St. Judes

We returned to Arusha on Monday. Were disappointed that the Court for the Rwandan Genocide was closed to the public on the one day we were here. But we had met up with an American missionary the night before and we visited the shop where she and the other missionaries are helping the Masai artisans craft and sell beautiful jewelry and decorations.

Then we toured St. Judes. It’s ironic that in a country where the schools are so poor--many don’t have teachers or supplies--my deepest impressions have come from two schools. First Amani, now St. Judes. Started by an Australian eight years ago, it has grown from the primary grades and a few students to what we would tag tenth grade and over 1000 students.. Like Trinity a couple of years ago, they are talking with pride and anticipation about their first graduation.

Aptly named for the patron saint of lost causes, St. Judes serves students who all have two things in common: they are smart and they are poor. Hundreds of Tanzanian students take the entrance test each session. A few are chosen, for their high performance (at age 5!--we had interesting discussions about that). Then they are screened for their performance in their schools and finally for the legitimacy of their poverty. If the house has more than two rooms or running water or electricity, they don’t stand a chance. A smaller group is admitted to a probationary class, which runs for several weeks, out of which some are admitted. We ate lunch with them, toured the dorms, and visited a music class, which turned out to be more of an African dance class in which we participated. Not my most graceful moment in Africa!

There are signs everywhere that say “Speak English.” There are consequences for violators.

The school is funded entirely from philanthropic donations, mainly from Australia. The campus is handsome and attractive--I even took pictures of some murals they have to bring back as an idea for Trinity. It’s been a perpetual construction site for eight years, apparently.


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