Posted by Ross Bay
In August 2014, Rotary Matamata received a letter from the School of St Jude in Tanzania thanking Rotarians for their sponsorship of one of the many school buses that are a vital part of the function of the school. The colourful letter expressed the joy the students have riding the bus and what life is like living at the school.
Rotarian Ross Bay was leaving for Kenya and Tanzania at the end of August so he took it on himself to visit the school and find the student who had written the letter. This is his report…
“It was great to visit the School of St Jude in Arusha, Tanzania again. My last visit 3 years previously had opened my eyes to what a great school it is, and this visit was no different. The School Visitor department welcomed us warmly and Aussie Nathan Taiaroa signed us in and offered to take us for a tour. Nathan has given up his accountant job in Australia, working for Earnst & Young, to spend a year volunteering at the St Judes.
When I explained why I was visiting, they were quickly able to identify which student had written the letter and at lunch time took me to visit Witness as she ate with her friends in the dining area.
Witness Jacob Kullaya is 14 years old and is in class 6E, in the upper primary school. She boards from Monday to Friday at the school and returns to her village at weekends. She has two younger sisters, and is delighted to have been selected to attend the School of St Jude. Her mum sells second hand clothes and her dad sells shoes, seeking to earn enough to support their family. They live in very humble conditions with very little chance of getting out of the poverty cycle. For Witness to be chosen to go to the School of St Jude is their family’s only chance of fighting poverty, through education.
Witness is a great student who wants one day to be a lawyer. She loves studying social science and mathematics, enjoys Gospel music, playing netball and running, and lists beans and rice as her favourite foods. It was a delight to meet this young lady and spend time with her at her school and in her classroom. Seeing what the School of St Jude is doing in the Arusha community makes me realise that her dreams have a strong chance of becoming reality. The small donation that the Rotary Matamata makes each year by supporting a school bus is part of a massive change happening in Tanzania because the School of St Jude is ‘Fighting Poverty through Education’.
It was a joy to meet up also with 2 IC Kim Saville, who spoke in Matamata earlier this year. Kim greeted the community of Matamata fondly and said how much she enjoys coming to visit this town. She issued a warm welcome to anyone from Matamata to come and visit the school and get their own first hand impressions of the difference that is being made in the lives of so many people. For myself, I look forward to my next visit and to see how the students are growing and learning. Maybe I will be able to return in May 2015 when the first 60 students graduate after 12 years of schooling. That will be a real celebration.
These 60 students will each take a gap year and volunteer in local government schools, teaching maths and science, skills that are sadly lacking in the government system. They will be given a small stipend to enable them to live, budget and plan, before being considered for tertiary training scholarships the following year. The best of them will then be able to study towards the careers of their choice, and make those dreams come true."
If you are interested in finding out more about the school then visit – you will be amazed by what is happening there and how you can be a part of it.