Live like a local in Tanzania

Founder of The School of St. Jude, Gemma Sisia, with students

A school in Arusha, Tanzania is changing lives by pulling people out of abject poverty in the country where 70 per cent of the population lives on less than $1.7 a day.

In 2002, Australian woman Gemma Sisia opened The School of St. Jude with three students and a big dream. Today the school is used an example of charitable education in Africa and features as one of the top 20 B&Bs in Arusha, the starting point of Tanzanian safaris and Mt Kilimanjaro expeditions.

The school offers a great opportunity for cultural immersion for travellers to Arusha, who can break journey in one of the basic accommodations on offer at the school before starting their safaris. Agents can earn commission from the school for organising these stays or even if they recommend a tour of the school to their guests who may be staying at other more luxurious properties.

St Jude’s has partnered with Four Points Sheraton, Arusha, for instance, where it picks guests from the hotel for a tour of the school, arranges home visits for guests if they would like to go into the villages and explore, and guests can also take part in the actual classes in the school – all free of charge.

Every year, St Jude’s offers academic scholarships to promising students through a fair and thorough process that ensures it fulfils its vision and mission. Their approach has always been different to child sponsorship agencies that financially support a child’s home life. They focus on education as a means to reducing poverty.

With support from an international family of sponsors, St Jude’s provides academic scholarships that help cover a student’s educational and boarding expenses including learning resources and classroom essentials, highly-qualified and well-resourced teachers, school uniforms, daily nutritious meals and clean water.

Sisia says: “We feed them, house them, educate them, and do everything possible to ensure our students’ wellbeing and future success. As a result, we have three campuses filled with happy and healthy children in a country where children frequently drop out of school.

“Together, we’ve seen 80 per cent of our graduates’ families overcome extreme poverty and together, we’ve seen our graduates emerge as role models in their community.”

Earlier this year, Sheikh Tariq bin Faisal Al Qassimi, founding president of the UAE Premier Lions Club, the first Lions Club in the UAE, and Gemma Sisia, founder of The School of St Jude in Arusha, Tanzania, announced their joint collaboration in fighting poverty through education.

Signing the MOU that made the school a special project of the Lions Clubs Middle East, Sheik Tariq confirmed the organisation’s commitment to providing women and girls with equal access to education, as per the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5, by pledging to assist in the drive to establish a girls only school in the East African country.