Gemma Sisia to share inspiring story in Taree

 Gemma, Winrose and St Jude's students share a moment of fun.
Gemma, Winrose and St Jude's students share a moment of fun.

Former Australian teacher Gemma Sisia opened the gates to The School of St Jude 15 years ago in Tanzania and now, thanks to the support of thousands of Australians, 1,800 promising yet impoverished students have access to a free, high-quality education.

Gemma and one of the inspirational students whose life has been changed by the generosity of Australians will attend a dinner and fundraiser hosted by the Rotary Club of Taree North at Club Taree on Wingham Road on March 9 at 7pm to share their story.

Winrose Mollel graduated last year at the top of her class and was the first St Jude’s graduate to be accepted into university through The School of St Jude’s partnership with The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program at ALA. Later this year.

Winrose will head to Trinity College in Connecticut, USA, to begin living her dream of becoming an aeronautical engineer.

“Being offered a scholarship at St Jude’s has changed my life,” Winrose said.

“It has made such a difference and given me the assurance that I could achieve my dream which I never had before at my government school.”

Like many people in Tanzania, Winrose came from extreme poverty, growing up in a rural village, where she helped her farmer father raise her younger sister and shared household duties after her mother passed when she was in primary school. 

Most girls in similar situations in Tanzania have no choice but to drop out of school, but Winrose was committed to getting an education. 

As a primary school student, she walked 2.5km to school each day, shared a desk with five others, had no books, no meals and sometimes no teacher, but she was pushed by a desire to make a brighter future for her family.

“Sometimes I got so hungry during the school day that I developed stomach ulcers. It was hard to study when there were no teachers and no books,” Winrose said. “Now, thanks to St Jude’s, somebody who didn’t know me - had no idea I existed - decided to sponsor me and I’m so thankful and proud to say it has been a good investment.”

In Tanzania, 66.6 per cent of people do not reach secondary school and less than 3.2 per cent make it to the final two years of school (USAid, 2016). 

Winrose and her fellow St Jude’s graduates are proof that Australians are making a difference in the fight against poverty in Tanzania.

“The School of St Jude now has approximately 1800 students who have a real chance to escape poverty because they receive a free, high-quality education,” Gemma said.

“It’s a dream that we’ve worked hard on building, and these amazing students and their families would never have had the opportunity without the wonderful support of Australians.”

Gemma has inspired countless Australians through her bestselling book St Jude’s, appearances on 60 Minutes and Australian Story as well as speaking engagements across Australia.

Come along and give Gemma and Winrose a true blue welcome. 

To book your ticket please contact Jan on 6551 7111 or Susan on 0421 526 046. Bookings close on February 26.