Full Circle Update

November 19, 2015


In 2005, Tanzania introduced a class called Personality Development and Sports (PDS) into primary school curriculum. This class aims to educate students on communication, decision-making, health, sports, teamwork, citizenship, and entrepreneurship knowledge and skills. However, limited curriculum and resources existed for PDS, and teachers were not trained to teach these topics. As a result, the class was not taken seriously.

This is where TFFT’s Full Circle’s initiative comes in. TFFT’s Full Circle Program focuses on these life skills topics. We are currently piloting a program in 10 schools to better equip teachers to offer quality life skills education in Tanzanian schools.  We have designed a three-part strategy to ensure that this class teaches students these important life skills. Our strategy includes: 1) an activity guide that correlates with Tanzania’s national curriculum, 2) teacher training, and 3) tool-kits containing materials to use for instruction and class activities. The success of this project has allowed TFFT to impact thousands of primary students across the country. Hilda, our Full Circle Program Manager, monitors the curriculum implementation in piloting schools. Here are her latest observations on the positive changes taking place in our piloting schools.

This past October, I had the opportunity to visit some of the PDS piloting schools, including Maua Primary, Tanzania Adventist, and Upendo Academy, to oversee the  progress of PDS Full Circle curriculum and toolkit use. Teachers’ use of TFFT’s Full Circle curriculum in conjunction with government PDS curriculum impressed me. The teachers have improved at utilizing various activities to support academic topics, and students express that they enjoy learning PDS.


Teachers report the experiential teaching technique is a superior method to straightforward instruction that does not incorporate hands-on activity into students’ experience. This way, students participate front and center in the PDS learning process. Students discuss how the new teaching techniques involve them frequently and assist with strengthening memorization skills, as they learn subject matter through working with and teaching peers. I have noticed continued improvement in student attitude and experience, as PDS classes work to actively include all students.


With the PDS class, students complete tasks, identify what the outcome of the task, and subsequently analyze and relate it to daily life. Teachers have shifted to a more friendly approach in teaching PDS, making students more open to sharing concerns with teachers.

Also, the sporting goods provided in TFFT’s toolkits has facilitated friendly athletic competition in the piloting schools. Students state that having access to sports equipment improves lifestyle health. Before receiving our toolkits, some schools had never before acquired any athletic equipment. TFFT has transformed many students’ lives by providing materials and resources that the government does not.


Sparked with energy to further athletic potential, students have begun compiling materials to create local toolkits with items from home communities. Items that they have available include homemade jump ropes and traditional balls. An increase in school attendance has correlated with this recent increase in sports; some students have resumed school attendance as a result of current athletic opportunities.


Upon noticing this progress and overall success in our piloting schools, some of TFFT’s private school partners have requested Full Circle training on PDS and expressed interest in purchasing toolkits. I look forward to furthering the teacher training, specifically with an emphasis on how to provide teachers the capacity to establish and manage clubs within piloting schools. Stay tuned!


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

TFFT Scholar Richard’s Letter

October 29, 2015


Today we are in for a treat! One of the TFFT Scholars, Richard Augustino, wrote a heartfelt and inspiring piece offering encouragement and advice to his fellow TFFT Scholars and expressing gratitude to TFFT’s wonderful supporters. Currently, Richard is completing his last year of secondary (high) school, and his dream is to be a computer science engineer. We would like to share some of his thoughts with you, because you make TFFT’s work possible. In doing so, you give all of our scholars meaning and purpose. You provide them with the opportunity to dream big and to create their own success.

The full speech was lengthy, so we are including excerpts below.


My name is Richard Augustino. I am happy that TFFT, including sponsors, have realized that today’s children will become tomorrow’s civilization. Bringing a child into the world today is a bit like dropping one into a tiger’s cage. Children can’t handle their environment and they have no real resources. They need love and help to make it. I do believe that TFFT and all other people they work with want us to make it. Remember that a child cannot survive if he does not have his feet put on the way to survival. Thank you, TFFT, for ensuring that we have a strong foundation, education for our bright future.

