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

MELISSA

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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Join Us In Chicago!

April 20, 2015

 

CHICAGO-INVITE

This is our Chicago debut, and we hope you’ll join us for an evening of good cheer in support of quality education in East Africa. Meghann Gunderman, TFFT’s Founder and Executive Director, will be in town for the occasion and looks forward to seeing you.

Chicago and the surrounding suburbs have been so good to TFFT over the years. With multiple sponsors of TFFT Scholars and many RIDETZ Alumni who call Chicago home, our Chicagoland TFFT community is growing! Mark your calendars and spread the word to your friends. We can’t wait to see you!

Read more and buy your tickets here.

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TFFT MEDIA CAMPAIGN

April 16, 2015

ANTON

In the end of the month of February, the TFFT team conducted a one-week media campaign advocating issues of Most Vulnerable Children and their access to quality education in Tanzania.

We conducted this campaign on 4 radio stations in Arusha. In addition to advocating the issue of most vulnerable children, the campaign also aimed to mobilize the community to participate and take action in addressing issues facing most vulnerable children, to be accountable for most vulnerable children, and to improve the quality education in Tanzania. We urged listeners to understand the current situation of education system in the country and rightly hold responsible those who are in position of authority in the education sector at different leadership levels.

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This was also a call for the community to take action on addressing the challenges in the education system and also on most vulnerable children. We believe the community should release the notion that only the government and charity organizations should be the only ones working to improve the quality of education and supporting most vulnerable children and their households.

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The campaign was held in 4 radio station each with a space of 1-hour interviews of the anchors and TFFT staff, Kennedy Oulu, Uswege Mwakapango, and myself, Anton Asukile. The radios were Radio 5 FM (@fmradio5), Mambo Jambo Radio (MJ93fm), Arusha One FM and Sunrise FM Radio (@sunrisefmradio). We used the hashtag  #TuwaleeTuwajibikeTuchukueHatua, Swahili for #CareBeAccountableTakeAction, for the campaign.

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JOIN US!

March 31, 2015

KAITLIN 5

Meghann and I are up tonight tag-teaming the prep work for the March newsletter. The Chicago streets are quiet, and I think the ground is finally thawing. I’m imagining Kona’s puppy head is nestled against Meghann on her couch back in Charlotte. Our teammates in Tanzania are just waking to start their day.

As we write these newsletters each month, we think about what will excite you.

Then after the moment of truth, when I hit send, the nerd in me waits for the statistics. How many opens? A click! How many clicks? Which button will have the most clicks?! Ohhh the analytics!

The button the receives more clicks than any other is “JOIN US”!

As someone dedicated to helping engage our supporters, this is music to my ears.

The quest for meaningful involvement, however, is tricky because Tanzania is far away for most readers. However there are many ways that we could use your help from wherever you are. Our small-but-mighty team relies heavily on volunteers and interns. Harnessing the unique strengths and talents of our supporters has helped TFFT grow.

We are currently looking for the following volunteer positions:

Volunteer Coordinator: The more volunteers we have, the more we need help with project management for volunteers. Are you a results-oriented, people person? Could you help motivate, empower, and encourage our army of volunteers? The more organized our volunteer efforts, the more impactful everyone’s hard work will be. Is this you? Email Kaitlin {at} TheFoundationForTomorrow {dot} org.

Social Media Manager: From awareness building, to sharing TFFT’s impact with supporters, to spreading the joy of the TFFT’s Scholars’ faces, we are looking for the right person to manage our social media accounts. Could this be you? Email Kaitlin {at} TheFoundationForTomorrow {dot} org.

Graphic designer: We are always in need of graphic design work. From invitations, to web banners, to informational brochures, we could use your creative touch to help us communicate TFFT’s message. Interested? Email Kaitlin {at} TheFoundationForTomorrow {dot} org.

Team TFFT Cheerleader: Especially with ITriForGood, it is easier than ever for athletes to turn a physical challenge into an amazing effort to support TFFT’s work. Last year supporters sweated for TFFT in South Africa, Spain, Tanzania, and all over the USA. Could you help inspire our Team TFFT athletes through their training and fundraising and cheer them on on race day? Shoot me an email and say so… Kaitlin {at} TheFoundationForTomorrow {dot} org.

RIDETZ Recruitment Chair: We want you to work with us to recruit a new group of ambitious and inspiring riders. Would you help design and implement a RIDETZ Recruitment Strategy for 2016? Think of how many more people we could reach. Don’t waste any time… email me Kaitlin {at} TheFoundationForTomorrow {dot} org.

Web developer wizard: Don’t you think it’s time to spruce things up around here? We do too! Could you help us make a strong first impression with a website that reflects the organization we have grown to be? Drop me an email (Kaitlin {at} TheFoundationForTomorrow {dot} org), and I will do a major happy dance!!

