Scholar Interview with Julieth

July 26, 2016


July has been a whirlwind, but in the best way possible. After finishing RIDETZ, I’ve stayed in Arusha for a few weeks to interview some of the TFFT Scholars in honor of TFFT’s 10th Anniversary. Getting to go to the different schools around Arusha and meeting some of the scholars who I’ve heard about, seen photos of, and communicated with sponsors about for so many years has been really cool. As we go through the interviews, I’m able to learn so much about the scholars, and I’ve been surprised with how open they have been with me. One of my favorite interviews so far was with Julieth Elyiah.


Julieth Elyiah is 17 years old and is in Form 3 at Star High School. Julieth’s mother had eight children, but two of them have passed away. Julieth shared that her mother was a victim of domestic violence. Before becoming a TFFT Scholar, Julieth attended Nkoarika Government School, where she recalls that there were not enough teachers or supplies. The class was filled with students, but there were not many teachers. Some days she was sent home from school because she could not provide the maize, beans, water, and money that were used as payments to attend school. Her mother was pregnant and had no work, which resulted in trouble finding food. Later her mom found a job selling bananas.


When she was 8 years old, her mother found out about TFFT from another mother in the village. After interviews and the selection process, Julieth was informed that she would receive a TFFT Scholarship. Julieth says her mother is still suffering, but Julieth is working hard in school to relieve her mother of some of this struggle. Julieth enjoys going home over school breaks and helping her mother around the house.

As a TFFT Scholar, Julieth began attending school at Fikira Kwanza, and then transferred to Usa River Academy. She excelled at Usa River Academy, and her grades were high enough that she was sent to Star High School, one of the top secondary schools in Tanzania. Julieth is now thriving at Star High. Her favorite subjects are Commerce and Book Keeping. She dreams of becoming an accountant and working in a bank. When I asked Julieth who her inspiration is, she responded without hesitation saying that it is her mother. Julieth loves her family and works incredibly hard to improve her mother’s situation for the future. At TFFT, Stephen guides Julieth. She feels comfortable talking with Stephen and asking him for advice.


Julieth loves her life as a TFFT Scholar. When I asked her what she likes most about being a TFFT Scholar, she thought for a moment and said she loves that TFFT is supporting and comforting. She also loves the other TFFT Scholars and she likes helping them when they need help. She mentioned many times that she loves TFFT, she loves her sponsor, Bobby Samuelson, and she loves TFFT supporters.

Julieth is an incredibly bright, sensitive, and kind young girl, and I loved the opportunity I had to talk with her. She is so thankful for the chance to receive a quality education, and she is truly making the most of this opportunity. I know that with her motivation and her intelligence, Julieth will go far, and I am very excited to see where the future takes one of Tanzania’s brightest stars!

Posted in Tanzania, TFFT Student Work | Comments closed

Trip to Pangani

July 14, 2016


This June, as part of RIDETZ, several of our scholars had the opportunity to travel to Pangani, a beach town on Tanzania’s beautiful coast. The trip to Pangani was such an unforgettable experience for everyone involved. For many of the scholars, it was the first time they had ever seen the ocean.

We started our journey to Pangani late in the morning one day before the riders arrived at this end destination. It took us 11 hours to reach Pangani. Though we arrived late in the evening, everyone was happy with the journey and finally we arrived safely. We had time to stop at a handful of small shops along the road, eat lunch together as a family, and enjoy the landscape along the way. We stayed near the beach, which was amazing for our scholars to see.


While waiting for the riders, we conducted a workshop for our scholars on life skills, including sessions on time management and goal setting.


The riders, scholars, and TFFT team had a great time meeting each other and having fun together on the beach. When the riders arrived at Pangani, they ran straight into the ocean. The scholars and the team were there, waiting to congratulate on completing RIDETZ 2016! It was wonderful to observe the interactions between our scholars and the riders. Some people splashed around in the water and others sat down on the shoreline engaged in a conversation.


It was lovely to see the scholars, the team, board members, our founder, Meghann, and our supporters in one place, all sharing a unique experience together. We celebrated the achievement and their impact in securing quality education for the most vulnerable children in our country, Tanzania.


Although brief, meeting the riders was an awesome moment in our scholars’ lives. Everyone enjoyed witnessing the riders’ success as they finished their challenging 400 mile ride from Arusha to Tanga. The riders, an important part of our TFFT Family, share a passion and strong belief in our work that keeps us focused and moving forward. We are grateful for these individuals who support us in many ways in order to bring the changes that we want in securing quality education in Tanzania.


Posted in Events, RIDETZ, Tanzania | Comments closed

First Family Cell Meeting at Usa River Academy

July 12, 2016


TFFT introduced Family Cells with the intention of helping our Scholars to build psychological wellbeing, social life, and academic performance. The Family Cells help the scholars get to know each other better, as they spend more time together.


