FEDERAL Member for New England, Barnaby Joyce, has welcomed the announcement in Canberra on Wednesday that former Guyra resident, Gemma Sisia, has had her charity, the School of St Jude, given tax deductible status by the Federal government.
Mr Joyce spoke with Mrs Sisia at Parliament House this week at a special afternoon tea hosted by the Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
“It was great to catch up with Gemma, she is an inspiration to so many people,” Mr Joyce said.
“Her story is one of how to make a difference against the odds,” he said.
Educated in the New England and Sydney, Mrs Sisia concluded her tertiary studies with a Diploma of Education through the University of New England in Armidale after completing a science degree at Melbourne University.
After seeing images of starving children in Africa, she decided she would work in any capacity to help the people who needed it the most.
Once she received her Dip Ed, she volunteered in Uganda at a girls centre teaching maths, science and sewing. This experience would eventually pave her way to Tanzania and starting The School of St Jude.
The School of St Jude is now seen as a model for fighting poverty through education and is contributing to the improvement of teaching and learning across Tanzania.
“Gemma’s story is amazing,” Mr Joyce said.
“Starting with three students, she now has 1,800 children at the School of St Jude.
“Coming from a family farm between Ben Lomond and Guyra, Gemma goes to show if you really want to make a difference you really can,” Mr Joyce said.
“Gemma’s making a difference and that’s what I like about her.
“She comes across as a normal person. She doesn’t come across as a saint or Einstein. She’s a person who wants to do the right thing.
“We could borrow a bit from what Gemma’s done and probably even use it in some of our outback communities,” he said.
Founder of the School of St Jude and former Guyra resident, Gemma Sisia, with the Federal Member for New England, Barnaby Joyce, in Canberra on Wednesday.