Donation page customization magician: We want to improve the donor experience on our donation page. This bite-size web development project is perfect for someone with coding experience but not enough time to devote to revamping the entire website. Do you speak code? Is this something you can do? If so, you’re amazing. Email me, pretty please… Kaitlin {at} TheFoundationForTomorrow {dot} org.

These are certainly not the only ways to be involved, but these are some areas where we have identified great need. Filling these volunteer positions would really strengthen our team.

Will you JOIN US?

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Inside TFFT’s Annual Programme Review: Musings for 2015

March 25, 2015

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YES-We did it again, this January 29-30, 2015, at King Solomon Hall in Arusha we hosted our Annual Programme Review. We established TFFT’s Annual Programme Review in the interest of learning and accountability. We use these action-packed sessions to share our progress and challenges of the previous year and to absorb ideas, lessons, and experiences from other stakeholders. This exercise helps us improve our service delivery and develop more appropriate solutions to education challenges and the plight of most vulnerable children (MVC).

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It is always hectic coordinating partners, including civil society organizations, orphanages and children centers, private and NGO run schools, media, government officials, and beneficiaries. Nevertheless the value of the review stems from the multidisciplinary participation.

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Over the course of two days, our program managers present an overview of their program, and in-depth discussions follow each presentation.

This year, among other topics, we discussed:

How best to expand engagement of guardians and their accountability in providing quality care to scholars?

What role should schools (together with other stakeholders) play in improving academic, behavioral and talent development in scholars?

How best can mentoring and coaching of scholars and teachers be leveraged through networks with stakeholders?

How do we sustain buy-in with Government and stakeholders to pilot the newly improved personality and Sports Development curriculum with schools following the successful baseline conducted by TFFT?

The most critical question to stem from the challenges in 2014 was:

How to effectively deal with the “allowance syndrome” and sustain teacher motivation in professional development?

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We also identified our priorities for 2015:

  • Develop the new strategic plan 2015-2020
  • Piloting new projects such as Personality Development and Sports curriculum and Co-school management
  • Media advocacy on MVC
  • Expanding Household Economic Strengthening component
  • Teacher motivation and mentoring
  • Co-creation of learning and teaching resources and,
  • Strengthening (with District Government) quality of care in orphanages and children centers in Meru District

We learned many lessons during the brainstorming session with boundary partners that we will strive to integrate. We see great opportunity for engaging media in advocating on behalf of the most vulnerable children. We will continue to work towards strengthening and formalizing partnerships. We will strive for joint coordination of teacher training and mentoring that will involve regular discussions with schools, guardians, and scholars.

TFFT is shifting away from service provision to developing and providing solutions to the key challenges that afflict most vulnerable children and education in Tanzania. We will integrate learning through technology, programming, pilots and studies to model innovations that inform change. We will increasingly work hand in hand with stakeholders (CSOs, Private Sector) and government as partners to scale up solutions to the twin problems of quality education and most vulnerable children.

We thank you all: My African Child, Mkombozi, AfricAID, Step By Step Learning Centre, Secondary Education for Girls’ Advancement, &Beyond, Seeway Tanzania, and many others whose ideas continue to inform our work.

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And so it begins!

March 2, 2015

MARY-HILL

The goodbyes to family, friends, and especially my dogs :) were (as always) a bit sad, but I am now so happy to say that after about 24 hours of travel, I finally made it to Arusha, Tanzania! My flights over went smoothly, and luckily all of my bags made it here in one piece. It was wonderful driving from the airport to Arusha, as it brought back so many wonderful memories from two summers ago when I was here!

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Mt. Meru

Friday morning, Meghann and I went on a nice and hilly run, which was good because getting adjusted to the terrain and altitude helped prepare me for the race on Sunday. During the day on Friday, I joined TFFT Team Members, Chloe, Hedwiga, Melissa, and Ken for a meeting they had with education coordinators from around the Arusha area. In the meeting, each Team Member presented the program they are in charge of, as well as discussed dates and actions for improving their programs this year.

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On Sunday, Meghann, Uswege, and I woke up at 4:15am to make the drive to the town of Moshi where Mt. Kilimanjaro is! We got to the Ushirika Stadium with about an hour to stretch and get our minds set for the big race ahead of us. Needless to say, the half-marathon was one of the coolest things I have ever done. It wasn’t easy, but was most definitely worth it. The first half of the race was spent running uphill with beautiful views and many villagers cheering us on. We even ran a bit of this part of the race on dirt trails with the lush trees surrounding us. The second half of the race was spent going downhill, which was nice after spending so much time running uphill! The last 7km was probably the most difficult part of the race for me, as my muscles were aching and my legs were wearing on me. However, I forced myself to keep a positive mindset, and to keep telling myself, “It doesn’t hurt” and “You can do it.” And… I finished! I felt very proud to finish the race, but even more proud to be supporting TFFT’s efforts while running.

