We are thrilled to welcome Hilda to the team as our Full Circle Program Manager! Her strong passion for life skills education and our mission is inspiring, and we are excited to see the positive impact she is sure to bring TFFT. Welcome, Hilda!
Would you tell us little about yourself-where are you from, what do you do in spare time, what are your hobbies?
My name is Hilda Baldwin Lema. I am 29 years old and a mother of one child. I was born in Machame, Kilimanjaro. I graduated from Tumaini University Iringa in 2011. I am the last born with two sisters and one brother. My father is a retired teacher and my mother is a retired typewriter for the Tanzania Bible Association. I am Chagga by tribe, the most commonly known tribe in Tanzania from northern part of Kilimanjaro. Our main tribal food is banana.
In my spare time I love spending time with my son who is two and a half years old. I love teaching him sports like football, running, rope jumping, and play and hide. I also love engaging in youth conferences and coaching on personality, leadership, entrepreneurship, relationships, puberty education, and children’s rights. I like reading books related to youth, adults, and children, and watching the news and documentaries. I enjoy learning from other organizations that deal with children and youth, and these have widened my understanding of this work.
What are your previous work experiences?
Since 2012 I have worked for Asante Africa Foundation (AAF) in various positions. First, I recorded, edited, and translated Khan Academy in biology and mathematics. Next I was a Scholarship Intern. In this role I visited schools and met with AAF scholars and listened to their stories of how they came to AAF. These stories were very touching to me. I never thought there were kids coming from as difficult of an environment as those I met. One class 3 girl (third grader) was taking care of her brother and grandmother. She was an orphan who was left with nothing by parents who died from HIV. Her grandmother was 87 years old. Before AAF, she would sell vegetables after school and go neighborhood families asking for any job that she can do over weekend and after school to earn money to feed herself, her young brother, and her grandmother and to buy workbooks and pens for school. She is now the best student and wants to become a doctor to give back to her community by helping those in need.
Then I was a Leadership and Entrepreneurship Incubator Coordinator. I led weeklong trainings for students, and it was an unforgettable experience to help our students become independent, responsible, and active community members who contribute rather than becoming burdensome to community and family. Lastly, I worked as a Wezesha Vijana Coordinator. Having worked so close to school and students, I came to realize that there was a great need to introduce life skills education in school. My past experience showed me how important it is to implement life skills education to primary and secondary students. This is essential for leadership and personality development. We focused on puberty education, entrepreneurship, peer pressure, stress management, decision making, dream mapping, and children’s right with the aim of reducing drop out, early marriage, unplanned pregnancy and eradicate female genital mutilation.
How did you first learn about TFFT?
When working with AAF we had a leadership and entrepreneurship incubators conference for AAF scholars and other partnering schools at Usa River Academy, where many of the TFFT Scholars attended school. I met with one of the teachers, Eric, and he mentioned TFFT. I then searched the TFFT website to learn more. I later saw the job advertisement for TFFT on Arusha mailing and I was so interested to applying due to TFFT’s mission and vision.
How will these experiences prepare you for your work as TFFT’s Full Circle Program Manager?
My past experiences, especially the life skill experiences, will help me a lot in my role as the Full Circle Program Manager. So many students don’t finish school, struggle with early pregnancies, poor performance, ineffective communication, and poor interactions among students and teachers, and all of these are caused by lack of life skills. When students learn life skills, I believe so many positive changes will happen in their lives. I am expecting at the end the Scholarship Program students will be proud of their improved:
- self esteem
- inter-personal relations among students
- knowledge on HIV
- knowledge of children’s rights and responsibilities
- student-teacher relations
- attendance and reduced drop out
- engagement in community work
- family- school link
- talents due to sports
At school students gain academic knowledge, but teachers forget that life skills are essential for students too. In reality, despite academic achievement, how we apply the knowledge we acquire in school requires life skills. As the Full Circle Manager, I will put emphasis on this and follow up to make sure that primary students have knowledge of personal hygiene, humanity, children’s rights and responsibilities. I will work to awaken students’ talents and students’ and teachers’ relationships. Through the Personality Development and Sports (PDS) class—the class that TFFT’s life skills curriculum is taught in—I will emphasize to teachers the importance of teaching these skills to students. These skills will make them responsible for their families and nation at large.
What about TFFT’s mission inspires you?
Providing quality education and emotional support to some of the most vulnerable children inspires me. Looking at the backgrounds of the children TFFT supports, there are many children from orphanage centers. Their backgrounds inspire me because TFFT is acting as the family and guardian for these kids. I was also inspired by TFFT’s program that strengthens the livelihood of our scholars’ foster families by providing them with loans. This will change their lives completely and make it possible for these families to provide for the basic needs of their children. Also, uniting these orphans to their families is good because they can feel like other non-orphaned kids, rather than staying at an orphanage, which can affect children psychologically. There are so many orphaned and vulnerable children in East Africa, and with support of TFFT, many benefit from our services. I so believe when they grow up they will have good jobs, stable lives, and they will be on our side reducing this problem.
What attracted you to the position as the TFFT’s Full Circle Program Manager
TFFT’s influence implementing life skills education through the nationally mandated Personality Development and Sports (PDS) class attracted me to apply for the Full Circle Program Manager position. This will benefit many students, rather than just a few. I wish life skills education would be taught well in all schools in Tanzania. TFFT’s aim to achieve this through PDS class moved me because I believe it will soon be nationally adopted and all students will learn these skills.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
Life skills education is very essential in Tanzania. Teachers tend to forget that in life, students need to use skills. The fact that PDS is not tested by exams makes teachers able to use this time for personal activities. With the curriculum and toolkit TFFT developed, many teachers are now feeling prepared to teach and engage students in developing talents through sports. I so believe this will be nationally adopted.