Tanzanian immersion – The School of St Jude

Posted on May 8, 2017

Over the Easter break 18 students from Years 10 and 12 travelled to Tanzania for what was undoubtedly a life-changing trip for each of them. The students visited The School of St Jude, a school established by Australian Gemma Sisia with the aim of fighting poverty in Tanzania by providing a free, high-quality education to the poorest of the poor.

The immersion provided countless remarkable and enriching experiences for the Joe boys, with numerous opportunities to gain a unique insight into the daily life of the Tanzanian people. Highlights included:

  • Visiting St Jude’s and getting to know the students and the people of Tanzania;
  • The Samaritan Orphanage, which provides a home for more than 50 Tanzanian orphans;
  • A traditional Maasai Boma village and meeting a family with a man and his seven wives and fifty-one children;
  • Being welcomed into the homes of several St Jude’s students to meet their families and witness first-hand the poverty they live in. This provided a wonderful opportunity to witness the parents’ pride and joy at having a child at St Jude’s.
  • Trips to Ngorongoro Crater and Lake Manyara.

From the boys…

“Through this Immersion I came to understand St Jude’s mission ‘To Fight Poverty through Education’. The work done at the school is truly amazing. We quickly learned how vital education is in an underdeveloped country. It is the most powerful key to breaking the cycle of poverty.” Daniel Coffey (Y12)

“The trip was about immersing yourself and seeing life through the eyes of the people of Tanzania. We were able to meet with the families of the students and hear about the impact St Jude has had on them. My favourite part of the trip was playing the didgeridoo in front of the school and how the kids laughed. I felt most challenged when we went to the orphanage. Just seeing all the children who have been abandoned by their parents made my heart drop. In every experience that you have there is always a lesson to be learned and the biggest one for me was to live your life to the fullest and don’t complain about whatever you get. Be grateful and realise there are so many people who live with hardly anything.” Russell Moran (Y12)

“The Immersion to St Jude’s was a reflective period of time where I learned to understand what people in other parts of the world have to deal with…unclean water, little food, no electricity and most importantly, no education. The role of St Jude’s is to educate those rich in mind but poor in wealth. The idea of giving these students a free, top quality education is heart-warming.” Jack Morgan (Y10)

“For me, this immersion was about witnessing the very different lives of the Tanzanian people and how their lives contrast to ours. It made me sit back and reflect on what I consider to be big problems in my life, which are minimal in comparison to the problems faced by the people of Tanzania. Yet they are exceptionally cheerful and happy with the simple lives they lead. This trip has demonstrated that people can find joy in making the most of their opportunities. Exchanging information with the Maasai people has made me more respectful and less ignorant of other cultures and it was phenomenal to see how proud the father of a student of St Jude’s was about his son’s education at St Jude’s during our home visit.” William Johnson (Y12)

“This Immersion has taught me not to take things for granted. The highlights were visiting the orphanage and playing with the kids and also going on the safari which was an amazing experience. I learned to appreciate a hell of a lot about the sacrifice my parents are making to send me to Joeys.” Adam Lunn (Y10)

“On this immersion we witnessed poverty first hand and also got to see that even the smallest amount we give is a big help to them. One of the best experiences was going on home visits. I was able to visit the home of my parent’s sponsor child, Hassan. The School of St Jude completely inspires me. Gemma was a young girl when she started the school and yet she was able to accomplish her goal by creating this school which has not only personally affected many kids lives, but will also help Tanzania to evolve into a country in which the poverty levels will decrease rapidly.” Andrew O’Sullivan (Y12)

“I have realised that it doesn’t matter how much you own, you can be happy if you are surrounded by people you love and who also care about you. My trip has inspired me to return to Tanzania as soon as the opportunity arises and to make sure that Gemma Sisia’s story and the school, its students, and the challenges they face are known by my family, friends and anyone else who may be interested.” Thomas Small (Y12)

“This trip gave us the opportunity to challenge our perspective on life and it showed me that simple things in life are important. The highlight of the trip was in the library, both barcoding books and reading to the students as it was the first opportunity we had to give back to the school for giving us the opportunity to experience a new culture.” Lucas Crott (Y12)

