Even though the Federal government has brought down its axe on the Foreign Aid budget, thousands of Australians continue to provide much needed lifesaving support and building prospects for a brighter future for millions of the underprivileged around the world.
The School of St Jude in Tanzania, Africa, is among the hundreds of projects sponsored by non-government Australian aid and one of the most remarkable success stories.
The School of St Jude was founded in 2002 by a young woman from a sheep farm in New South Wales, Gemma Sisia, with three students, and today it is Africa’s largest charity-funded school providing over 1,600 of the brightest and poorest children around Arusha region with a free, high-quality education, and boarding facilities for over 1,000 of these students.
Over 94% of the school’s sponsorship income comes from Australia. During 2011, AU$6.2 million was contributed to run and further expand the school. Australian donations go towards sponsoring students, teachers, buses and boarding rooms. It has also helped buy water tanks, electrical lines, school buses and education material.
A two-man delegation from The St Jude School was on a four-week tour of Australia to thank their sponsors and to promote the school.
SALT Magazine caught up with one of the delegates, Felix Mollel, who is a Visitor Coordinator at the School of St Jude, during his visit to Canberra’s St Edmunds College – a sponsor of St Jude’s.
Asked why his team chose to visit Australia, Felix said “to meet and thank our wonderful sponsors and to report to them about the great work that’s being undertaken by our school through their generous effort and sponsorship”.
“Since our arrival four weeks ago my delegation has so far conducted about 40 presentations at schools and rotary clubs all around Australia; Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Canberra,” he said.
Enrolment at The School of St Jude’s is very competitive and is open only to children from disadvantaged background around Arusha, and every year 150 preparatory students are selected from this group.
The school works with orphanages to ensure the poorest children do not miss out on the opportunity to enroll at the school.
One of the challenges of the school, according to Felix is getting sponsors. “That is why every year the school sends delegates around the world to find new sponsors and to tell more people about the ‘Fight against poverty through education’ program,” he said. “Fortunately, we have a dedicated and effective international board that looks after the day-to-day running of the school.”
In the same vein, SALT Magazine also caught up with one of the individual Rotarians that sponsors St Jude’s.
Paul Street is a member of the Rotary Club of Canberra and is currently sponsoring two children. Every month, Paul said, he sends $500 to the school and even though more than 90% of sponsors of the school are Australians there is a very substantial benefactor base in the US.
Paul added that some of the challenges of the school include budget. He estimates between 5-6 million is needed to run the school a year. “Raising this amount every year is a major challenge in keeping the school revolving.”
Another challenge, is how to look after the students who graduate in 2015. “Will those students who continue on to university or technical colleges continue to receive sponsorship?” he asked.
To learn more about the St Jude School, please visit their website www.schoolofstjude.org