Farewell

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Oh TFFT Blog Reading Community! I may not know you, I may have never met you, maybe I have emailed with you…if you are a sponsor, I probably know your name and address by heart. Well, whatever our connection, I have been writing to you for a long time now. After over 3 years of working for TFFT, it is sadly time for me to send a farewell.

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I would like to take you back to the first blog I wrote for TFFT, an introduction to me—I wrote this blog, sitting in my childhood room in my parent’s house, surrounded by clothes and suitcases the night before I left to come to Tanzania. I wrote that blog as a very different person, in a very different circumstance. Now, I have built a huge network and family in Tanzania (including a certain group of 112 students). I have greatly improved my Kiswahili since the time that I accidentally said “Wash me!” instead of “Leave me alone” to someone pestering me on the street. I have learned how to manage a program, do a baseline study, work with students and teachers alike, drive in a very ad-hoc traffic situation, and I know how to pay for electricity through my phone.

Clearly, we have come a long way!

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I cannot possibly convey the impact the working for TFFT has made in my life. The work experiences that I have had, the support I have received, and the things I have learned are invaluable to me. I might be biased, but never in my work experiences, or in any organizations that I have seen, have I witnessed a more cohesive and dedicated staff. As we celebrated my time at TFFT last week with a lunch, the memories were flowing—and I wouldn’t trade them for the world!

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I am very excited to have the opportunity to use the skills and knowledge I have gained with The Foundation For Tomorrow in a new position, with a new organization called AgriCorps in Ghana. I am inspired and looking forward to seeing what this will bring to my life, knowledge, and skills. I think back to the people and experiences that shaped me in my TFFT adventure and remind myself of this as I face the same anxiety and fear that I did when I boarded a plane to Tanzania in 2011.

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I will be eternally grateful that I went ahead and boarded that plane! And each of you has played a part in my experience. Thank you to all of you—the supporters, the donors, the partners, the sponsors, the people who are inspired by TFFT’s Mission and Vision! Thank you for your contribution to our work, and my work experience. Thank you for holding dearly the rights of children and supporting TFFT to work in this. It has been a huge honor working with all of you! Karibuni Ghana and I can’t wait to see what TFFT’s future has in store!

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My Summer Home

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Hi, my name is Lucy Pitts and I am so excited about working in the Charlotte office for TFFT! I am starting my junior year at Rhodes College in the fall, but I went to high school and grew up right here in Charlotte, NC. I am an education and adolescent psychology major at Rhodes.

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My family has always had a passion for helping children and growing up my parents instilled the importance of giving back to the community. When I was about 10, my family and I traveled to Tanzania for the first time. We went with a group called Young Life Africa. While there, we were part of hosting a camp for kids of all ages. I loved it. Even though I was young, I knew that my heart was not going to let me leave this place and not come back. I have now been to Africa many times with Young Life Africa. I have worked in an orphanage; lived in a Maasi village; helped build a school; and climbed Kilimanjaro.

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In high school I learned about TFFT during my senior year and volunteered for a little, but I really wanted to get more involved! So here I am sitting at my desk surrounded by wonderful people (Ramon, Maggie and Meghann) ready to work hard! On my first day here I was immediately welcomed and put to work. Ramon and I have been working on the Scholar Handbook, which I am honored to be apart of! It is awesome getting to see how it all works.

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I admire TFFT’s message and purpose to support and educate kids in Tanzania. I have no doubt I will be in Tanzania soon to hopefully meet all these great teachers and staff over there! I know this internship will be the highlight of my summer because this work is so rewarding and meaningful. I could not have asked for a better internship!

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Third Time’s a Charm

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As I completed my final exams of junior year, packed my car, left Clemson in the rearview mirror, and headed home to Charlotte, I had one thing on my mind: summer. While summer is a special time for many reasons – going to the beach, being home with family, taking a break from school – it’s an extra special time for me because summer is the time when I get to work full-time for TFFT. While I’m able to stay up to date with TFFT during the school year through assisting in gala planning and coordinating the communication with our sponsors, there’s something different about being in the office. I love walking in each day, sitting down at my desk, and knowing that for the next 8 hours, everything that I will do (no matter how random it may seem), will benefit our 114 scholars.

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I began work in mid-May, which meant that the Annual Fund campaign was in full force. While this meant that there were mailouts to send and thank you notes to write, this was still an exciting time because thanks to all of you who participated in the Annual Fund, we were able to exceed our Annual Fund goal by 38%! To see the excitement on Meghann’s face and to hear how much this fund will allow us to thrive and grow made each minute spent writing a thank you note so worth it.

