21 years ago, on 29 January 2002, The School of St Jude welcomed its very first class.
On that first day, there were just three students, taught by a single volunteer teacher, Angela Bailey.
Within weeks the school had grown, so that by 2003 there were 120 students.
Over the years, more students were granted scholarships, more land was purchased, more classrooms built, boarding houses opened and a second school started, then a third. Students graduated from primary school, then secondary and started university with the support of St Jude’s.
From humble beginnings, St Jude’s grew and grew, with the support of an international community of supporters. Today, St Jude’s educates 1,800 students, employs over 300 staff and supports more than 300 scholars at college and university.
In all the excitement and nerves of that first day in 2002, who could have predicted what St Jude’s would achieve by 2023?
“What makes a good board member?… interesting choice of question,” ponders Ms Bernadette, Chairperson for the Secondary School Board at Smith Campus.
Sitting on her porch, relaxed and poised, Ms Bernadette shares her experience.
“I’m a retired public officer. I worked as an education administrator in the government for 41 years and I believe with this background and experience, I have been privileged to chair the board at Smith Campus since 2017,” she says with a smile.
The School of St Jude complies with statutory requirement by operating under three boards; Primary School Committee for the registered primary school and Secondary School Board for each of the registered secondary schools at St Jude’s. These bodies are made up of staff, parents and local community representatives and professionals from different background.
“I remember I was one of the three people who cut the cake when Gemma first opened the school gates back in 2002. It was a really special day for me and especially for Gemma,” she chuckles.
“I was the District Education Officer then so oversaw many schools in my district and was excited to see a new school opening for our community,” she adds.
With a background in education, Ms Bernadette has been a great asset to the school, leading the board with passion, firm principles and making sure the school adheres to Tanzania education policy.
“My role as the St Jude’s Secondary Board Chairperson is to make sure that the meetings are held on time. We are supposed to have four meetings a year… two board meetings and two committee meetings,” Ms Bernadette explains.
“Some of the key points of discussion when we meet include secondary school systems,” Ms Bernadette explains,
“We make sure that systems are followed and run properly as we work towards our mission of giving bright, poor Tanzanian students a free, quality education so they can break the cycle of poverty in their communities,” she adds.
The Secondary School Board, of which Ms Bernadette is Chair, ensure that the school’s mission and policies are followed, and make recommendations in relation to Tanzanian Education Policy and ensure the enforcement of the Child Protection Policy to the Tanzania based board of non-governmental organisation (NGO) Directors overseeing the whole project. They also support the management and ensure that strategic goals are being achieved within specific timeframes.
The NGO Board then liaises with our international charity boards both in Australia (SOSJ Ltd Australia) and America (AFOSJ).
“What makes a good chairperson is attending board and other meetings on time and always thinking of the benefit you bring to the school.
“Any good leader must have a vision. You need to see where that vision is heading and walk towards that goal. And that’s what keeps me going to continue serving the board,” she adds.
Agreeing with Ms Bernadette is Professor Lucky, who serves as a board member for the Secondary School Board at Smith Campus. He believes any good leader must have a vision and must be able to empower the people working with them.
Being a finance and accounting expert, Professor Lucky advises and shares his financial knowledge with the school's management and board to ensure full financial compliance.
“My role as a board member is to advise the board on various issues, including financial matters, governance and leadership of the school,” says Professor Lucky.
Professor Lucky, who is also an author of various books about finance and accounting, believes a combination of skills is key in maintaining a good board.
“When you meet at board level, you’re multiple skills and experience give you the know-how to advice in different areas,” he advises.
Both Professor Lucky and Ms Bernadette have been active members of the Secondary School Board at Smith Campus for years and their stewardship together with other members of their board has set the direction in sustaining and achieving St Jude’s mission.
Difficult conversations about the important issues of elephant conservation were made a whole lot easier for St Jude’s ‘Tembo club’ recently, when elephants strayed into the school campus.
“We have a situation, there are some visitors at the school grounds, they’re elephants!”
These are the words the Head Guard of Smith Secondary Campus, Joseph, never thought he would relay to school management, but this year students and staff didn’t have to go on safari to get close to the majestic animals.
