A Trip to Uganda!

September 29, 2014

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We recently had the opportunity to connect our partner, Star High School with the African Youth Leadership Experience (AYLE). AYLE, In collaboration with In Movement: Art for Social Change, hosted a 10-day camp in Kampala for students from 6 schools in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. The goal of the camp was to cultivate and sharpen life skills in self-awareness and self-care, civic and environmental education, social entrepreneurship, and community leadership.We were so excited to have 3 SHS students and 1 teacher selected to attend the camp! Here is the feedback we received from those who participated.

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Why did you want to attend Camp Uganda?

I wanted to know and learn about life skills and how to associate with people from different countries and learn more about leadership skills. –Emmanuel

I wanted to attend Camp Uganda due to the influence of the topic of leadership and my future vision to become a leader. –Mary

What was the best part of the trip?

 The best part was arriving in Kampala and finally meeting the campers. They welcomed us as if we already met before and that awakened a sense of responsibility, energy, power, and passion for the rest of the camp. –Gloria, Teacher

The best part was getting into a new environment associating with different people! –Emmanuel

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What was the most interesting activity or workshop that you participated in?

The most important and interesting activity was Gender Day. I learned a lot about rights of men and women and how they should take their leads as leaders in the society. –Gloria, Teacher

Participating in the “Cheesecake Game” which needed a lot of creativity and innovation. –Joseph

“The River of My Life” game where we drew representations to share about our lives. – Mary

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How are you going to share what you learned with your fellow students?

 I am going to share about gratitude and attitude, public speaking and that they should be people who appreciate and have enough confidence. –Mary

I will conduct various workshops with fellow students because I am a leader of the Junior Leader club. I will teacher them the leadership skills that I got from the camp. –Emmanuel

I will act as an organ of change by sharing my knowledge about leadership, self awareness, creativity and innovation. I will help students to realize the potential in them more than performing best academically. –Gloria, Teacher

I will write all the important things I learned on cards and display them on notice boards so students can read them. –Joseph

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How was Uganda different from Tanzania?

The land form of Uganda. Most places are hilly and also, in education Uganda is a bit higher. –Emmanuel

Uganda was different in terms of food. We ate Matoke and also the currency and cost in Uganda is different. –Mary

Uganda is not so different, but I love it because it is evergreen and the people are pure hearted. –Gloria, Teacher

What was it like to be with people from different places, speaking different languages?

At first it was weird, but I got used to if because we all spoke English so we understood each other. And I also got to learn some languages. –Joseph

It was very exciting and we enjoyed learning their language—such as sulabulunji (Goodnight). –Mary

It was like a sheep wandering in a desert since it sometimes gave me a hard time to understand what people spoke. – Emmanuel

 What would you tell another student about Camp Uganda?

I would tell them they can learn a lot since they help someone to make his or her vision and goal become true and they have to expect changes for their lives. –Emmanuel

I would tell them that the camp was awesome, extremely good and they should expect new skills and new ideas that they didn’t know and talents that they didn’t know that they have, also how to govern their life. –Joseph

Camp Uganda is a creative, enjoyable place of teamwork where fun is part and parcel of your life. They should expect transformational leaders coming out of AYLE in years to come. –Gloria, Teacher

How did Camp Uganda influence or change you?

It changed my life style, especially in conflict transformation and taught me mistakes and failures are okay. –Mary

It changed my personal attitude since now I am able to speak in public as one of the leadership skills we were taught. And also I learned to stand for myself in making decisions. –Emmanuel

It made me realize the leader in me and so many other potentials. As a helping facilitator it was challenging but all in all I learned a lot and will share that potential wherever I will be. Then it also awoke in me the courage to make a project, vision, and a goal for finally making it happen. –Gloria, Teacher

It changed me in different ways, especially in handling conflict/ conflict transformation. This workshop changed me a lot from what I was before. –Joseph

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A big shout out to AYLE for hosting our students and so many others for this life changing experience. As you can see from the pictures and student feedback, it was 10 days well spent in developing the student leaders of East Africa!