During our first meeting, we went through the following:

  1. The meaning of the family
  2. Roles of the family head
  3. Roles of the family members
  4. The importance of establishing these families of TFFT Scholars

The students were very happy to be introduced to this new system of families in schools. They said these Family Cells will help them to become friends with one another and they will be helping each other whenever they are having some problems.


We also shared with them that it is important to have leaders within the Family Cells, and these leaders will be responsible when the family head is not around.

During the meeting, we agreed that the Family Cell should be a happy place where all the family members need to feel comfortable and enjoy themselves. In order to create a peaceful and happy environment in the family, we have to establish the rules which are fair to every member, and all Family Cell meetings must include fun activities in addition to discussions.


As the Family Cell Head, I am preparing lots of games and sports which will be useful activities during the next family cell meeting. What I have noticed is that the students have lots of knowledge and skills, so Family Cell meetings will provide a great time for us all to share our skills and experiences to equip one another. Also, Family Cell meetings will offer a time to help any younger or less strong students. The students have shown appreciation of having Family Cells as an important resource.


Posted in Psychosocial + Health, Scholarship Program | Comments closed

Building a Child’s Psychological Well-Being in our Daily Interactions

June 28, 2016


Basic acceptance and unconditional support of a person is essential to healthy development. Carl Rogers proposed this about 60 years ago, and many of us of the Humanistic persuasion still believe it to be true. How can we put this into practice to help our scholars to be the best possible people that they can be? How can we build the psychological well being of a child so that they can thrive in a school environment? These are two very important questions that those of us in TFFT who are entrusted with scholar’s overall welfare, must take into account with all our interactions.


Psychological needs for all of us can be drilled down to the following: feeling safe, feeling that you belong, having a sense that you have control over your life, and feeling that you are competent and are able to achieve things. When these basic needs are fulfilled, students are more likely to become engaged and committed to their work at school. They are more likely to act in accordance with school rules, develop better social skills and emotional intelligence, contribute to the school environment, have better motivation, less alienation, and increase their school performance. What an amazing list of wonderful things we would all want for our children! Is psychological wellbeing the key to all those things? Social scientists tell us from their research, so it is important for us to discuss further these four basic psychological needs and incorporate them in our own work, and into our curriculum development for our partner schools.


Armed with this knowledge, there are some simple things that we can encourage when we interact with our scholars.


To make children feel safe, we must allow them the space to be themselves, and to be accepted no matter what. A child needs to know they can make mistakes, and practice different responses without being harshly judged. This does not mean there are no boundaries or discipline, but that they can expand in safety without being overly cautious.


To help them feel that they belong, young people need to feel they are accepted, know who they are, feel that they are valued and respected and part of a group. When one feels connected to others, and feel a part of a community, one is protected from many of life’s harsh experiences. This can be especially true in African societies. Some of our scholars may not know their family members, or they may be estranged from their family’s communities. As TFFT we need to encourage family interaction, and encourage pride of culture and traditions. We should know a child’s background, encourage friendships, and help connect children with their guardians. If a child is discriminated against or bullied or alienated, we need to appreciate how this can negatively impact a child’s psychological well being, and intercede promptly. Our scholars are vulnerable to being left out, or left behind. We need to make sure they are connected.


To encourage our scholars to raise their confidence and self-efficacy, we all need to praise good work, encourage sustained effort, and talk about peer role models who have achieved their goals. In our interaction with scholars, we need to verbally reward achievements, and even encourage scholars to visualize a successful future. Children are more likely to put in more effort if they see that they can do things successfully. As concerned adults we can seek out what a child can do well, and encourage them to do better, harder, and expand their horizons.


Our last basic psychological need is to feel that you have autonomy and control over one’s life. For a young person in school, this means being self-motivated, having self-direction, taking responsibility for your actions, and having a say over your choices. When a child has autonomy, they are more likely to stay with an activity, improve their problem solving ability, have greater creative ideas and better conceptual understanding. Ways we can support a child to have autonomy is give them choices in things that effect them, encourage children to experiment, creatively think and challenge themselves. Feedback that is non-judgmental and specific information about how to improve would also be helpful. As children grow older, they need to be encouraged to think for themselves, voice their opinions, and be independent.


Through Family Cells, TFFT staff has greater opportunity to make a difference to a child’s psychological strength. This can profoundly impact a child’s life outcomes for the better. Those of us with Teacher Training responsibilities need to encourage teachers to protect and build a child’s psychological well being in the classroom, and outside the classroom. With these efforts our scholars can live richer and happier lives.


