Kevin first visited The School of St Jude with his wife, Mary Beth, in 2004, when only a few dozen students were enrolled. They had met Gemma’s brother, Dan, on safari in South Africa, who informed them of his sister’s dream. The young couple, intent on pursuing their own shared dream to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, decided to pay St Jude’s a visit during their stay in Arusha.
It was a visit that changed their life, and later on, the life of Musa, who was then a brand new student at The School of St Jude.
During a recent return visit to St Jude’s, Kevin was reunited with Musa and his family, who had the opportunity to express their gratitude to Kevin and Mary Beth for their support that has enabled him to graduate from high school. Currently, Musa is voluntarily teaching mathematics at a government school in Moshono.
Making the most of it: Musa, currently teaching in a government school, is grateful to Kevin and his family for their support.
“Before this visit to St Jude’s, I had never even heard the man’s [Musa’s] voice, it was amazing. He knew exactly who I was, I knew who he was, and this is after more than a decade of correspondence by letters. The whole experience of meeting him as an adult blew my mind,” Kevin said.
“I had the opportunity to visit Musa’s home… I had no idea what to expect, but kept an open mind. Musa’s family were warm and welcoming, they gifted me with a rooster, prepared me food, and heaped thanks upon me for helping their son to receive an education.”
“Through sponsorship, we have affected areas of Musa’s life we never imagined. They live very modestly but had previously been exceptionally poor. Because we were paying for Musa’s education, the family saved enough money to build a home,” he added.
Back in the day: Kevin, in 2004, cooking outside the then visitor house – now our Purchasing office!
Kevin was wildly impressed with the development of St Jude’s since his visit 14 years ago, and especially, the inception of a Community Service Year program.
“It’s important for Mary Beth and I to continue supporting Musa’s scholarship into his Community Service Year, because I’m aware that people can be given a great education through high school and when it’s over, they have no integration. This is a brilliant part of Gemma’s master plan, because these graduates have fertile ground to grow from rather than being left on cold pavement outside the door.”
“A highlight from this visit was hearing Musa talk about the students he teaches in the government school. He has four classes and teaches 200 students a day. He can do this because of the education he received at St Jude’s. Musa wants to study Wildlife Management and this experience helps him apply leadership skills. It’s on-the-job training; the apron string is not totally cut, and these young leaders have the chance to function in an administrative body rather than only receive from it.” Kevin enthused.
Kevin believes the success and growth of Beyond St Jude’s reflects the booming developments at St Jude’s over the past 16 years.
“There have been many small changes which culminate in huge change. When Mary Beth and I first came here, Angela was one of the only teachers, and now she is Deputy Director. The School only had two small vans for transport, and now there’s an entire bus fleet. I have visited 70 countries and have only met a few people who can execute a vision with as much passion, talent and selflessness as Gemma Sisia,” Kevin acknowledged.
Strong ties: Kevin was blown away by progress made at St Jude’s since he first met Gemma 12 years ago.
By continuing to sponsor Musa through his Community Service Year, Kevin and his family make it possible for hundreds of government school students to have a teacher for one of their major subjects. In turn, they are helping Musa to obtain professional skills which will help him pursue his dream job in Wildlife Management; a key economic sector in Tanzania.
“We are shaping and educating kids, allowing kids to go and be leaders. To shape their society. This is why I want to keep sponsoring. It’s allowing things to blossom, things that naturally grow, when you pull the weeds back and let it happen.”