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Meghann, Uswege, and me at the Kilimanjaro Marathon

After the race the TFFT Team went on a hike to the Marangu Waterfall, where we relaxed and enjoyed some snacks for the afternoon. It felt so good to “ice” our muscles in the pools of the waterfall, and the site was just stunning!

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Marangu Waterfall

Today, I will be moving into the Matonyok Parents’ Trust Orphanage, and I could not be more excited. Two summers ago, I spent three weeks living there, and fell in love with the children and lifestyle. There is something about the genuine, grounded, and loving atmosphere at Matonyok that has taken my heart. Part of my job there will be to help assist class and tend to the daily chores around the orphanage with the children! I can’t put to words my excitement to see the children again, as I know they have grown to be even more amazing and inspiring individuals.

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Matonyok Parents’ Trust 2013

 

 

 

 

 

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Back in Tanzania!

February 25, 2015

MEGHANN

I arrived in Tanzania 7 days ago and I am already feeling at peace. I arrived mid day and a friendly face greeted me at the airport. I then went to my favourite restaurant Fig and Olive to pick up my house keys and carried on home and to the grocery store to get properly set up. The first week was consumed with meetings to try to finalise obtaining land for a new project we are working on. Negotiating land contracts in Tanzania with foreign laws and understanding land use were never things I thought I would need to have in my arsenal, but lets just say in the past 8 years launching and running TFFT has taught me a WIDE range of things, a blessing I will never go a day without acknowledging.

Photo credit: Image Is Found

People always are shocked my trips over are 6+ weeks, but in all honesty I never feel like it is enough. Maybe it is being with the team or loving the inspiration our scholars provide, or being out at schools and in the orphanages we work with seeing the determination and change first hand. It is combination I will never be able to get enough of.

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This week I’ve seen a good deal of our older scholars, which has been nice. Spending time with the scholars in small groups has made it possible to genuinely know and understand how they are doing. Form 4 National Exam results came out last week, so we are celebrating today with those scholars, while also goal setting and talking through plans for their next steps.

We’ve also spent the first part of this week talking on different radio stations about orphan and vulnerable children and how quality education plays a role in ensuring their success. Its great to see these invitations come; it is a direct result of Anton’s work with the Media workshop and our advocacy work paying off. It is nice to see the local community believe they too can be a part of the change, impacting even just one person’s life!

This week ends with the Kilimanjaro Half Marathon. I am clearly running for more than exercise. I am running to advocate on behalf of our scholars. I am running to improve the state of this world. I am running to ensure TFFT has more tools to train teachers and develop life skills curriculum. While it isn’t the most fun, seeing as it’s 6.5 miles up and then 6.6 miles down, it has more meaning than any other race I have run. It has purpose and so does our work. I hope some of you will consider donating and helping me reach my goal. This morning I am 81% there and I have 4 days left – you can read more about it and donate here.

Thanks again for following along in the TFFT journey–know you to can be a part of this impact and we are happy to have the village behinds us making TFFT’s work possible!

Photo credit: Image Is Found

All photos by The Image Is Found

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JUST BE WITH US

February 23, 2015

MARY-HILL

Hello! We are so excited to have one of our TFFT Scholars, Nicemary Felix, write a blog post for you all today! Nicemary has been involved with an organization called JUST BE WITH US. The organization works to provide awareness of HIV/AIDS through planting trees and educating others more about the disease. Read Nicemary’s post below to learn a little more about this awesome community service project she has put so much of her heart into…

JUST BE WITH US — An essay by TFFT Scholar, Nicemary Felix

JUST BE WITH US is an organization that we started in July of 2014. We came up with the name JUST BE WITH US because we want to do good for different people from around the world.

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JUST BE WITH US has been doing different projects and working with government schools and different organizations to plant trees, as well as educate others about HIV/AIDS. One of TFFT’s partner orphanages, Matonyok Parents’ Trust, is one of many of the schools that we plan to plant trees and teach others about HIV/AIDS at.

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The Foundation for Tomorrow has helped JUST BE WITH US through its support with helpful pieces of advice on how to expand the organization into doing more projects in different locations.

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We are looking for more volunteers to help with the activities that we have been doing from simply helping us to plant trees, to helping us teach about HIV/AIDS in the community.

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Our current goal is to reach more than 20 schools in the Arusha area of Tanzania. With our goal, optimism, and perseverance we feel JUST BE WITH US is on the way to becoming a huge success.

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Media Workshop

February 13, 2015

ANTON

Last month in Arusha, TFFT organized a workshop for 25 journalists who represent various nationwide media companies. The goal of the workshop was to engage the media in advocating for the issues of Orphans & Vulnerable Children (OVC) and child rights in Tanzania. TFFT convened these media representatives to enhance community awareness and to increase participation in addressing issues relating to OVC.

