cannot provide what St Jude’s do and these students have the talents to make the most of the quality education St Jude’s offers. The school should be very proud of what they do and the resources. St Jude’s actually have enough teachers for each subject and a library filled with books, which means everything to the families in my community who cannot afford the bare basics,” Mr Sherwia explained while visiting St Jude’s Secondary Campus.
His assistance has certainly paid off. At the start of the school term, Mr Sherwia travelled from the village with three of his former students so he was there to witness their first day at St Jude’s after they were selected to join the new Form 5 cohort last month.
Among the trio is aspiring doctor Editha, who beamed with pride wearing her crisp, brand new uniform.
“I feel very smart and I am already feeling at home in the boarding house. I can see why Mr Sherwia encouraged us to strive to get here. He held tests for students that helped us to do well. I would really love to thank him for the support he has given us all along because he has impacted our lives and now we are sure that we are in a good position and heading to achieving our dreams,” Editha smiled.
Spending her first night in the St Jude’s boarding house was also a highlight for fellow new Form 5 student, Pendaeli, who previously slept on a cow skin on the floor of her mud-hut home.
“My family have always wished so much for me, now that is finally coming true. I am already making friends in the boarding house and I hope to learn new things about myself. Not having to walk an hour to school and having a comfortable place to sleep will give me more time and energy to study,” Pendaeli said quietly.
The new students will also have the support of Form 6 student, Febronia who was selected last year as the first student from Masabeda Secondary School.
“I love being able to use a computer and having a quiet place to study. I have enjoyed participating in extracurricular activities and I am so happy more students from my area can now have that too. It all started with Mr Sherwia,” Febronia reflected.
The 20-year-old has improved her marks by 30% since joining St Jude’s a year ago.
“I have noticed many improvements in Febronia since she joined St Jude’s, she has more confidence and can express herself well,” Mr Sherwia added, having caught up with Febronia on his recent visit.
Mr Sherwia hopes that Febronia, Editha, Pendali and Jeniva are just the start of many more students to successfully secure a St Jude’s academic scholarship. He is determined to continue to provide assistance in whatever way he can so that more students from his rural community have the opportunity to become future leaders.
“I am so proud of the students that have been selected and I can rest easy that they will be looked after by the St Jude’s community. I hope more students will be selected in years to come as I think St Jude’s represents a good turning point for Tanzania’s education sector,” Mr Sherwin smiled.
You can help these new Form 5 students, including those from Masabeda Secondary School, whose academic scholarships are currently unsponsored. Sign up to sponsor today!
Standing in front of his community leaders, elders, parents and peers with a strong message about eliminating early marriage from his village, St Jude’s graduate, Lomnyack, epitomises a leader driving change.
Whilst home on his holidays from university, where he is studying Civil Engineering, he called a community seminar to raise awareness about the importance of education and the long-term benefits of keeping girls in school, not just for themselves but their family and community too.
Lomnyack has had every chance to excel with his free, quality, St Jude’s education, but the story is very different for many in his remote Maasai village, Engalaoni. Only 50% of children there started secondary school in 2019, much fewer will complete it and only a handful have made it into higher education.
The situation for girls is even worse, only half the number girls will finish Form 4 compared to boys. These statistics prompted Lomnyack, as part of the Community Action project he is undertaking as part of the university scholarship he got because of his St Jude’s education, to find out why.
“After my initial research, I found early marriage is a big problem facing the community. When I was in secondary school at St Jude’s there were only five students left in my year level in the government school in my village. While I am at university I am always thinking back to my community. With my strategy for this project I think our team can help have early marriage eliminated in five years,” Lomnyack said confidently.
Lomnyack has enlisted the help of current Form 6 St Jude’s student, Lotoishe, and other young men from Engalaoni village to stand in solidarity against the issue.