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To learn more about AYLE, In Movement, and the camp, please visit:

http://africanyouthleadershipexperience.wordpress.com

https://www.facebook.com/inmovement.org

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Food for Thought Friday

September 26, 2014

MEGHANN

Most mornings I drive to work listening to Tanzania’s Kiss Radio 89.9fm. Coming from the US I’ll be honest, its not that special; however, I failed to bring any cassette tapes, and that’s the only other option in my little rent a car.

Ok, I digress, my point is that for the first time this morning something Mo in the Morning said hit home. She was pointing out that we must all move beyond ideas into action and that only then do we differentiate ourselves. It sounds like common sense, but we often get wrapped up sharing our ideas instead of focusing on what we must do to accomplish them.

This brings me back to our scholars and all their achievements, big and small. Our 104 scholars each have their own ideas on life and what they want to achieve, and month by month our team (and hopefully you all) witness the actions they are taking to make these ideas a reality.

Therefore, today I pose a question to all our readers: What is it that TFFT shares well, what can we improve on, and where do you see our biggest actions and impact being?

I hope our answers are similar, but if not, we have some work to do articulating the actionable results of our Scholarship Program, the Teachers Training Program, and Full Circle, our Lifeskills Program.

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I’ll leave you guys with a bold quote from Andre Malraux, the French novelist…

Often the difference between a successful person and a failure is not one has better abilities or ideas, but the courage that one has to bet on one’s ideas, to take a calculated risk – and to act.

Take this Friday and make a concerted effort to act on some of your good ideas – and then share them with us in the comments – eager to see what we can do collectively to change the state of this world!

Until next time…
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Graduation!

September 25, 2014

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On Saturday, September 13th the TFFT family gathered in full force to celebrate and congratulate the graduation of nine TFFT scholars. This milestone is a powerful symbol of TFFT’s work. Our team, donors, volunteers, and partners are all working together towards one goal: making sure orphans and vulnerable children have access to quality education so that they may reach their full potential and thrive in their community.

TFFT provides opportunity, opportunity that we believe is every child’s right. Our scholars take that opportunity and turn it into accomplishment. They study hard, act as leaders among their peers, and take action to improve their community. And on graduation day we get to see them shine.

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This graduation was especially meaningful for TFFT because Helena–one of the triplets that captured Meghann’s heart ten years ago at age four–graduated Class 7, the equivalent of middle school.

Not only did she graduate, she graduated from private, English-medium boarding school and will continue her educational path to secondary (high) school next year.

Here is Helena at Nkoaranga Orphanage in 2004:

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Here is Helena beaming with pride at her Class 7 graduation:

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When you think of orphans and vulnerable children, you may think of stories of hopelessness. And in some ways you’re right. In Tanzania alone, many unsupported orphans and vulnerable children never step foot into a classroom. Those that do likely attend  government schools, where under-qualified teachers lack even the most basic resources and struggle to instruct classrooms of 100+ students.

The TFFT scholars are different because, although they are all orphaned or vulnerable children, this qualification does not limit or define them.

Our scholars are intelligent, talented, opinionated, gregarious, compassionate, resilient individuals. This is what defines them. They are not bound by their past. Quality education, health care, nurturing relationships with relatives or foster families, psychosocial support, life-skills training, and extracurricular opportunities set them free. We thank each of you for doing your part to turn around what could have been a story of hopelessness into a story of triumph and success.

Just look at beautiful Sofia!

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Sofia, Helena, David, Joyce, Ndera, Sarah, Nashivai, and Monica (TFFT’s 2014 Class 7 graduates) will now be among the 25% of all Tanzanian youth who continue on to secondary (high) school. Let me stress that that statistic is not specific to orphans and vulnerable children–only 25% of ALL students in Tanzania carry on to secondary school (UNICEF). We look forward to continuing to support and encourage the success of these special individuals through secondary school and beyond.

And now, some more pictures from graduation day… It was a festive and exciting celebration for all!

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^^ Proud family and friends filled the crowd!

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^^ Our scholars had quite the cheering section. Team TFFT was all smiles as we burst with pride!

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^^ Many TFFT partners, friends, and relatives of our scholars also made the trip for this special occasion!

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^^ Older TFFT scholars showed up to support the younger TFFT graduates!

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^^ Usa River Academy honored the Gunderman family with seats at the head table!

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^^ In the time (ahem 3 hours!) leading up to the presentations of diplomas, each class performed for the graduates as a parting gift. The above pictures show the fashion show and acrobatics and vocal performances (extra proud that singer is TFFT Scholar Asimwe)!