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Five radio stations, three television stations, and twelve newspapers were present for the workshop. We provided these journalists with an in-depth look at the situation of OVC in Tanzania. According to UNICEF, there are nearly 2 million Orphans in Tanzania. In addition to this, the numbers of unsupported OVC are nearly twice as likely to drop out of school than non-orphans. The facilitator of the workshop also shared in detail about general child rights according to the UN charter, of which Tanzania has signed and also according to the constitution of The United Republic of Tanzania.

A current challenge is community members’ perception that OVC are the problem. We urged the media to use their voices to change this perception. One of our goals of the workshop was to teach these journalists to inspire communities to have the desire to adress the challenges OVC face.

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We taught the journalists that OVC issues should be presented in a way that influence and inspires the community to participate and help solve the problems facing OVC. For example, we instructed the journalists to encourage entrepreneurship activities so that in the event of a child’s parent(s) passing, the child will still have the ability to gain the necessary support and means to live a successful life.

All in all, the workshop was very interactive and involved empowering group discussion in which the participants had the opportunity to share their own opinions, ideas and questions. Most of the journalists that spoke expressed their gratitude for the workshop, as it had opened their minds to the issues among OVC and Child Rights, and led them to feel more confident to advocate for these issues in their publications, news, reports, and/or articles.

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The workshop was reported on over 13 blogs and online news sites across Tanzania. The participants all agreed that the issue of OVC is a pressing one, and that this workshop has pushed them to make the issues OVC face a key priority in upcoming nation-wide media campaigns and networks.

A special thank you to the participants: Triple A FM (Anthony Masai), Radio 5 (David Rwenyangira), Ideo Radio (Daniel Lucas), Mambo Jambo FM (Rotlinde Achimpota), and Habari Maalum Media (Daniel Magulu and Edith Laizer), Star TV (Magesa Magesa), Channel Ten (Jamilla Omar), and Clouds TV (Beatrice Gerald), Majira (Queen Lema), Nipashe (John Bosco Ngunge), Mwananchi (Peter Saramba), Habari Leo (Veronica Mheta), Jambo Leo (Rose Kitosio), Mtanzania (Eliya Mbonea), Uhuru (Lilian Joel), Upendo (Jetrula Bernard), Arusha Times (Happy Lazaro and Wankyo Gati)), Tanzania Daima (David Frank), The African (Mary Mwita), The Guardian (Cynthia Mwilolezi), and lastly, the Jamii Blog (Pamela Mollel and Woinde Shiza).

Here are the links to the blog posts that resulted from the workshop (apologies to our English readers… they are all in Swahili!):

  1. https://www.bloglovin.com/blogs/michuzi-1158184/wanahabari-wahimizwa-kuwasilisha-masuala-4129187637
  2. http://eliabu.blogspot.com/2015/01/wanahabari-wahimizwa-kuwasilisha.html?utm_content=buffercc014&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer
  3. http://issamichuzi.blogspot.com/2015/01/wanahabari-wahimizwa-kuwasilisha.html
  4. http://www.africanewshub.com/news/2571867-wanahabari-wahimizwa-kuwasilisha-masuala-yahusuyo-watoto-yatima-na-waishio-katika-mazingira-magumu
  5. http://georgem.co.tz/showthread.php/35642-WANAHABARI-WAHIMIZWA-KUWASILISHA-MASUALA-YAHUSUYO-WATOTO-YATIMA-NA-WAISHIO-KATIKA-MAZINGIRA-MAGUMU
  6. https://plus.googleapis.com/+GadiolaEmanuel/posts/JMC9qJuhMGe
  7. http://wazalendo25.blogspot.com/2015/01/habari-na-matukio-wanahabari-wahimizwa.html
  8. http://www.fullshangweblog.com/2015/01/23/wanahabari-wahimizwa-kuwasilisha-masuala-yahusuyo-watoto-yatima-na-waishio-katika-mazingira-magumu/
  9. http://jamiiblog.co.tz/2015/01/23/wanahabari-wahimizwa-kuwasilisha-masuala-yahusuyo-watoto-yatima-na-waishio-katika-mazingira-magumu/
  10. http://www.tanzaniatoday.co.tz/news/wanahabari-wahimizwa-kuwasilisha-masuala-yahusuyo-watoto-yatima-na-waishio-katika-mazingira-magumu
  11. http://eaglentertainment.blogspot.com/2015/01/wanahabari-wahimizwa-kuwasilisha.html
  12. http://www.mtemizombwe.com/2015/01/wanahabari-wahimizwa-kuwasilisha-masuala-yahusuyo-watoto-yatima-na-waishio-katika-mazingira-magumu/
  13. https://www.facebook.com/elimtaamedia/posts/1550676238537090

Asante to all!

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