Time volunteering at The School of St. Jude

December 5, 2011 at 8:45 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Having now returned from my time in Africa during 2011, traveling and volunteering at the school of St. Jude in Arusha, Tanzania, I have had time to reflect on the experiences that I had. The School of St. Jude was started by an Australian woman, Gemma Sisia, in 2002. From humble beginnings the school now educates over 1500 students from the poorest communities around Arusha, under the motto of ‘Fighting Poverty Through Education’ and producing the future leaders of Tanzania. Each of the students are sponsored to receive a free education, that involves boarding from Year 4 through to the end of High School. They are implementing curriculum changes and so I used the opportunity to assist an amazing educational setting as a teacher mentor for four months of the time that I was away. All the teaching staff are local Tanzanian or East African teachers, with a few internationals volunteering as teacher mentors to assist them in the development of progressive curriculum and pedagogy. There are also about 40 volunteers who work in the administration office, and then so many sponsors, donors and friends of St. Jude’s around the world that allow the school to continue to provide an education to these deserving children. It was an inspiring time that I spent at the school, after following its journey from afar as a sponsor, to being apart of the successes and challenges that exist on a daily basis.

I have always been amazed at what can be achieved when individuals have a vision and then act to move towards their goals. Within this process many people realise that interdependence, through building relationships that utilise the passion, skills, gifts and talents of others to assist you on the journey of potential, can dramatically increase the positive sphere of influence that the individual is working within. I believe that the journey of The School of St. Jude is an excellent example of this, through Gemma’s vision and dedication to provide a vehicle for vulnerable children within Arusha to receive an education that allows them to break out of the cycle of poverty, with the support and assistance of so many from around the world to make the school what it is today. As Gemma and others who have been involved reflect on the evolution of St. Jude’s over the past ten years, it must be exciting to envision what opportunities might exist for these children once they graduate from St. Jude’s, that may not have existed before the school was founded. The admittance policy each year is for students that are from extremely poor families who demonstrate through testing an aptitude for learning. Great effort goes into testing and house checks to make sure these areas are fulfilled.

It really was a privilege to spend time volunteering at the school. Over the coming weeks I will share some of the experiences of my time working with the staff and students at St. Jude’s.

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