What makes my life meaningful is having my own dreams. I do believe that it doesn’t matter who I am, but what I will be in the future. What ignites my self-belief is the belief that TFFT has in me. Through the opportunity they have given me, I can dream big, think big, and bring big impact to make a difference.


Richard would love to obtain a university degree in the United States, yet he also strives to give back to his community and honor where he comes from. He measures his success based on his ability to do this.

I will not consider myself successful unless I establish a college in my community to make Information Communication Technology (ICT) courses available to the community I live in. [I believe that] in the world of today, no one can do without ICT. This is a big change that I will have to make in my community. I am full of these big dreams because TFFT has believed in me and supported me throughout my education.


Richard keeps his sights set on the future, focusing on his goals. He emphasizes the importance of self-discipline and takes initiative to turn his dreams into reality.

Through the help TFFT gives me, I realize my capabilities and am able to unlock them.

We should understand that TFFT has high expectations for us. This should make us set big goals to make their expectations happen.

You were created with natural abilities and an internal compass that guides you toward a particular focus for your life. TFFT is working hard to ensure that you are able to unleash your potential. Set yourself a goal and dedicate yourself 100% to it. It is your goal that makes you understand why you are in school. Each one of you should know what he/she wants to do after schooling. It is your goal that will inspire you to work hard and work smart for success in life.

John F. Kennedy said, “The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.” So don’t wait till the sunset. Be careful on how you use your time.


Thank you, TFFT supporters, for the great love and care you provide to all of our scholars. Richard and his fellow scholars have the resources for success because of you. Richard will be the first TFFT Scholar to attend university. He will apply to schools soon and has his sights set on attending a U.S. school. We’re all cheering him on!


Posted in Scholarship Program, TFFT Student Work | Comments closed

Attribution vs. Contribution

October 28, 2015


All in all my recent trip to Tanzania was invigorating. This summer TFFT’s Leadership Team examined the strategic plan and its findings. We determined our priorities for the next five years and in September we started mapping out an implementation plan. As I elaborated on in my last post, this plan addresses the changing context of education and vulnerability in Tanzania. Today I will share how our plan challenges us to strive for greater impact and to measure our contribution, in addition to our attribution.

We’ve always struggled with the idea of scaling our work, for fear of compromising the integrity of our programs. However, nine years in, our programs are in a place where they are ready to scale. In fact, at this point, scaling  them will strengthen our work.

As our team discussed our impact, Dr. McAlpine challenged us to look beyond our attribution, to our contribution. Attribution considers the direct results of a program. Did the program cause the intended immediate outcomes? Contribution casts a wider net and includes the indirect results of a program. Contribution is the ripple effect. The ripple effect is what grassroots change is all about–start with a seed, end with a forest. We spent our first nine years refining our seeds. Now we’re walking in the forest.


Take our Teachers Training Program for example. We need to understand our work beyond the direct change in the teachers who go through our training. The teacher we trained this year have since impacted thousands of students, who experienced a change in understanding, engagement, and behaviour as a result. We have begun to account for our partners’ and stakeholders’ behavioural changes as well as the direct outcomes of our interventions.

Our Scholarship Program is contributing self-reliant, dedicated, and driven leaders to society. Our Teachers Training Program’s contribution includes TFFT trained teachers who cascade trainings to fellow educators in their district, independent of TFFT. The contribution of our child rights trainings and Happy and Sad Boxes are children who know their rights and protect them by writing notes celebrating positive interactions and reporting negative ones.

Nine years in, I could not be more proud of our work and our trajectory. We are thinking big, but when you work side by side with passionate individuals committed to changing the state of this world, it is easy to persevere; it is easy to work late, study excel files for hours, and drive long distances on bumpy roads to observe classrooms. Stay tuned and let us know how you want to be involved. You are part of this crazy awesome group of people who make up the TFFT Family and have made this all happen!