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Now that the Annual Fund has wrapped up, I am beginning to work on some new projects. As part of our sponsor communications, I designed postcards for sponsors to send to their scholars in Tanzania. This should make communicating with scholars a little bit easier for sponsors, as they can fill out the postcards and pop them in the mail. I know there will be tons of smiles and excitement once those postcards reach TZ.

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I am also beginning the planning for our 9th Annual SOS Gala (mark your calendars – November 6th!). Even though November seems far away, it will be here before we know it, and there is much work to be done. If you are interested in being on our event committee, send me an email at Maggie@TheFoundationForTomorrow.org – I would love to talk with you about it!

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Lastly, I will be working with TFFT’s newest interns for this summer – Lucy, Lambeth, and Grace. I’m excited to see all of the new ideas they will bring and to show them why TFFT is so special. I’m looking forward to working with Ray, and I can already tell how much of a positive difference he’s making with TFFT. His 9-year-old son has come into the office a couple times this summer, and he’s the highlight of the office (Meghann’s Labradoodle Kona, who I love so much, might have some competition for favorite office visitor!). I’m also excited to spend more time with Meghann, since she’ll be in the U.S. this summer. She brings so much fun into the office each day (which sometimes includes jumping in the air with Annual Fund joy) and I learn so much from her each summer – I know this year will be no different. And as I type this post, while sitting in Kaitlin’s desk, it reminds me how sad I am that this is my first summer without Kaitlin’s glowing presence in the Charlotte office. I can see her smiling face in this picture on my desk in the meantime, but I can’t wait for her to come visit Charlotte soon!

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So as I begin my third summer with TFFT, I know this year will be the best yet!

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Providing Life Skills Toolkits

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After a baseline study, curriculum development, and teacher training, the final piece of the Life Skills in Schools pilot program is FINALLY complete—providing resource toolkits! I have to say, this was probably the most rewarding part of the pilot for me because you have never seen a kid happier than one who loves football (soccer), and their school just received a football for the first time!

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Resource provision is not generally a strategy that we like to use at TFFT because of the costs and the lack of sustainability. However, resource provision is critical at times. If you think of an American classroom and the number of resources that are available to students, it is amazing. And I’m not just talking about things like Smart boards and laptops…things like chalk, jump ropes, and scissors are supplies that many schools in Tanzania run short on. So, for the sake of our pilot, we provided schools with a few basic things to conduct the activities in the curriculum teaching guide. For me, it looked like a challenge from “Amazing Race” (God bless our phenomenal driver, Deo!) to find random things at hardware stores that could be repurposed for resources in the guide. (Full Circle also focuses on sharpening problem solving skills)CC6IMG-20150429-WA0004

After many delays, interns, and trips to the hardware shop, we finally created the Full Circle toolkit! And the reward of seeing teachers’ and students’ excitement of receiving teaching and playing resources was worth it all!   So Deo and I spent 3 days driving all over the Meru area delivering the much-anticipated toolkits! I have to admit—I loved it. The beautiful Tanzanian landscape is a great reminder as to why you spent last night turning kitchen sponges into playing dice!  Note to self – next time don’t do this during rainy season!

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As I said, resource provision is not a long-term strategy for TFFT, but it helps us work towards the larger picture. For the Life Skills pilot, this picture is a student leaving primary school with the skills to problem solve, make healthy decisions, care for themselves and their families, relate well with others, be creative, and set goals. We want to see teachers who are engaged with their students and use activities to teach in and out of the classroom. We want to see schools that prioritize the very critical “other” education that students should receive in school. If we can contribute towards achieving this in these 10 schools, and later, across Tanzania…I will be a very happy person!

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I think it’s safe to say they really appreciated the toolkits…

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REALLY appreciated them!

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A Warm Welcome to the Midwest

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Chicago has always had a special place in TFFT’s heart, and since my move here last summer, I’ve been eager to continue to grow our Chicago presence. On Thursday, May 7, 2015, Bliss Weddings + Events hosted our inaugural Chicago event and official launch party. It was an evening to remember!

Lauren Carter, Katie Kozlowski and the entire Bliss Weddings + Events team worked incredibly hard to plan this wonderful evening. Bliss is known for dreaming up impeccable events and flawlessly executing them. They are an absolute JOY to work with and make you believe anything is possible. Moreover, they donated 100% of their time and talent to make this event happen. We really won the lottery with this one!

