The greatest gift our new buddy, Chris, brought to St Jude’s was his magnetic presence.
Chris’s passion for fighting poverty through education shone through smiling eyes and a radiant grin.
The family-man from Indiana had never been to Africa, but Chris was right at home from the moment he landed on St Jude’s doorstep. It was a two week trip that changed his life.
“I read a quote about Africa once that said something like, ‘the simplicity and the complexity of the culture, the interactions you have, will draw you in and get inside you, and not let you go. You’ll always want to go back.’
That is absolutely true,” Chris said.
“I looked at the website before getting here and thought, ‘this is a unique school, it’s something I’d like to see, understand and experience.’ It grows on you,” he shared.
“It’s just amazing. This was one person’s dream for kids in Tanzania, funded by people in another country, and now by people around the world — including the Unites States! Unbelievable.”
“You see students here that are extremely happy: drumming in music class, dancing, smiling… being 100% present and confident in themselves. Being able to touch a part of their life is fantastic,” he enthused.
A visit to a student’s home opened Chris’s eyes to reality beyond St Jude's blue-and-gold gates.
“To really understand it, you have to experience it. You only get a snapshot, but what it’s really about is an exchange of ideas and finding common ground,” he said.
“I asked the student’s grandmother how she made the tea she was serving. She showed me some grass the family grows outside. It looked just like prairie grass! It was a really great thing!”
“I kept thinking about going home and growing the same stuff. Then, the whole family started laughing at my friend who didn’t want sugar in his tea! It was awesome,” Chris laughed.
As a teacher, Chris appreciates the role of education in guiding young people towards a future of joy and prosperity.
“St Jude’s has had three graduating classes. I’d say the next 10 years will be really interesting. We’ll be able to see how the graduates progress through college and in their lives. So many will flourish as Tanzania’s leaders!” Chris predicted.
Chris plans to keep his flame of inspiration burning brightly, and share it with students in the States.
“I can’t wait to show them pictures and say, ‘we’ve got a lot to learn from St Jude’s. Don’t look at these students as if they don’t have much. In some ways, they have more than you – they understand so much about life.’”
“St Jude’s students are growing their own food! They wash their own clothes. They are inventive. They take responsibility. To think of where they’ve come from is mind-blowing.”
Although his visit is over, this is the beginning of a long-time friendship between Chris and St Jude’s.
“It’s just like that quote I read; yes, my shoes are dirty. My hair has dust in it.
Tanzania is stuck under my skin. I’d come back here in the snap of a finger. It doesn’t get any better than this.”
Our students and staff love welcoming visitors. What are you waiting for? Come and see St Jude’s in action!