The herd had in fact entered the school through a gap in the boundary wall that had succumbed to last year’s heavy rains. The temporary wire fence put in its place while repairs are underway proved an easily conquerable obstacle to these determined, yet gentle, giants.
“I first heard the sound of elephants, or tembos as we call them in Swahili, trumpeting and went to investigate. They were peacefully moving through the campus, causing no damage. It seemed they were trying to get back to the nearby Arusha National Park,” Guard Joseph explained, his surprise evident.
Members of the St Jude’s Tembo Club, advocates for the conservation of the elephant and rhino, were among the curious crowd of spectators and played an important role in keeping students calm, while observing the endangered species.
“I was brushing my shoes ready for Sunday mass, and I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me! There is no way I am seeing elephants on campus I thought. Tembo Club members helped keep students at a safe distance and were able to answer questions because of what we have learnt through our involvement with the club,” Form 6 student and Tembo Club member, Kevin, recalled.
With the help of park rangers and nearby residents, the elephants were herded from campus and safely arrived in the National Park two days later.
From that day the unexpected visitors have sent the St Jude’s Tembo Club into the spotlight. 30 committed students, ranging from Form 2 to Form 6 have been hard at work raising awareness about the animals that sadly face extinction as targets of ivory poachers.
“I have a passion to volunteer and make society aware of these animals. Elephants have many advantages, they are a tourist attraction and that leads to employment and being proud of our country. Many elephants are wrongly killed as many people are in search of their tusks,” Tembo Club member, Nasra, shared.
Now, thanks to the continued support of American Friends of St Jude’s and contributions from the Elephant Cooperation, the Tembo Club is set to have its biggest year yet.
With guidance from teachers with a background in animal science and biodiversity, club members have an opportunity to learn about the animals as well as the complicated relationship that has evolved living in such close proximity to people.
“We were able to follow up on the elephants in this area and their habits and found that years back there were elephants who roamed the area we now call Smith Secondary Campus. Elephants are smart animals so we think these were actually tracing their ancestor’s routes,” Tembo Club teacher John clarified.
The roots of the club have even branched out to the community. Catherine and Christina, St Jude’s graduates now in their Community Service Year with the Beyond St Jude’s program, held a Tembo Club meeting at a local government school which more than 40 students attended.
“Some people think that conducting the ivory black market is a good thing because they can get furniture. It’s a disappointment that these views are still held even today. Poaching means we destroy natural resources that are beneficial to us. The elephants’ visit to Smith Secondary Campus has only reinforced the importance of Tembo Club to the community,” former Tembo Club President, Christina shared.
Meaning while the tembos may have left our secondary campus, the message of their conservation is travelling with them outside the school gates, helped along by a group of impassioned St Jude’s students, known as the Tembo Club.
Help our students explore their passions in extracurricular clubs by donating today.
To celebrate the new year, we’d like to thank some of our amazing fundraisers and advocates who are helping us change the lives of 1,800 students.
Keith and Tessa share the impact of Graduation Week 2017
The Sydney couple are long-time supporters of St Jude’s, sponsoring academic scholarships for two students. Last May, they attended the graduation ceremony for Faraja, who successfully completed Form 6.
Reaching out to local media to share the experience of their visit, the pair featured in an article published in Peninsula Living magazine’s November issue, distributed monthly to 87,000 homes.
“The sponsorship has allowed us to see the girls grow into impressive young women.”
“It [student sponsorship] is probably the best spent money we’ve ever put into anything,” Keith enthused.
If you host an event for St Jude’s or visit us, you can increase your impact by contacting newspapers, magazines, television and radio stations and tell them all about it.
To read the full article about Keith and Tessa’s time at St Jude’s, follow this link and flick to page 40:
Irish school students prepare for the trip of a lifetime
Later this year, St Jude’s will welcome 13 students from Dominican College Wicklow in Ireland.
The intrepid advocates are working hard to raise money, which they will donate to our school.