The event created an opportunity for new and sustaining TFFT supporters to visit and socialize while learning more about TFFT’s mission. Guests included RIDETZ alumni, many sponsors of TFFT Scholars, and even my third grade teacher. Two special families traveled from Charleston, SC specifically to introduce TFFT to family and friends who live in the Chicago area—talk about supportive!!

Moonlight Studios glowed in candlelight as guests enjoyed specialty cocktails thanks to Glenmorangie from Moet & Chandon and delicious food—including passed hors d’oeuvres that were as pretty as they were tasty—donated entirely by Limelight. Mary Monica Music set the mood and donated their musical talent. Rentals came from Halls, and Sound Investment provided AV and lighting.

We are always amazing by the generosity of our TFFT’s Family. This was especially true as we watched the gift thermometer rise throughout the night! Moreover, thanks to the kindness of our vendors’ in-kind donations, 100% of the gifts from the event will directly benefit the TFFT Scholars, teachers, and students TFFT empowers.

We felt so warmly welcomed in Chicago, and we are overjoyed to plant some Midwest roots and grow our network here. Thanks to the attendees, donors, and all of our vendors for a wonderful evening!

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You did it!!

June 1, 2015

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WOW!! You really blew us away. Together you knocked the socks off our Annual Fund goal. Even without the match, you helped us exceed our goal by 15%. On top of that, you made it possible for us to receive the entire $15,000 match, which bumped us up to 138% of our original goal!

Again, WOW.

We are humbled and inspired by your generosity.

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Even more than the dollars raised, your outpouring of support speaks so highly of this community of supporters. We love Margaret Mead’s famous words:

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

TFFT is a powerful community of thoughtful, committed citizens. When we look at the list of Annual Fund donors, we see the backbone of TFFT.

We see people who have invested in TFFT since the very beginning, people who have peddled 400 miles with us in Tanzania, people who sponsor our scholars, people who sweat for TFFT through races, people who volunteer hours of their talent, and people who celebrate TFFT at every event.

Thank you for the many ways you come together to do great things with TFFT. Right now our team is undergoing an intensive strategic planning session to evaluate where we are and what we will accomplish in the next 3 years. Your generous support of the Annual Fund will make it possible to continue to make a true difference in the lives of our TFFT Scholars (like Ashura, pictured above) and thousands of other children in Tanzania.

Thank you!

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We Have a Secret!

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From now until the end of the campaign—May 31, 2015—loyal TFFT supporters have offered an extremely generous gift. All contributions to the Annual Fund, up to $12,500, will be doubled! That means every dollar you give between now and May 31st, 2015 will count not once, but twice.

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If we don’t reach our $12,500 goal, we will not be able to claim the entire $12,500 matching gift. Please help us ensure we reach the full potential of this generous offer!

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This campaign only happens once a year, and gifts to the Annual Fund—of ALL amounts—help The Foundation For Tomorrow reach its goals by providing financial support for critical day-to-day operations.

To support the 2015 Annual Fund, please click here. It’s no secret that your support will go a long way toward helping TFFT achieve its goals in the coming year!

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PDS Teacher Training

April 29, 2015

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Yes, TFFT-Tanzania has had a very busy first quarter of the year! The world of Full Circle has been no different. We have had a very exciting start to the year as well.

At the end of May, we finished the training of 26 teachers and Ward Education Coordinators in life skills education and participatory learning. The training was 4 days and served as the introduction to the curriculum pilot that Full Circle is running in 10 schools this year!

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Day one of the training was all about life skills and the differences between teaching skills and teaching knowledge. Day two, we covered the Experiential Learning Cycle and discussed how this is applicable in their classrooms and teaching life skills. We also went step-by-step through the Full Circle curriculum for the Personality Development and Sports subject that we are piloting.

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Days 3 and 4 were the best! After covering a lot of topics and using activities to teach the teachers, it was their turn to teach us. Breaking into groups, the teachers prepared grade-level appropriate lessons to teach the whole group life skills. The teachers then gave pertinent feedback to the groups to help them improve their lessons. Participants came from private and government, English- and Kiwahili-medium schools and ranged in experience from a few months to nearly 30 years! This activity was a great way to see how teachers are teaching and for them to learn from each other, discuss issues, and share ideas.

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Some of the things that we heard from teachers during and after the training were:

“After I finish this course, I will be more creative in my classroom!”