Posted in Advocacy, Psychosocial + Health | Comments closed

School Club Establishment and Management Training

June 27, 2016


At the most recent training we conducted for the Personality Development and Sports (PDS) piloting project, both teachers and students benefitted from its positive impact. The objective of this PDS class is to teach students the skills to be independent, reliable, self-driven, responsible, and hard-working. PDS teachers agree that after the end of the students’ studies, they want to see students gain the ability to manage their own lives, using entrepreneurship skills to do this.


In order to facilitate teaching these skills, teachers came up with the idea to form various clubs in their schools in order to shape students into the best version of themselves for the future. To make this happen effectively, TFFT’s Full Circle Program arranged a training to equip teachers with the knowledge and skill to run these after school clubs. We are happy to say that this training was a huge success!

We agreed to have clubs that are zero cent costs to run, and that was possible. We had a discussion for each school to think of what kind of clubs are suitable for them. Some of the clubs proposed include: painting and drawing, gardening and seeding, acrobatics, cooking, poetry and gift making, and debate, among many more.


I am glad because students from these schools will have the opportunity to experience some manual work, which will help them learn how to earn some money. When they are back at home, scholars can engage in these activities to earn some profit and help feed the family. Also, they can teach siblings and parents how to cook, gardening, etc.

I will follow up on this to see the progress at school. Teachers are ready to support and volunteer their free time to help run school clubs. With these clubs in place, our students will be confident and responsible citizens, adding values to their families and communities. Our piloting project helps Tanzanian schools to provide students essential life skills, gained through clubs. At TFFT, we saw the need, and following our mission, we implemented PDS through our Full Circle Program. We strive to help as many students as possible, both within our Scholarship Program, and outside of it, so that they may find employment and reach full potential in life. Stay tuned for an update about the progress of PDS and the school clubs. Thank you!


Posted in Full Circle, Psychosocial + Health, Tanzania, Teacher Training | Comments closed

Meet Abednego, 2016 RIDETZ student rider!

June 24, 2016

Today we are in for a special treat!! One student rider participates in each RIDETZ journey, nominated based on his or her academic efforts, motivation, and drive. This year, the group is fortunate to have TFFT Scholar Abednego Augustino  along for the ride! Abednego wrote an honest and inspiring introduction to share with you about his life at home, as a TFFT Scholar, and what he looks forward to on RIDETZ. Introducing Abednego!

My name is Abednego Augustino. I am 12 years old. I came from Ngarenaro in Arusha. My life before joining TFFT was not so good. I live with my grandmother. Her name is Mery Augustino. She loves me so much and I love her so much too because she is my mother and my father. My parents died when I was young, so my grandfather came and took me from Mto wa Mbu.


I started staying with my grandparents when I was 2 years old. Now I am 12 years old, and I still stay with my grandmother. She takes good care of me. When I joined TFFT, my life changed for the better. I thank TFFT so much for their help.

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I feel very excited to participate in RIDETZ and the meet the riders. My goal for this trip is to successfully finish the ride to Pangani.


During school breaks, I help my grandmother in washing clothes, mopping the house, and cooking. I also make time to take a bath in the morning and in the evening, and do my holiday assignments which the school gave me before we closed school. I play with my friends. We play football and the games. I like talking to people, chatting with friends, and running. My favorite color is blue because it is one of the colors in our national flag.

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My favorite subjects are Mathematics, Science, and History. I like these subjects because my teachers in these subjects teach well. I work hard in school to do well in my studies.


Posted in Events, Introductions, RIDETZ, TFFT Student Work | Comments closed

There they go!!

June 21, 2016


Our awesome group of RIDETZ riders set off on their 400 mile journey this morning! In 10 days’ time, the participants will bike from Mt. Kilimanjaro to the coast for a cause. Along for the ride is student rider, Abednego!!

The send off was quite the send off! On day one, TFFT scholars lined the dirt road clapping, cheering, smiling, and wishing the riders good luck as they launched off on their adventure.  Riders took everything in, high-fiving the scholars, and getting last minute glimpses of the faces, the children they were riding for.


They are off to a great start! Stay tuned for pictures, stories, and updates!

Posted in RIDETZ, Tanzania | Comments closed

Meet Henri, 2016 RIDETZ Rider

June 16, 2016

Only TWO DAYS until RIDETZ takes off!! We have one more wonderful rider to introduce who completes 2016’s team of adventurers. Thank you for sharing in our excitement over the past couple months! Don’t forget to learn about all of the riders before they leave, and then make sure to follow along on our blog for updates on the journey as we post throughout the trip! Today, we are thrilled to introduce returning rider and dedicated supporter, Henri Bianucci.