So far, they have hosted 12 unique fundraisers, some of which include: a sunrise hike with mountain-top yoga, a sports and science camp, a moonlit ball and a ‘Bob a’job’ campaign which sees them cleaning, painting, car-washing and lawn-mowing.
Additionally, the group is spreading the word through their Instagram page. Follow their fundraising journey at @tanzaniagroup2018, or, via their blog: http://www.dominicanwicklowatstjudes.com/
Rachael, one of the student fundraisers, is thrilled to join the fight against poverty!
"The School of St Jude is unlike any other. The School devotes everything to helping their students, and this is one of the reasons why we choose to support them. We all feel very honoured to be able to visit the school after our year of fundraising."
We can’t wait to meet these inspiring students at the end of 2018!
A Taste of the Big Apple at St Jude’s
Visiting a government school in Tanzania’s capital city, Dodoma, several years ago changed Joann’s life.
The engaging science teacher returned to her home in Woodstock, New York, eager to learn more about education in Tanzania.
Fortunately, curiosity led her to St Jude’s website.
Joann says she was inspired and determined to spread the word and sponsor a young student’s academic scholarship.
With friends, Richardson and Diane, plus two huge suitcases full of stationery in tow, she put smiles on the faces of everyone she met during a visit to St Jude’s in January.
“This school is unique. You can feel the burning passion of every member of staff, and each student’s palpable enthusiasm for learning.”
“This school beats with one heart. I can’t wait to go home and tell as many people as possible about the work being done at St Jude’s!”
The gifts Joann, Richardson and Diane brought to St Jude’s will benefit many of our students. Thank you, American friends!
Lyn’s Bridge of Hope
Annually since 2009, Lyn, an enthusiastic supporter from New South Wales, Australia, has hosted a bridge day luncheon with her friends, raising tens of thousands of dollars to fight poverty through education.
Lyn’s recent bridge day raised $6000.
“I visited the School and was so impressed with how efficiently it was run that I decided to fundraise when I arrived home to Australia,” Lyn said.
“It is satisfying to know that 1800 underprivileged children are being given the opportunity to receive an education and better their prospects in life.”
Lyn has a few simple words of advice for others wishing to fundraise for St Jude’s: “Find a favourable venue and advertise your event to people who you think would also be willing to support the cause!”
If you would like to host a fundraiser or event for St Jude’s, email our Donor Relations team at DonorRelations@schoolofstjude.co.tz.
For support with advertising, resources and/or sharing stories, contact the Marketing team at Marketing@schoolofstjude.co.tz. We look forward to hearing from you!
In 2015, the Beyond St Jude’s program launched its first Community Service Year. A handful of bold sponsors and 50 graduates put their trust in this new program, enabling The School of St Jude to venture into uncharted territory, with a vision of nurturing our graduates’ leadership potential and changing even more lives.
We knew from day one that Beyond St Jude’s was going to have an important impact on St Jude’s graduates, but we had no idea just how much they would help their communities flourish, and how much they personally would grow from the experience.
In its pilot year alone, our interns taught over 10,000 government school students!
In 2017, three years on, we have welcomed 117 new graduates into the program. As of today, we have positively impacted over 22,000 students in 80 schools in the Arusha district. The ripple effect is spreading far and wide!
The numbers tell one story, but the stories shared by Community Service Year interns tell a heart-warming personal tale of compassion and triumph against the odds.
Each intern who chose to teach during their Community Service Year enthusiastically rose to the occasion.
For most of their schooling, these young adults enjoyed a free, high-quality education at The School of St Jude. However, Beyond St Jude’s interns appreciate their privilege, and realise government school students aren’t always so fortunate.
Government schools in Tanzania are over-crowded and under-resourced. Our interns work tirelessly, teaching hundreds of students each day with great professionalism and empathy.
Some Community Service Year interns overcame monumental challenges. As the only mathematics teacher in his government school, Joseph became Head of Department, teaching 244 students in total!
“I feel very good doing community service. I am helping with the whole of my heart because I know how it feels to have nothing,” the brave leader said.
Joseph’s students also benefitted from his teaching abilities.
