Glenning Valley resident, Ms Monica Hart, was one of the many visitors at The School of St Jude’s fourth, Form 6 Graduation ceremonies on Saturday, May 26, in Arusha, Tanzania.
Ms Hart has been a sponsor at The School of St Jude for over 12 years and was at the graduation to see her academically gifted sponsor student, Erick, graduate.
According to UNICEF, in Tanzania, almost 70 per cent of children aged 14–17 years are not enrolled in secondary education, while a mere 3.2 per cent are enrolled for the final two years of schooling.
At the graduation, amidst the colourful and vibrant celebrations, speeches and traditional dance, Ms Hart took to the stage to say a word on behalf of all St Jude’s sponsors.
“You are a true example of what you can achieve when the opportunity presents itself,” Ms Hart proudly told the graduates.
“You have proved that you are all capable of applying yourselves and reaching the heights that were once so unattainable.
“You should always remember that we will always be by your side encouraging you, loving you as one of our own and taking delight in your future careers,” she said.
St Jude’s is a charity-funded school founded in 2002 by NSW humanitarian, Ms Gemma Sisia.
The School offers a free, high-quality education to over 1,800 students, and boarding to over 1,400 students.
With a predominantly Tanzanian staff and resources, and supplies bought locally, it injects over $4m Australian dollars into the local economy every year.
Unlike most schools, the students of St Jude’s are selected based on their academic potential and genuine financial need, often coming from families that live on less than US$1.90 a day.
“I first met Mama Gemma 20 years ago,” Ms Hart recalled.
“She told us of her dreams to build a school in Tanzania, such an unbelievable idea for one so young who was brought up in Australia and had no money to build a school.
“She faced many hurdles along the way but did she ever give up?
“No, she held her head up high and kept going.
“Where is she today; taking pride in all of you and knowing she has made a difference to so many lives, and has given a future to those who would never have had the opportunity that you have,” Ms Hart told the crowd.
Ms Hart played an integral role in the beginnings of the school.
After hearing Ms Sisia speak at a Rotary conference in Australia, she accompanied her fellow Erina Rotarians to Arusha and helped to build the School.
She then went on to become the chief Financial Coordinator for the School, processing charitable contributions on its behalf up until 2010.
“Monica played a massive role at the very beginning of the St Jude’s story”, Ms Sisia fondly recalls.
“She generously gave up a lot of time and effort, not only in physically building the school, but in managing and processing its Australian contributions,” she said.
After a year of great academic success for the class of 2018, almost all graduates have elected to take part in the optional Beyond St Jude’s program and undertake a Community Service Year before embarking on tertiary and further education.
Most will teach in government schools across the region as a means of giving thanks for their free, high quality education at St Jude’s.
“They are bringing to life the school’s mission of educating the moral and intellectual future leaders of Tanzania, and in turn are emulating the values and altruism of loyal supporters like Monica,” Ms Sisia concluded.
Media release, Jun 19
Dominie Brear, The School of St Jude