jescaJesca tells her story about the way her life was changed by her education at St Michael School to help others and her community

“St Michael School was the source of a new future for me”

Sue and Tony Vaughan met up with Jesca Mgimba during their recent visit to Iringa in Tanzania. Sue says, “Jesca started to tell us about her good fortune in being able to attend St Michael School in Kilolo – we were both bowled over by her non-stop chatting, enthusiasm and infectious laughter.”

Jesca’s parents had wanted her to help with the farming.  She decided that she wanted to go to school and study for her A levels.  However, by this time she was over 21 years old and therefore was not entitled to go to a Secondary School in Tanzania.  St Michael School, Kilolo however, accepted her as a pupil. To pay her school fees she continued growing maize and making school jumpers.  Jesca was one of the first students that David Tilley helped, providing her with funding to run her knitting business.  Trustee Richard Gill and his wife, Jane also supported her with funding.

On successfully passing her O levels she graduated in 2009 and went to the Dar Es Salaam Institute and studied Social Work, funding the course herself from her business.

Back in Iringa she undertook a 2 year course in Community Development and Social Affairs, again supporting herself with her knitting business.  As part of the course she undertook field work and met Andrew Wingfield from Emanuel International.

Jesca is now employed by Emanuel International as a Project Manager.  Her current project is The Stove Project. The project teaches village groups to manufacture and sell the stoves.  The design of these stoves has reduced the consumption of firewood by 19kg per week. This results in fewer hours being required to collect firewood and thereby reduces the vulnerability of women while they are out collecting.  These stoves are also healthier and less smoky resulting in a marked decrease in respiratory problems.  The project also teaches villagers to plant tree seeds in a nursery for planting on their farms.

Jesca, when not working for EI, works in local communities in many villages empowering women.  The women have problems when their husbands die resulting in their children being unable to go to school.  Jesca encourages the women to work hard and send their children to school. She has also set up dispensaries within the villages.  With her ‘empowering women’ work there are now 100 villages where women who were previously reluctant to put themselves forward, now stand up at meetings and are prepared to express their views. Initially there was resistance to what she was doing but she is steadily overcoming this.

St Michael School last year invited Jesca to attend their Graduation ceremony and to act as Master of Ceremonies.  She will be attending the ceremony again this year. Godfrey Yangu, the headmaster at the school, told us that Jesca is an inspiration to the students, especially the girls

Jesca receives strong support from her husband who is a secondary school academic master and Christian Organiser. She has a young son.

Towards the end of her interview we discovered that Sarah Mgimba, a student that we sponsored between 2010 and 2013 is Jesca’s niece. It was great to find out that Sarah has an administrative job with the police in Dar es Salaam. What a coincidence!