“He is a good teacher because he taught me new skills and knowledge. He has improved my study skills and confidence,” said Form 3 government school pupil, Elibariki.
Joseph comes from a rural area outside of Arusha. Aside from helping so many students, Joseph changed his family’s life. With the stipend he earned during his internship, he rebuilt his mother’s house and provided school uniform and books for his younger brother.
Beyond St Jude’s interns have their sights set on higher education upon completing their Community Service Year. Through Beyond St Jude’s, we have 66 Scholars studying everything from Education, Communications and Law, to Medicine, Engineering and Agriculture, in institutions across the country.
Thanks to the quality education they received at St Jude’s, our students are motivated to take their next steps into higher education. However, financial aid for post-secondary study in Tanzania is severely limited. Many high school graduates are not able to afford tuition fees, and government loans for disadvantaged graduates have decreased.
Currently, more than 40 Community Service Year interns and university scholars in our program remain unsponsored. Without a higher education, it is impossible for many St Jude’s graduates to reach their long-term dreams of becoming Tanzania’s future leaders.
The Beyond St Jude’s program is more than just an education sponsorship. It is the bridge between adolescence and adulthood for St Jude’s graduates, who are fighting poverty through education with support from donors and sponsors worldwide. Their lives have been changed, and now, they are changing the lives of others.
Support Beyond St Jude’s by becoming a sponsor or donating to our tertiary fund.
An air of promise and hope hung in the Sisia primary campus hall at our annual St Jude’s Day celebration on Friday October 27.
More than 2,000 staff, students, visitors and invited guests gathered excitedly to celebrate the feast day of our school’s namesake, St Jude, the patron saint of hopeless causes.
Students and staff from Smith secondary campus arrived at Moshono as early as 6.00am, in preparation for a day of festivities, friendship and food!
“St Jude’s Day is very important because everyone who belongs to the school community comes together to understand each other, to serve together, and we hope the mission of The School of St Jude will always be supported,” said George Stephen, our Primary School Headmaster.
With a vision to educate moral and intellectual leaders who radiate compassion, it comes as no surprise that St Jude’s Day is one of the most important events on the school calendar.
The celebration began with a mass, during which students generously brought forth gifts to be donated to disadvantaged members of the local community.
“It makes me very, very proud to see the students giving back. This is a real team effort,” George added.
Following mass, and a scrummy lunch of traditional Tanzanian cuisine, it was time for an afternoon of spectacular entertainment!
The audience cheered, laughed and shed tears of pride, watching students of all ages express profound gratitude for their education.
Sisia primary campus’s Head Girl, Faith, gave a particularly stirring vote of thanks during Class 6E’s cultural performance.
“This is a golden chance. A golden chance which we would not have otherwise had. This is the only school in Arusha providing free, quality education. There is no school like St Jude’s. This is the best place to be.”
Our visitors wholeheartedly agreed.
“This is such a happy occasion. You can see the students really value what they’ve achieved, and they want to give back. You can see how much it means to them to help others,” said Rita Harris, Secretary of the East African Fund Board.
One special guest, whose presence invigorated hundreds of students and staff, was former International Director and current East African Fund Board Director, Kim Saville.
Kim, alongside Angela Bailey, helped Gemma Sisia start The School of St Jude in 2002 and worked at the School until her official fit-for-a-queen sendoff in January this year.
“There are no words to describe what it means to be back today,” Kim said.
Eric, our Form 3 Young Scientist Tanzania winner, was thrilled to see Kim, who has been a mentor for him since he first started at St Jude’s.
“I am so, so happy to be here today. We are one family. Today, we celebrate, we sing and we give back.”
“Everyone is so talented.”
Festivities concluded with an emotional performance of the1985 hit-single, ‘We Are The World’.
Led by several business and academic staff with talented secondary students, the entire school community raised their voices in unison, proclaiming a commitment to fighting poverty through education.
We thank our generous supporters and sponsors for ensuring each student at St Jude’s has their ‘golden chance’ to be a beacon of hope in Tanzania.
The School of St Jude is anything but a hopeless cause.
You can ignite the flame of hope for a student in need by making a donation today.