Sunday, October 07, 2007

Thanks Mum!

One of my sayings is “Pleasure delayed is doubled”. When we have to wait for something, our appreciation when it finally arrives is especially sweet. So, if we have waited for years to fulfill a deep need, our gratitude overflows.

Gemma Sisia, founder of St Jude’s, was overflowing with joy and gratitude this year when her mother came to visit Tanzania and see the amazing school. Gemma’s mother raised eight children – seven boys, and Gemma. Like any mother, she hoped her children would be independent in the world, but she also hoped that they would stay within reach, especially her only daughter.

So she was dismayed when Gemma decided to make her life in Tanzania, and she did not support the plan. Now, of course, time has passed and she has adapted to the idea. She is proud to encourage Gemma as she builds the School of St Jude into a network of free schools for poor children.

Earlier this year, Gemma’s mother made her first visit to the School, and was overwhelmed by the love and appreciation that flowed to her. Parents at the School queued for hours to thank her for being the mother of Gemma, who has brought such hope and goodness into their lives, by providing their children with the lifeboat of a good education.

The mothers of children at St Jude’s know what it is like to have hopes and dreams for their children. And they have a true sense of the gift Gemma’s mother has given them by raising an extraordinary person like Gemma, and now in supporting her life’s work.

You can get a taste of the joy shared by all when Gemma's mother (and some brothers) visited the School of St Jude earlier this year, in Gemma's words –

As with every visitor to the school on a Friday, Mum and the rest of my visiting family were invited up on stage at the assembly. Bibi Hans, Head of our School Board, told all the parents of our students who had gathered for this special occasion that my Mum may have had eight children but only one daughter and instead of helping her at home, she was in Africa helping their children!

It was quite extraordinary but over a 1000 parents came to the assembly to say thank you to Mum for parting with her daughter for them. They arrived with gifts of cards, African handicrafts, materials, jewelery, food and even animals! And every single person wanted to shake Mum’s and the rest of the family’s hands. It was just so overwhelming but Mum managed to be gracious to every person despite the very long morning and language barrier. I was really touched that so many people showed their appreciation to her – I guess it was Mum and Dad who made me who I am and therefore St Jude’s what it is.

Bibi Hanns, Gemma's Mum, brothers Nick, Paddy and Danny, Yvonne (Nick’s wife) and their boys – Sam and David – and Yvonne’s sister, Anne

And here is the queue of parents snaking through the assembly hall. Each one is waiting their turn to say 'thank you' to Gemma's mum and family.

This took so long that Gemma's Mum had to sit down. Look at those smiles. Imagine receiving this 1,000 times in one morning! That's a LOT of good karma!

Gemma's Mother and Father-in-law were so excited finally to meet Gemma's Mum that they killed their best goat and organised a special dinner for the whole family. Luckily Gemma's Mum is used to living on a farm and meeting her dinner before she eats it!

When you have waited a long time for something important, the arrival is doubly-sweet. Gemma's Mum took a while to get to Africa and now she has been welcomed with joy.

Thanks Gemma's Mum!

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