Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Taking risks

Sydney is hazy today from fires in the Blue Mountains – 15,000 hectares of natural bushland has burnt already. It is 38 degrees Celsius, 100 Farenheit, and the winds are gusting. This will be a bad year for fires.

I wonder if they have bushfires in Tanzania? It must be dry enough for it!

The School of St Jude occupies a 3-acre site at Moshono, on the outskirts of Arusha in Northern Tanzania.

Starting with just three students in 2002, the school has grown phenomenally, due largely to the vision and energy of the founder, Gemma Sisia. In just four years, the school has outgrown its 3 acres. Five new classes will be added each year until the school fills all the years of a Primary School curriculum.

But what will happen to the children when they finish Primary School education at St Jude’s? These children have excelled in national exams, but coming from the poorest families, most will not have the means to attend the local Secondary Schools.

The solution? Buy more land and start a Secondary School.

Usa River campus with the corn still growing

In June this year, the School of St Jude bought 30 acres at Usa River. Work has begun to build a security wall around the land. At the beginning of 2008, half the classes from the Moshono campus will move across to the Usa River campus and then the construction of the secondary school will start in 2008 along with the boarding school.

Foundations for security walls on new Usa River campus

This long-term planning will ensure that the school continues to grow in a responsible way to provide high-quality education to the poorest children of the Arusha region.

The rate of growth is reflected in the financial accounts. In 2004 the expenses of the school totalled $US 367,000. In 2005 the expenses were $696,000. This increase would be really scary if support had not grown to match it, especially in Australia. Sponsorship and donations from Australia nearly doubled in one year, from $US240,000 in 2004 to $US 524,000. A further $US81,000 comes from other countries.

This is the most exciting time to be part of this inspiring and energetic project. It is growing so fast that onlookers almost hold their breath in case a misstep causes the project to falter. So, if you have a tolerance for risk, come aboard and lend your support to this phenomenon.

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