“When I finish this training, I will develop different ideas with my students and myself—starting small businesses, changing my teaching strategies and so on.”

“I am very happy attending this training this week. I started being a WEC (Ward Education Coordinator) in 2002, before [Personality Development and Sports Class] was introduced. We never get refresher courses, even when new curricula is introduced. It was better when I was a teacher in school because I can take the [Personality Development and Sports Class] book and read it but there is only one in the school. So if I, now being a [Ward Education Coordinator], take the book, what will the teachers use? That is why attending this training has been very helpful to me.”

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In addition to the training, we finally printed and bound the final versions of the English and Kiswahili curriculum! I have to give a big thanks to my colleagues for helping with this. One of the reasons I love TFFT is the sense of family—having your boss, Ken and co-worker, Melissa give up their Saturday to help copy and bind books in the office is a pretty awesome thing 😉

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Food for Thought Friday

April 23, 2015

MEGHANN

 

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My family members are staunch Notre Dame people—they bleed green and gold. Today, I want to share excerpts from “Reflection” a short essay by Notre Dame alum Tony Pohlen ’97. While TFFT is and always will be a secular organization, I hope this will resonate regardless of your religious affiliation. In his piece Pohlen points to a prayer Father Hesburgh always used to bless his meals. “O God, to those who have hunger, give bread; and to us who have bread, give the hunger for justice.”

He then goes on to say:

Some in our world hunger for a morsel of bread. Others thirst for potable water. Many hunger for access to quality and affordable health care. Many others thirst for education and a job that provides a living wage.

Our world certainly hungers and thirsts. Do I, who have an adequate amount of these tangible things, hunger enough for justice and the common good?

Tony continues to reflect on whether we might co-create a world in which fewer hunger for food to eat and thirst for water to drink—where no one lacks the love and dignity they deserve.

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So today I ask the question to you all: Would our world hunger and thirst so much if we all fought for justice?

My charge for you all now is to ACT.

TFFT acts each and every day. We advocate on behalf of orphan and vulnerable children, we fight for the rights of the most vulnerable to achieve quality education, we speak up on the value of teachers and provide them with tools and resources to develop themselves and their classrooms.

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I ask YOU to act on behalf of those who hunger and thirst. Use them as your energy and motivation to make this world a better place. Whether it is raising your voice to fight for those without, sharing your thoughts and opinions, reading to gain understanding, volunteering, or donating, ACT. I live with positivity and hope, I’ve seen it in action and wish for you all to witness it as well! I believe in a just world, and work to try and make that a reality day after day. I always say, Geography shouldn’t dictate how far an individual goes in their life, and the quality of education they receive.

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In closing, I echo Father Hesburgh’s thoughts.. “…To us who have bread, may we be given a hunger for justice.”

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Photo credit for all images: Image Is Found

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Teachers Co-create Kiswahili Stories for Mini-books Project

April 22, 2015

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I am happy to announce that The Foundation for Tomorrow is producing Kiswahili mini-books through the generous donation of WaterBridge Outreach. The mini-books were written by a selected group of primary teachers, Teacher Resource Center Coordinator Redempta Msacky and Ward Education Coordinator, Emmanuel Kaaya, all from Meru District here in Arusha.

During WaterBridge Outreach’s visit to Tanzania in October 2014, they saw the English leveled readers they donated through our literacy initiative being used by students to improve their reading skills. Peter Coughlan, WBO’s executive director, asked one of the teachers what else they need and the answer was: “We need Kiswahili storybooks” And WBO came through with a donation to make this possible. The plan was to produce mini-books in Kiswahili, some of them blank to encourage students to write their own stories and illustrate them.

The Teachers Training team set to work by bringing together a few teachers to co-create the Kiswahili mini-books and make it a reality. Two 1-day workshops later, the group finalized 8 simple stories in Kiswahili. A good twist to the plan was that the mini-stories they wrote also support their syllabi for Science and Health and Mathematics from K-3. We also found a local artist to render the illustrations for the stories. The photo that goes with this article is a sample illustration for a story about safe water. Right now, 5 of the stories were already illustrated. We are expecting that by end of April the mini-books would already be on their way to schools.

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We are in awe of the support that WaterBridge Outreach has extended and continue to extend to Teachers Training program initiatives. In my next blog I would be posting pictures of the work being done at Teacher Resource Center Leganga and for Sinai Primary School also through the generous help of WaterBridge Outreach.

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