“This trip was an opportunity to escape the bubble of privilege we all too often find ourselves in. It allowed us to broaden our horizons and to see first-hand the selfless work that many people devote their lives to. It provided us with an opportunity to form new friendships and for cultures to be exchanged. I was amazed at the unparalleled happiness these people possess, despite their simple lives and it has made me understand the important role of social work in the world as having the potential to be life changing.” James Wall (Y12)

“Through this immersion I came to understand St Jude’s mission: ‘To Fight Poverty through Education’. The work being done at the school is truly amazing. We quickly learned how vital education is in an underdeveloped country. Education is the most powerful key to breaking the cycle of poverty. Some of my favourite moments on this trip were visiting students’ home. I was amazed by how humble and honest the father of Al-Fonz was and how proud he was that Al-Fonz earned a scholarship at St Jude’s. Another great moment was playing football (the universal language) alongside the students and to witness their natural athleticism and their passion.” Daniel Coffey (Y12)

“Hearing the experiences of the Tanzanian people was the highlight of my trip; whether it be a teacher, student, a Maasai warrior or recent graduate, their stories are the ones that resinate with me the most. It was a great to witness a nation built up of Christians and Muslims living in complete harmony. No one is treated differently due to their religion, which is something I think we can all take a lesson from.” Max Tate (Y12)

“On this immersion I learned that even though the Tanzanian people have very different lives, there is so much that is similar. I loved the home visit as it allowed me to learn about the life of a regular St Jude’s student, but playing soccer and touch footy with the kids was probably my highlight.” Jack Smith (Y12)

“Nothing can prepare you for a trip like this. I was pushed out of my comfort zone and I learned a lot about myself. I learned that I should be happy with what I have; that it does not matter what someone looks like or his or her skin colour or his or her religion, we all deserve the same respect the way we would expect at home. Now I’m going to give my best in everything that I do and I am going to respect and accept others equally.’ Thomas Gahan (Y10)

“The biggest highlight for me involved going to Samaritan orphanage. I met a very young boy and we formed an instant connection. I did not want to leave him there and I felt like I wanted to adopt him. I would love to go back one day to visit him. I also found it really inspirational to see how passionate Gemma Sisia is and how much she has achieved.” Ned Farhart (Y12)

“Gemma Sisia’s school truly is inspiring and it is combatting the issues of poverty by fighting poverty through education. One of my highlights and also my biggest challenge was visiting the Samaritan orphanage. The fact that these kids were without parents was a very emotional moment. To see the instant connection formed between the Joeys boys around me and these children was extremely moving.” Ben Tuite (Y10)

“This Immersion was about putting myself out there for the children of Africa and learning about their culture. The highlight for me was bonding with the kids and with the school spirit. My lesson from is trip is that we are really all the same and that we should make the most of our opportunities and to work to the best of your ability.” Logan McManus (Y12)

“I learned a lot about myself while on immersion and also a lot about Tanzania. I learned that I like to eat goat, I have many great friends and that no matter how bad things seem, I am lucky and should be grateful every single day. I feel that we should be trying to do more to help the Tanzanians. I have no idea how, but the work of Gemma Sisia is a great example of how one person can make a difference.” Angus Dermody (Y10)

“It was when we visited the Maasai Boma that I truly felt Immersed in the Tanzanian culture and I felt it was the most authentic part of this trip. The inhabitants of this Boma lived a practical, minimalistic life, with their only possessions those necessary for survival. They were genuinely happy and it made me realise that the rarest emotion of happiness is possible regardless of circumstance or wealth.” Antonio Puglisi (Y12)

“This Immersion was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. A life changing experience was visiting my sponsor child, Joseph, who is 11 years old. He is one of the happiest people I have met, yet I was taken aback by how little he has. He is very poor, but so happy. I was also inspired by meeting people at St Jude’s like Catherine, one of only three female bus drivers in Arusha, who wants to inspire more females to drive busses; and also a Year 12 student, Miriam, who said, “St Jude’s is meant to be for the poor, but it’s not true. It’s for people who are wealthy. Wealthy in the mind. Being materialistically wealthy will get you nowhere, but no one can take away the wealth you gain in your mind.” Nick Davies (Y10)