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^^ In addition to honoring the graduates, the school recognized some of the younger students with various academic, sportsmanship, and character awards. Many of the recipients of these awards were TFFT scholars! Lomanyaki, Ericki, and Ema are pictured above.

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^^ TFFT Scholar Joyce was selected as one of two Class 7 graduation speakers!

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^^ Melissa presented the first ever TFFT Most Outstanding Teacher Awards!

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^^ We showered the TFFT graduates with love in the form of presents from near and far.

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^^And we can’t forget to mention the graduation cakes!! Entrepreneur and former TFFT scholar Viloeth (with the loving assistance of Melissa!) made a gorgeous cake for each of our graduates. Just look at those cakes! I still can’t get over them!

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^^Let’s hear it for the graduates!! They make us so proud.

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Books of Hope

September 11, 2014

MELISSA

In 2013, I wrote a blog asking for help in setting up mini-literacy centers in government schools we work with. A lot of you responded by donating books from your home, boxes of pens and pencils, sharpeners, writing tablets, cash donation for bookshelves, new leveled readers, teachers’ guides, and a lot of moral support. The Literacy Resource Center was the Teachers Training Program’s first attempt at providing tangible inputs (things they can hold and see), a deviation from the program’s capacity building focus.

As sending boxes of books through the post is a costly affair, I eagerly awaited for TFFT staff and supporters traveling to Tanzania who so willingly agreed to carry them in their luggage and becoming “book mules” in the process. Because the Literacy Resource Centers seek to service 111 government primary schools and approximately 8,000 K-3 pupils, we decided delivery would happen only when we have amassed a good number to enable borrowing and rotation of resources between the 4 centers. The good news is this: that point had been reached and we have delivered the first tranche of books and resources in June and July!

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WaterBridge Outreach: Books + Water came through with more than 4,000 leveled readers to complete the rounded up book donations from you. WaterBridge Outreach is a non-profit organization whose goal is to promote multicultural literacy, education, and development. This non-profit organization (with whom we were able to connect with through a meeting arranged by Toni Mathis, a TFFT supporter and sponsor) donates books in English and local languages and fund water and sanitation projects in communities and villages in developing countries.

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With your and WaterBridge’s generous help, TFFT was able to provide each of the 4 Literacy Resource Centers with more than 1,500 leveled readers and storybooks and resources for making teaching aids, plus a bookshelf to keep them all. I know that this number is still small compared to the number of target users but I am celebrating this wonderful progress nonetheless. We will continue to seek help and as we get them add to what was donated.

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Meanwhile, we press on with building the capacity of K-3 teachers in Meru District in teaching early literacy to complement these resources. The Teachers Training team will be carrying out a series of trainings from this month to November that seek to train 333 K-3 teachers on the building blocks of reading.

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Monday was International Literacy Day, and I hope that this blog would put a smile on your face knowing that you have helped in putting a book to a child’s hand and aided a teacher with some resources in this corner of the world. Nashukuru sana!

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Introducing Anton

September 2, 2014

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Today we have the pleasure of introducing you to Anton Asukile, our new Partnership Development Manager. In this new role, Anton will work with our partner organizations (schools, orphanages and child care centers, and other local NGOs), forge new community, corporate, and government partnerships to support TFFT’s work, and help host any 3rd party visitors to see TFFT’s work (supporters who travel for safari, collaborative work with international organizations, etc).

To get to know him, read his personal introduction below. We are so grateful to have Anton on our team!

 

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I was born and raised in Iringa region (Southern Highlands of Tanzania). I spent most of my secondary studies in boarding schools. It was one of the greatest moments of my life, making a lot of friends from different areas of Tanzania. This cultivated in me the understanding of people with different backgrounds and an attitude of valuing every kind of people.

I love meeting and making friends of new people, and it has been one of may greatest joy to be among friends, to the extent that sometime I think I am more connected to friends than some of my family members! But don’t worry I am working on balancing it.

I love music and singing, I normally don’t get tired at music practices in my church wishing to keep it on even 24 hours. Also I like swimming but I am imagining the cold water in Arusha swimming pools!!!

