19 May 2013 - THE SCHOOL of SAINT JUDE - Tanzania


G'day guys,

As always, I like to feature work done by extraordinary people and I will soon have posts on other Aussies who have left the 'lucky country' to serve abroad. Today I feature an interesting school, founded by the daughter of an Australian farmer, Gemma Sisia - The School of Saint Jude in Tanzania.

Gemma is the only daughter of Sue and Basil Rice. They raised their eight children on a fine wool sheep station just out of Armidale on the New England Tablelands, about a six-hour drive north of Sydney, NSW, Australia.

After completing secondary school as a boarder at St Vincent's College, Potts Point in Sydney, Gemma went on to obtain her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Melbourne, a Bachelor of Science with First Class Honours from Northern Territory University and a Graduate Diploma in Education from The University of New England.

Gemma and Gertrude - she was a loyal and loving friend 
whom Gemma lost when Gertrude passed away from AIDS.

At 22 years of age, with the passion and zeal inherited from her ancestor, Edmund Rice (founder of the Christian Brothers movement), Gemma set off to Africa to teach mathematics, science and sewing to girls in Kalungu, a rural village near Masaka township in the middle of Uganda, East Africa.

From this humble beginning, the East African Fund Incorporated was born and is now a registered Australian charity (No: CFN16123). With Gemma's unceasing energy, passion, dedication and enthusiasm for the projects of the East African Fund inspiring others, she was asked to speak at various Rotary Clubs in her local area. The word spread quickly and many individuals and members of schools, institutions, businesses, Inner Wheel and Rotary Clubs throughout Australia, pledged donations and assistance. People joyously helped with the collection and transportation of computers, library books, school books, teaching aids, classroom equipment, sports equipment, sewing machines, clothes and an endless list of goods that would see Gemma's dream of starting a school become a reality.

The classroom doors at The School of St Jude have been open for ten years now. As a charity-funded school, St Jude’s provides a free, high-quality education to over 1,500 of the poorest children of Arusha Region, Tanzania, while also providing boarding for over 1,000 students. Additionally, the school now provides employment to over 400 Tanzanians and purchases the essential goods required to run the school everyday from the local community. The ripple effect of these benefits on the community and beyond has been incredible.

I believe The School of St Jude is Africa’s largest private school offering high-quality education to the poorest of the poor and the only school in Africa achieving such outcomes on such a scale.

The school blends the best of Tanzanian and International instructional methods to promote critical thinking and high moral values. The children qualify by being incredibly bright and possess the potential of being responsible and dedicated leaders needed for the development of their country. Without St Jude’s assistance these children would possibly be facing destitute circumstances with poor employment prospects and no way of breaking the poverty cycle to help themselves, their family and their community.

Gemma and Richard 

It is only with thanks to generous sponsors, donors, supporters and international volunteers that St Jude’s can open its doors everyday and continue to fight poverty through education. Big thinking, plenty of passion, direct impact and loads of energy is what has made The School of St Jude a sustainable stand-out.
Students at Each Campus
Lower Primary Moshono Campus educates approximately 522 students from Prep to Class 3.

Upper Primary Moshono Campus educates approximately 534 students from Class 4 to 6.

Usa River Secondary Campus educates approximately 478 students from Form 1 to 4.

Moivaro boarding campus accommodates all Upper Primary students, from Sunday evening to Friday afternoon.

Usa River Boarding Campus accommodates all Secondary students during school term.

 Over the years Gemma has been very grateful to be recognised for her work at St Jude’s. She was awarded a Sapphire Paul Harris Fellow by Rotary International and her autobiography, St Jude’s, was published by Pan Macmillian Australia in 2007 and remained on the Best Sellers List for over two months. Also in 2007, Gemma’s achievements were honoured by an Order of Australia medal. Gemma’s story has been featured twice in the ABC TV documentary program Australian Story, in 2005 and a follow-up in 2009. 

In 2012 Gemma was named one of The Australian Financial Review and Westpac’s 100 Women of Influence, nominated in the Global category. She was also a finalist in New South Wales for Australian of the Year.

Clancy's comment: You have to admire those who commit themselves to the people of another land. Go, Gemma! Love ya work!


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