Saturday, February 10, 2007

Change and more change

The School of St Jude has 150 staff, including teachers, office workers, cooks, cleaners, drivers, builders and others. They are a rich mix of locals and international volunteers.

The mix of staff is constantly changing due to the rapid growth of taking on extra classes each year, and because the international volunteers are usually on one or two-year assignments. At the end of each year, there are the sad goodbyes as some internationals complete their assignment and head home – changed forever by their experience at the School of St Jude.

In 2006 Suzanne revolutionised the Art Department, and the volunteers kitchen!

They quickly come to love the kids for their enthusiasm and wish to learn. And they have all the rewards and satisfaction of contributing their skills in infamiliar conditions and rising to the challenges.

Alicia has the biggest heart and a cheerful willingness to do any job asked of her

Kim says,

The hardest part of the end of each year – saying good bye to the friends who have been such a part of our lives for a year or so. We share the joys of the job and the frustrations; we share our meals and washing up; we yell about noise and empty vegemite jars … and we make up; we complain together about the weather … or someone snoring; we share our jokes and smokes and diarrhea mixture; we rely on each other for chats about home and we are there for each other when bad news hits; and we make each other laugh … or at least, smile even if it is because of our variety of accents, vocabulary, and pronunciations … we are the ‘vollies’. And for that reason we come and go – taking a lot with us, leaving a bit behind … including promises to return ...

Emily, Head of Music Department and ceaseless advocate for the medical care of Alfani when he broke his leg.

Everyone at the School of St Jude is growing and developing as they face new challenges. Local teachers are striving to implement new curricula and apply newly-learnt skills, while the volunteers are striving to be effective in a challenging new environment. When the staff have the support and resources to take on new challenges, you know the kids are getting the best education possible.

Maria Kieran, Recruitment Co-Ordinator 2006, says:
Many people come to Africa to make their mark. The School of St Jude is making a massive impact in the lives of so many children. By giving them good education, and through respecting the African culture and beliefs, the school is giving these children the ability and skills to change their lives for themselves. I’d rather be a tiny part of something major than a big part of nothing.

Each year, the School faces the challenge of welcoming new staff, supporting them as they settle in, utilising their talents, and then farewelling them as they head off into the world as permanent members of the worldwide family of school supporters.

If you have visited the School, volunteered there, or know someone who has, you can use the 'comment' link below this post to share your story.

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