Well, one morning sometime in May this year when I just opened my email, I just noticed among other emails, an email from one of famous vacancies adverting websites. The email was notifying me personally that there was a vacancy related to my skills. The vacancy was from TFFT.

I was very inspired by a statement on the second paragraph on the job description sheet. The statement stated: TFFT believes in the power of education and that geography should not dictate an individual’s potential.

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I felt, wow! This is what should be in the mind of every child in Tanzania. I thought that if all children in Africa should be installed with such understanding that geography should not dictate their potentials, they would be very inspired and put maximum efforts on their studies and developing their talents, regardless economic status of their families, their schools or their countries.

I was inspired because I am a personal testimony of this reality. I grew up without knowing any of my parents, I never experienced the love and life with father and mother and I don’t know them at all….!! (Don’t feel sorry of me, I have enjoyed a lot of ‘supernatural grace’ in turn!)

But regardless of the many challenges I have been facing, I recognized one thing which I took a hold of it in school, “I was smart, a quick learner.” I took it as a shield against any challenge I would face. I would put more effort on my studies so that I pass. Through that, occupying a number 1 in classes was my culture since primary school to some of my courses at college. Leading in pass mark was my greatest happiness and comforter. My point is that, regardless of all the hardships, a child enabled to invest in his/her own inborn potential, will fly on eagles wings.

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So I took a hold of the job description, going through it and was so moved that this should be my next place to be. I had all the requirements listed and also I was in need of a room to do more on what I am capable of. I felt that TFFT will be the right place for me to contribute my skills and participate to enable more lives transformed.

I believe there are more than enough of resources in Tanzania; I believe Tanzanians has enough ability to contribute to solve their own challenges. Only they need is being strategically mobilized to do so. And that’s what we are going to do. We will focus on funds contributed by Tanzanians in our coming year to support to our programs.

Everyone has something to give and has the ability to help another, though the level differs. And with giving you prosper even more, it’s a natural principle just like gravitation force! I wish African leaders would embrace this fact and we would also begin sending charities to poorer nations, would come out of dependence shortly!

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Though we are still a small team of staff but we are the one to make the foundation for greater impacts, change more lives of our OVC and hence transform the society. I feel great to be a part of those who are making such an impact we see ahead.

Photo credit: The beautiful portraits of TFFT scholars in the post are by Nate Kaiser of Image Is Found.

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Food For Thought Friday

MEGHANN

We’ve all heard it before, you are only as strong as your weakest link…right?! So why so often do we accept mediocrity? For a month now I’ve been focused on this topic, racking my brain, going back and forth about where I stand on the situation.

Today, literally today, my mind is made up. I will not be one of those who accept anything mediocre. If your weakest link is weak, pull them up or let them go, don’t let it compromise what you are working so hard to achieve.

Last week I spent 5 days with some fabulous Global Shapers, 350 of us from over 150 countries in 9 regions of the world, converging on Geneva to see how our collective power can help change the state of this world.

350 Global Shapers come together to build the ideal city!

350 Global Shapers come together to build the ideal city!

This week I had the opportunity to meet with Dick Law from Arsenal Football Club and learned about how the team and administration’s DNA is focused on QUALITY and the pursuit of it. I’m sure right now you’re thinking, how on earth does all this come together. Well here goes – not anyone I met at the World Economic Forum or anybody involved with Arsenal accepts mediocrity. In fact, in both places it was highlighted to me that one shouldn’t accept anything less than excellence and TFFT’s focus on QUALITY education is what is going to set it apart and ensure those scholars in our program and the teachers and administrations we train will be among the best.

Arsenal Training Centre - where QUALITY is a part of their DNA

Arsenal Training Centre – where QUALITY is a part of their DNA

If you’re interested in reading more on high performance, I suggest looking at Rasmus Ankersen’s The Gold Mine Effect. The concept isn’t one just for sport, it transcends sport and is relevant in a boardroom, classroom, and even within your home!

#FoodForThoughtFriday

At the Global Headquarters for The World Economic Forum, Geneva, Switzerland

At the Global Headquarters for The World Economic Forum, Geneva, Switzerland

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TFFT Scholars Take the Lead with Community Service

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An exciting achievement last week for Full Circle! One of the clubs that we support at Usa River Academy completed their first, student-led community service project! Last year, students participating in the workshop Uswege and I ran with RENEW Organization, students identified the need to educate their fellow students on environmental issues. Their idea for the project: distribute dustbins (trash cans) to other schools and talk to students about the impact trash can have on the environment.