My name is Henri Bianucci, and I am originally from the North Shore of Chicago, but, for the past 17 years, Wadmalaw Island/Charleston, SC has been my home. I am a Veterinary Surgeon, and co-founder of Veterinary Specialty Care, in Mount Pleasant. I perform a range of specialty surgeries on a referral basis, and our hospital serves the coastal region of South Carolina, offering Cardiology, Neurology, Oncology, Internal Medicine, and Emergency Medicine. Our most recent, famous, patient was Caitlyn, the Pit Bull who had her muzzel cruelly taped shut, necessitating multiple reconstructive procedures.


My inspiration is truly a composite of so many people who have helped to guide my life, and the list continues to grow daily. The common thread connecting these people was that they all knew me, and knew that the best advice was to guide me to pursue what I really loved. I have loved helping animals since I was a kid, so I’m really doing what I have always done, its just a bit more technical now.


The rest of the time, I love to spend doing anything with my wife, Susan, or my daughters, Miller and Macon. We live on 15 acres in the woods, so the rest of my time is spent there with our 8 dogs, 2 horses, cat, and 6 chickens, either doing work or working out in some way. Often a long bike ride.



I rode in the premier RIDETZ event in 2010 with my family. This all came about because they, (Susan, Miller , and Macon) connected with Meghann via a common interest in the N’koranga orphanage in 2008. Ever since then Meghann has been a truly inspirational figure in all of our lives, and has significantly influenced the lives of my daughters. The opportunity to do this again with Miller was just too good to pass on, and as she enters into her career path, the opportunity may not present itself again. The last ride for me was a real challenge. It was physically demanding, but so enriching in every respect. I, and my family, believe in the work of TFFT, and we are so proud to give our support to it.


Posted in Introductions, RIDETZ | Comments closed

Save the date!!

June 14, 2016


Please join us for TFFT’s annual South of the Sahara Gala! Make sure to mark your calendar…you don’t want to miss out! This year is extra special, as we celebrate our 10th anniversary!!


Come and help us honor our work, which has had such a positive impact on the most vulnerable of society in Tanzania. This night to remember includes dinner, dancing, and live and silent auctions.

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You can be a part of this!

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And this!

Visit our Facebook page to see more!


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Meet Amie, 2016 RIDETZ Rider

June 10, 2016

Only ONE WEEK left until RIDETZ!! We have a couple more wonderful, enthusiastic people to introduce who complete 2016’s team of adventurers. Learn about all of the riders before they leave, and then make sure to follow along on our blog for updates on the journey as we post throughout the trip! They take off on June 18th for this once in a lifetime experience. Today, we are thrilled to introduce first-time rider and dedicated supporter, Amie Kiehn!


Where are you from? 

What an excellent question…I am a Midwest kid with some California roots. I consider both Chicago and the Bay Area home. 

What do you do for work?

I had the great luck and privilege to work with Meghann Gunderman’s champion mother Kathleen Hessert. The Gunderman women are quite exceptional and I got to experience their awe-inspiring leadership while working in the office in Charlotte, NC.


What do you like to do in your spare time?

I am now a SoulCycle addict after prepping my body for this glorious adventure with RideTZ. Riding has become such a soul-invigorating activity and I am forever grateful for RIDETZ to spur a new hobby. I also spend a lot of time activating my creative side (drawing, painting, writing and reading).

Who is your inspiration in life?

I have encountered many people who serve as inspirations, or #Warriors as I refer to them on social media. Some I only met at an airport gate for 10 minutes but they left a profound impact on me, and others have been dear friends for over 13 years who have reminded me of human strength and compassion. I have too many specifics to name right now so I suggest taking a 10 minute social media break and read about some awesome #Warriors (they are wearing shirts with the word #Warrior on them) here:

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How did you hear about RIDETZ? 

The energy around TFFT’s mission is electrifying when you share an office together! I was hearing from Ray, Maggie, Meghann and Kaitlin about the BRAVE work their whole team was cultivating and doing and it was natural to want to be a part of it. So when Meghann and Kaitlin told me about RIDETZ, I couldn’t help but think “Yes, this is what I want to do. I am going to prove to myself that I can do hard things” ….so I signed up.

What inspired you to ride this June?

Thinking about turning 28 this year I was feeling like I needed to do something terrifyingly brave to prove to myself that if I put my mind to something, I can do really hard things. I did a marathon in 2012 and it gave my body and life a serious shot of a adrenaline and helped to remind me that I should stop underestimating myself. I needed another shot of adrenaline and the mission and the goal of RideTZ matched with mine.


Are you celebrating any milestone with RIDETZ?

Soley personal – Don’t count Amie Kiehn out. She can do really hard things.

What is your favorite place to ride? (Besides Tanzania, of course!)

I relocated to the Bay Area recently and that surely has been my favorite place to ride (oh those hills!) because it’s picturesque every way you look. I’m a lucky gal…

Posted in Introductions, RIDETZ | Comments closed

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