“Girls aren’t the only ones responsible so it is important, as young men, to stop this. I learnt at St Jude’s that girls are passionate to study but it is often the men that are stopping them. In the seminar, there were four girls who have refused at least four marriages each and they came to us. When I started the project there was a lot of resistance, not everyone was accepting what I was trying to tell them. I used my St Jude’s journey as an example of why education is important,” Lomnyack explained.
The community seminar was just the first step in Lomnyack’s project, his team also plans to visit each family where child marriage has been raised as an issue to help educate them on the benefits of keeping girls in school. Then, with the support of the village leaders, Lomnyack will look to implement a local law against early marriage. It’s unprecedented progress for the remote Maasai village and Lomnyack credits St Jude’s for developing his leadership skills.
“Going to St Jude’s has made me a leader. Before the school I was passionate about changing my community but I didn’t know how. My leadership grew because I got to mix with different visitors and professionals from all over the world and it changed my mindset. Our Maasai village can lead the way and spread the message. Through the seminar I have developed a very strong team of young people and, together with my fellow St Jude’s graduates, in the future we can join together and say no! No towards bad practices in the community,” Lomnyack said passionately, looking out over his village.
St Jude’s aim is to develop community-focused leaders who can challenge the status quo and find solutions to drive change for their families and the millions of Tanzanians living in poverty. Now, as the 500+ graduates start to forge their own path after St Jude’s, their actions are showing that this hope is becoming a reality.
As Lomnyack mentors those that have been directly affected by the poor quality of education in his village, there is a feeling this may only be the start for this St Jude’s graduate and future leader.
“I want young women to have a future plan, not just getting married. I can see a lot of resistance but I hope to make a difference. Even 50% success is enough to make change in the future,” Lomnyack reflected.
Will you join our impressive St Jude’s alumni in giving back? Empower young leaders to fight poverty through education and make a donation to St Jude’s.
Among the steady hum of sewing machines, a group of hardworking tailors are busy making the thousands of uniforms needed to clothe The School of St Jude students each year.
The uniform is an important part of starting school life at St Jude’s and receiving it is often when it truly becomes a reality for new students that they’re about to begin their journey with a nation-leading school.
Seeing the new students wearing her work is the highlight for tailor Miriam. Being employed by St Jude’s has meant she can afford for her daughter to continue her schooling, something Miriam sees as a necessity in a country where girls’ education is not prioritised.
“My daughter has reached Form 3 and I am happy that I can support her as she goes onto higher levels of education and have the opportunity to achieve the career she wants,” Miriam shared, while industrially sewing her way through the 40 rolls of fabric needed for St Jude’s secondary students’ school uniforms.
As a working mum, Miriam is passionate about having more educated mums in Tanzania.
“Families can improve their situation if women have the skills and education to have greater independence and earn more money,” Miriam explained.
With this belief, Miriam is excited to be given a new workload, making more uniforms than ever for the new secondary school for girls set to open in January next year. The reconfiguring of current facilities will mean that in future years even more graduates will be donning the school colours.
“We are happy to have the extra work as it means more students are getting an opportunity to enjoy this free education. We might even need some more tailors, which means more secure jobs for the community,” Miriam smiled.
Having a secure job has also had a hugely positive impact on tailor, Daudi, who has worked at the school for seven years.
“I have been able to build a house for my children, put them through school and buy them textbooks. Their uniforms aren’t as good as my work though,” Daudi joked.
Daudi and the team have been carefully piecing together over 5,500 uniforms each year, which includes boarding, school and PE uniforms for new students and replacement uniforms as current students get older.
“Yes it’s a big job but we have great morale in our team. I look forward to coming to work each day and I love hearing about the students that have worn our uniforms for years finally graduating and going on to higher education,” Daudi smiled, looking over at his fellow tailors.
As the students and school continue to grow, each uniform continues to be made in-house, reminding every student that their free, quality education is due to the generosity of St Jude’s international family of supporters.
Our school uniforms instil pride and fellowship in our students. Donate today to help keep our students in uniform and our tailors in thread.