Well, after a lot of planning meetings, discussions, brainstorming, scrapping and changing ideas, visiting possible partner schools, more meetings, and some practices, the project was ready for implementation!

Students visited and identified Arusha Secondary School to be their target school. They presented the idea to the environment teacher and head of school and were approved! They wrote rap songs, created pamphlets for distribution, and prepared speeches for the school.

Once we arrived at the school on Friday morning, students began recruiting help for their work from the student body (with the approval of teachers, of course). The students had seen that the problem at Arusha Sec. wasn’t just a lack of dust bins, but an attitude by students that their school environment wasn’t their responsibility. Because of this, student involvement in projects was vital. Usa River Academy and Arusha Sec students worked together to paint the bins with behavior change messages, cut the grass around the school, and sweep the sidewalks and pavement.

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After painting the trash bins, our students were called to address the student body. They introduced themselves, their club, and their cause. The favorites (not surprisingly) were the dance illustrating picking up trash, and the rap about caring for your environment and school! Suffice it to say, our students are far more talented than I am. Most importantly, the school was very happy with the result and students reacted extremely positively.

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By the time we left, the grass was cut, the sidewalks clean, and the dustbins ready. And we were covered with paint…some is still around my nails as I’m typing this. A lovely reminder of a great day watching our students do what they do best when given the opportunity, taking the lead!

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A TFFT Summer

Elizabeth

Wow, who knew two months could go by so quickly! I have loved every minute of my time at TFFT, and man has it been busy. From writing blogs to inform our awesome network of supporters what we’re up to, to calling sponsors, to working on the Gala, helping with RIDETZ, to learning and understanding the world of donor databases; I have had a chance to do it all! TFFT not only taught me the inner workings of a non-profit, but also what it really means to have a work family. I can’t imagine having spent my summer anywhere but here (well maybe in Tanzania, but I’ll get there one day!)

When I first found out that both Meghann and Kaitlin were going to be gone in Tanzania this summer I was worried about how much I would actually be doing. But let me tell you, even from Africa Meghann and Kaitlin make you feel important. Maggie and I held down the fort and looked forward to our daily photos of the kids as well as the RIDETZ riders. If those photos aren’t enough to make you fall in love with TFFT and Africa, I don’t know what is.

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June was filled with RIDETZ and the database. Between following RIDETZ and entering and editing database information I was quite busy. I was impressed with the huge stack of thank you letters Maggie and I mailed out to the people who donated to RIDETZ. A stack of well over 100 letters shows how amazing all of our riders, their friends and families are.

July came and the entire US team was finally home from Tanzania! It was great getting to spend time with everyone. With July, Gala planning had begun! While I knew a lot of work went into planning the event, I did not realize how much work it actually is! From meeting with committee members to contacting magazines event calendars, we have been on a roll. All this work just makes me even more excited to come back for the Gala in November! SAVE THE DATE – Friday, November 7th! Charlotte, NC – 8th Annual S.O.S Gala

A highlight this summer was having Kona Bourne visit the office. Kona wanted all the attention, but when it came to taking photos, she would not sit still. The best pictures I got were ones of her walking away or turning her head away from me. It was all fun and games until she ate Meghann’s mom’s lunch…but that’s okay Kona we still love you!

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After our last “official” day, Meghann took Maggie and I out to dinner to celebrate the summer. While we missed having Kaitlin and Kelly with us (Kaitlin was a little busy getting ready to get married), we had a lot of fun. I have had the best summer working with this group and I definitely will miss seeing everyone’s faces each day. But don’t worry; this is not the last you will see of me!

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Africa descends on DC

MEGHANN

Last week was particularly interesting for our TFFT team and monumental for US-Africa relations. 47 of 54 African heads of state convened in DC for a Summit to encourage collaboration between our country and the African continent. I was fortunate to be able to attend the US-Africa Leaders Summit, by invitation from Ambassador Liberata Mulamula, the Tanzanian Ambassador to The United States.

