Bright-eyed seven-year-old Emanuel is a man of the people, as popular on the playgrounds of St Jude’s as he is among the adults in the school’s office.
“Everyone knows Emanuel because he comes into the office every day just to say hello and ask us how we are,” says St Jude’s Community Service team member Philomena.
The charismatic seven-year-old lives in one of Arusha’s busiest slums. His family home is a single room he shares with his parents and two siblings.
Their tiny home is surrounded by seven others, all full to the brim with families. There’s never a private moment, but Emanuel embraces the company.
“Emanuel is always helping out,” says his mother Miriam.
“He is always reading with his brother (Meshaki, 4) and sister (Janeth, 2) and he helps the neighbour kids with their English.”
Miriam and her husband Nemence want to provide a better life for their children but they will be unable to put all three school because they are stuck in casual, unskilled work that pays less than AUD$25 per week.
“Because I don’t have an education I can’t get a job that pays any money,” says Nemence, who, like his wife, did not attend high school. “There are a lot of people in this situation (unskilled workers) in Arusha and there is not much work.”
Children in Emanuel’s situation have very little chance of graduating in Tanzania, where the average person has only 5.11 years schooling and only 35% of secondary school-aged children are studying.
St Jude’s is helping by providing the poorest families, like Emanuel’s, a free high-quality education. Currently in Standard 1 (Grade 1), he will be given everything he needs to succeed at a school that has consistently ranked in the top 10% nationally.
“I want to become a doctor,” says Emanuel, who was ranked number one in his class in Swahili and Science. This dream would be impossible without St Jude’s.
“Going to St Jude’s means he can be whatever he wants to be,” says Nemence. “If he wants to become a doctor, he can become a doctor. If he wants to become a teacher, he can become a teacher. Because he has an education, he can get a job and he can help make life better for his brother and sister.”