Lynda Lynch tells us about the local mums making the trip to visit the School of St Jude, with a huge local fundraiser to support the children who attend there. Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro will also be part of the itinerary.
When and why are you off to Africa?
We leave Armidale on the 29 September 2010 and arrive in Africa on the 30 September. Initially, there were one or two of us who were keen to go over and see the School of St Jude and climb Mount Kilimanjaro. This thought of visiting Tanzania began about 18 months ago.
Since then, over many discussions between friends, the passion to see and do has spread – as a result there are now six of us, and we refer to ourselves as ‘mums on a mission’. Our aim is to achieve something that is out of the ordinary in our lives.
We feel this will show our families and friends that we are committed to raise awareness and finances for a cause that we feel is very worthwhile.
Who is going with you?
The local mums visiting the School of St Jude and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro apart from myself, are Gemma Meehan-Gallagher, Gail Schaefer, Catherine McCann and Anthea Fagan-Chalmers, along with Julie Furlan from Darwin.
All the mothers are putting aside their family lives to challenge themselves for the good of others. The challenge includes physical training for the climb; the mums are doing weekend walks in the local area, such as Salsbury (which is a 15 km walk in and out of a gorge), a really breathtaking and amazing walk. They are also gathering to plan for fundraisers and they spend a lot of time arranging individual fundraisers and sourcing sponsors for the trivia night.
Why is this such a special fundraiser?
We are supporting the School of St Jude, as many other local communities have done. The aim is to support the school where their finances may be lacking.
Our funds could be utilised for a range of things, such as sponsoring a child who has not yet found a sponsor, to enable them to attend the school. It could be used to pay a teacher, provide education material, or go towards building.
As the school was founded by Gemma Sisia, originally from west of Guyra, we feel the funds (although going overseas) are still close to home. The fact that we are all ordinary mums who all work either full-time or part-time shows we have managed to commit to helping others.
The passion to help others also reflects to our families and friends that no matter how busy your life can be, it is amazing what you can do and achieve – not to mention the feeling of giving and helping, which is overwhelming.
In saying this, we hope to inspire others to take such a challenge. The feeling you get from giving is great; we are so looking forward to seeing the smiles of the children at St Jude’s.
How is our local girl and school founder Gemma Sisia going?
Gemma is doing a fantastic job over there; the school is continuing to expand. The student enrolments have reached 1,300. The students are now into level 7 equivalent, and the boarding starts from level 5 equivalent.
In the past, some of our local Rotary members went to St Jude’s to help build the classroom and boarding houses. Gemma has now employed local people to do the building work to continue to build more boarding houses for the students. The ability to do this has positive effects on the community as a whole.
There are now also over 400 staff employed at the school, which also helps the whole community. Hopefully, our support will also have some impact on the St Jude’s community.
Has the local business been supportive of this project?
So far we have had some great support from local businesses around the district. The Armidale Central Rotary club is the basis of our fundraising and will assist collating the funds to take to Tanzania. Armidale McDonald’s management have kindly donated $500 + vouchers for our night, and The Party Shop (Armidale) has agreed to donate decorations for the trivia night.
Some other businesses that have given very generous donations include Uphill & Schaefer, Amalee Hairdressers, Eyecare Plus, Lockman Doors & Glass, New England Travel, Evans Printing and Mick & Col’s Fitness Centre.
Finally, awesome support from The Armidale School, Junior School community and the staff and students of the Nursing Degree at UNE.
Tell us about the fundraising evening you are about to host?
On 18 September 2010 we are hosting a trivia /auction night at the Ex-services club. We are really excited to have the opportunity to gather members of the local community to get together for a collaborative effort to raise as many funds as we can in one night.
In saying one night, there has been enormous time and effort spent to get the locals to commit support. The response has been fantastic; and more support would be even better.
Hans Hietbrink, Guyra’s local Mayor has kindly agreed to help us run our Trivia/Auction night, which will put a great challenge to the trivia element – we are really grateful for his support.
We are also auctioning a fantastic range of things, such as a weekend at Sawtell, a security door, some help on fitness and many more things. Having said this, we would really love some more things to auction, as this will help raise the bar on our total funds raised.
In what ways can the public contribute?
The organising committee is seeking assistance from businesses in the form of products and sponsorship, to assist with fundraising activities. Should anyone feel their business could contribute to this great cause, this would be fantastic.
They can drop donations into the Uphill & Schaefer Real Estate Office. Simply raising awareness of the needs of the school will help.
The needs include financial funding (which is what we aim to do) and many other tangible items such as teaching materials, equipment for the boarding houses, and if anyone is interested in sponsoring a child – brilliant!
Anyone can go to the School of St Jude website to find out more at: www.schoolofstjude.co.tz
As for us – ‘mums on a mission’ – any business or individual who wishes to contribute or donate to the auction for the Trivia night at the Ex-services Club on the 18 September would be very welcome.
Cash donations are also very welcome! Tickets for the trivia night are available at Uphill & Schaefer Real Estate or the Ex-Services Club.
Thank you Lynda.