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(Panel Discussion)

My focus was mostly around the sessions regarding Tanzania and the potential that exists there, where the private sector is investing currently and where the opportunities lie. You might be wondering, why an NGO would care about what the private sector is doing?? Well – it matters not only for economic development in general for the region, it matters because TFFT’s role in all this is creating a well educated work force to fuel the growth of these private sector companies.

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(President Kikwete addresses the audience)

The Corporate Council on Africa in partnership with the Embassy of the United Republic of Tanzania and the Tanzanian Investment Center put on a session about “Doing Business in Tanzania.” I was truly shocked to hear how small America’s presence was in Tanzania and Africa in general. Tanzania has the largest growing middle class in the world, and is the largest recipient of foreign direct investment in East Africa. The UK, China and India all come before the US with regards to FDI.

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A big highlight of the day for me was meeting H.E. Dr. Jakaya Kikwete, the President of the United Republic of Tanzania. He was only meant to speak to our group for 10-15 minutes and he stayed on for an hour plus pitching Tanzania as a place for growth and opportunity. He talked about energy and power being a welcoming sector. It was shocking to hear that only 36% of Tanzanians have access to electricity, and it is all because the country isn’t producing enough power. He then focused on opportunities that exist and are growing in the agriculture sector, infrastructure needs, the strength of our tourism industry and the mining sector, not just looking at the traditional gemstones but also other minerals that can fuel technology advances in the coming decade.

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(View from the Atlas Mara event)

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(Bloomberg Event at the Carnegie Library)

All in all I walked away pretty excited about working in Tanzania, and where it had the potential to go in the next 10-20 years. Our Tanzanian Ministers were talking a big game about becoming a middle income country by 2025, and inflation rates dropping from 6.4% to under 5% by next year. As President Kikwete said, “we must seize the moment.” Are you ready? TFFT is!

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(The Ultimate TEAM TZ Selfie- Ashish Thakkar, CEO Mara Group, Meghann Gunderman Bourne, ED of TFFT, Susan Mashibe, Founder, Owner and Executive Director of VIA Aviation, and Mohammed Dewji, CEO of METL Group Tanzania!)

To read more from the Summit take a look here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/us-africa-leaders-summit or you can peek into my Twitter coverage here: http://twitter.com/TFFTAFRICA

 

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Tanzania Dreaming-Anna’s Kwaheri

ANNA Kwaheri

These past five weeks have been amazing. I fell in love with Arusha, and The Foundation for Tomorrow (TFFT) so much that I contemplated “accidentally” missing my flight home. Instead, I will just have to plan my next trip back to Tanzania. There will be so many things I know I will miss when I am back in the dala dala  (public transportation) was always fun despite the complete lack of personal space. Honestly, the times I had my hair stroked or sat next to a man and his chicken only made the experience better! I occasionally rode piki pikis –no helmets (motorcycles, sorry mom and dad!). Ah.. and the food; while an omelet cooked with fries (chips mayai) might sound strange, it should be on every menu in the U.S. ​

Of course I will miss the scholars the most! I loved having looked at a pamphlet or a poster of our scholars and finally being able to put names to their faces. Through tutoring I discovered English frequently doesn’t make sense, and I had to review long division, but I cherish the sessions I spent with the scholars. I couldn’t have asked for better students. They are such bright and excited students who really showed their passion for learning. It was so much fun to watch the kids race to write on the board and to participate. It made being a part of an organization that promotes education even more worthwhile than I could have imagined. image The scholars are fortunate to receive a good education, but they’ve also been blessed with such caring and hardworking people who have offered them so many opportunities. The Foundation for Tomorrow really is a family. Every time I would mention to a scholar that I was working with TFFT, their eyes would instantly light up. It’s obvious that the affection the staff has for the scholars is fully reciprocated. image When I applied for this internship, I had really hoped to gain knowledge on the inner workings of a non-profit. Luckily, I was given the opportunity to be involved in various aspects of TFFT. Whether I was attending an office meeting, tutoring scholars, or taking trips to schools, I have learned so much this past month. I have been given the best of both worlds by being able to experience the business side of a successful non-profit, while also getting to know our scholars. I couldn’t have imagined how much this month would mean to me before I had departed for Tanzania. From what I have learned, to whom I have met, I know I will constantly have Tanzania on my mind! image

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