Three Beyond St Jude's (BSJ) dream teams headed out for their bi-annual tertiary visits where they visited more than 250 St Jude’s Tertiary scholars in 14 regions across Tanzania.
BSJ is an optional, yet popular, scholarship program for our secondary school graduates and is made up of two parts. The program enables our graduates to give back to their communities in an educational context through a Community Service placement and then provides them with the funding they need to go on to access higher education.
Through the Tertiary Program, Form 6 graduates (A Level) are supported in their first higher education qualification; whether that be a degree, diploma or certificate course. A BSJ tertiary scholarship supports the graduates to continue on this transformative path, helping to cover tuition fees, scholars’ accommodation, living expenses, study materials and costs of examinations.
The BSJ team provides year-round support to Tertiary scholars and visits them twice a year to check in on the scholars’ welfare, academic progress, health and provide any support they may need.
“This time around we did about 294 visits across Tanzania. I spent a lot of time in Dar es Salaam because almost 60% of our scholars are based there,” says Vivian, who oversees the entire BSJ team.
Vivian’s team who visited Dar es Salaam, Morogoro and Zanzibar further explains, “The first visit is to check up on the first year scholars who’ve just started university. The purpose of that is to make sure fees and accommodations are paid, registration has been done, and they are comfortably settling into their new academic journey.”
“The second visit is to check up on the continuing scholars so we can get updates on how they are faring, what are their prospective plans for field placements and also to check if they’ve changed accommodation,” Vivian clarifies.
BSJ currently has 294 tertiary scholars enrolled in higher education institutions across Tanzania, of whom about 89 are expected to graduate this November.
Sharing her highlight, Vivian says, “One of our scholars is an assistant lecturer teaching ICT. Currently, he has volunteered to fill the gap of a sick lecturer, teaching the class full-time until the lecturer returns, and a student at the same time. This says a lot about St Jude’s spirit of giving. Our students are learning the importance of giving back and you can see the ripple effect of the school is transcending beyond.”
Francis, who supervises BSJ Higher Education officers, was part of the team that visited scholars in Arusha, Dodoma, Kahama, Nzega, Shinyanga and Mwanza, regions in Northern and Central Tanzania. They spent 14 days on the road and covered over 2,500km.
“We travelled to six different regions visiting more than 20 scholars. Accessing some of the universities in these regions was a bit challenging. For example, Mwanza region is famously known as ‘The Rock City’ and it’s indeed very rocky. The roads were so rocky that cars could not get through and we had to walk up to 30mins at times to reach a scholar’s university” says Francis.
“These are my first tertiary visits and I was happy to see the scholars, especially the first-year scholars who are settled in and happy. Most of our scholars choose to live together and have a culture of helping each other. This gives me hope that they will be fine and are safe.”
“Some of the continuing scholars extended their helping hand by supporting the new scholars to settle in. This shows a lot of unity among St Jude’s community of scholars,” he adds.
Francis believes, that by visiting our scholars every year it helps to understand more about a scholar’s life.
Reiterating on how remote the areas are, Lulu, who provides administrative support to the BSJ team and scholars, says, “My team and I visited Moshi, Tanga, Singida, Iringa and Mbeya, that’s the Northern and Southern side of Tanzania… almost 4,000km of driving for 14 days! These places are beautiful, but getting to see the scholars was challenging. There are some places you have to take a Boda Boda (A motorcycle taxi in Kiswahili) to get to a university. All in all, it had to be done and we managed to visit all our scholars.”
“Some of our tertiary scholars are holding high positions in their universities such as ministers and high positions in their university governing bodies. For example, Albert, a third-year scholar at a university in Mbeya, is Prime Minister of his university but he’s looking forward to vying for the presidency in the upcoming university elections,” Lulu adds.
All in all, the three teams travelled over 8,000kms and visited 294 Tertiary scholars, with each team enduring an extremely tough but rewarding journey. The stories from the visits prove that St Jude’s scholars continue to lead and reach for their dreams, even beyond the school gates.
Support a St Jude's graduate through higher education and help educate the future, community-focused leaders of Tanzania.