Six years ago, Eva’s face beamed from the cover of our school founder Gemma Sisia’s autobiography, titled ‘St Jude’s.’ Eva was a young girl who was still realising her dreams. She epitomised the happy, bright-eyed child at St Jude’s who is overjoyed about getting a free, high quality education. Now she has grown and is developing into a well-adjusted, young adult. She is in Form 1 and has big aspirations, with a world of possibilities in front of her. This is her story.
Eva started at St Jude’s in 2006, when the school was four years old and we had just over 600 students and around 115 staff.
Eva’s family includes her father, John, mother, Penina, and younger brothers Richard and Benjamin. They live in a two-room brick home. Like many other Tanzanian dwellings, it has no plumbing (water is collected from a neighbourhood tap for a small monthly fee) and meals are prepared over a charcoal- or kerosene-fuelled stove.
To support the family, Eva’s father finds work where he can as a carpenter and a mason. Her mother works at their home as a tailor. They are big supporters of Eva’s education and encourage her to continue learning in the hope that one day she will have qualifications and a successful career so she can break the cycle of poverty for herself, help them and her community.
Eva showed promise as a student at a young age. As a child, she would often ask her parents to send her to a school which would enable her to learn English. “I wanted to learn English because I knew in this world of today that I needed it and I strived to get a high quality education as I wanted to have a bright future,” said Eva.
She grew up playing with her younger brother and their games would regularly revolve around learning. “There was one game where we liked to draw and the first one to finish was the winner. The aim of it was that you drew things, like an egg and you also wrote the name of it in English. So, I always liked to play games where I could learn new words.”
Before St Jude’s, Eva attended a government school where nearly all of her subjects were in Swahili. It was a limited learning environment where she felt she was not able to reach her full potential. She remembers hearing about St Jude’s at her old school and then soon applied.
It was a turning point in her life. After passing the relevant checks, she was accepted and began a new chapter of her life. “When I found out I was going to St Jude’s, I thought it was amazing and I was very happy. It meant a lot to me,” said Eva.
Since then she has reached a number of milestones. She successfully completed her seven years of primary schooling, has begun high school and has impressively scored A’s in almost all of her subjects. She also boards at the school’s Smith campus which is preparing her to be a strong, independent individual.
Eva’s life has been transformed because of her education. She has sponsors in Australia and is acutely aware that their support has enabled her to have clean uniforms, a place to board, fresh, nutritional food, committed teachers and access to state-of-the-art ICT laboratories and well-stocked libraries.
Research supports the assertion that sponsorship can make a huge difference in a child’s life. Bruce Wydick, an economist from the University of San Francisco, carried out a study in six countries over three continents, including in Uganda and Kenya. He and his team studied more than 10-thousand individuals who had been sponsored in the 1980s. The overall result was that student sponsorship works and that 50 to 80 per cent are more likely to complete a university education.
“By sponsoring a child at St Jude’s you will change the life of that child, their family, their community and contribute to changing their country,” says St Jude’s School Director, John Ford. “The evidence and the economics say it works and if you visit the school you can see it for yourself. What better way is there of using your money?”
Eva, the little girl that shyly took her first steps through the St Jude’s gates seven years ago, has grown into a happy, confident young adult. She is like any other teenager who enjoys spending time with her friends and playing card games. In a few years, Eva plans to head to university to study engineering and work in Tanzania. Like the young girl on the cover of St Jude’s, she is optimistic, loves life, has the world at her feet and is ready to embrace it.