Posted in Development, Tanzania | Comments closed

Introducing Theresa

October 27, 2015


We are thrilled to welcome Theresa to the team as an intern in our Tanzania office! She works to track and analyze scholar progress and performance. Her strong passion for our mission is inspiring, and we are excited to see the positive impact he is sure to bring TFFT. Welcome, Theresa!

Hi, my name is Theresa Pyndji. I am an intern at TFFT. I was born in Uganda, Kampala, but raised here in Tanzania. I graduated from high school, having attended my O level at St. Constatines International School and my A level at Arusha Modern International School.


I heard about TFFT through a friend and decided to apply for an internship because I was inspired by TFFT’s work. I joined TFFT in April of this year and over the course of my time here, I have observed many amazing people involved with TFFT; each individual is determined, sedulous, and conscientious in everything they do.

I have worked under various programs as an intern with TFFT, but mostly deal with reports and database filing, which I enjoy doing. This has helped me track the scholars’ performance and progress in school. Some newer scholars are still working to grasp the English language; however, I can say that overall, the scholars perform well in class.


One of our best scholars, Richard Augustine, a student in Arusha Modern School, is taking the Cambridge Program. The Cambridge Program offers the highest level of academic rigor, similar to AP or Honors courses. Richard is an intelligent student, industrious in his school work. His leadership skills and strong performance throughout the years has awarded him with exemplary grades.


Another great scholar is Emmanuel John who is in grade 3 at Arusha Modern School. Emmanuel is a brilliant boy and efficient in his school work. His performance over the years has demonstrated consistency and yielded impressive grades. TFFT congratulates him for his wonderful performance in school!

Dickson Simon is a third excellent scholar in the program. He is a motivated grade 8 student at Star High School who accomplishes any task he sets his mind to. Similar to Richard and Emmanuel’s work, Dickson’s performance throughout the years has indicated consistent, admirable work.


Although I only focused on three specific students, all of our scholars deserve recognition for their hard work and success. I have learned that with TFFT, success means not only performing well in class, but also acting as a responsible and well-rounded individual who can contribute back to home communities.  


Posted in Internships, Introductions | Comments closed

Challenging Vulnerability

October 23, 2015


Part of my trip to Tanzania has included working through our new strategic plan. We couldn’t have accomplished this without the help of Dr. Kate McAlpine, the consultant who led us through our second strategic planning process. In May we worked with our team and our stakeholders to evaluate the progress of our 3-year strategic plan that is coming to a close, while also developing new strategic and business plans for the next 5 years. This process led me to reflect on how TFFT and Tanzania have grown together over the past nine years and ultimately to the realization of our theme to challenge vulnerability.

As our work evolves and progresses, part of my continued inspiration is understanding and genuinely seeing how we have been a part of Tanzania’s growth. Nine years ago when we came to this country, NGOs were seen as service providers. The government didn’t have the ability to provide for the most vulnerable in society, and, therefore, perpetuated an environment where NGOs could be those service providers. We were green and full of heart. We saw education as a tool to assist orphaned children.

Today, Tanzania has grown, and TFFT has grown with it. We now have a sphere of vulnerability that encompasses much more than just orphaned children. It addresses children who:

  • Are neglected or abandoned;
  • Have lost one or both parents and have no support system;
  • Have physical or mental disabilities;
  • Are born to parents who are mentally disabled, and
  • Children who have both parents who are unable provide for their basic needs.

It is now clear to me that our core is challenging vulnerability. It struck me when this thought surfaced. I always saw our core as education. As I listened and learned, I saw more clearly. Education is only the lens through which we address vulnerability. In Tanzania, The Law of Child was formed in 2009, and all children are now in a place where they can legally be protected. This provides a framework that protects them from abuse, violence, and neglect at local and national levels. It also sets standards for juvenile justice.


Today, as an organization we can speak to the interventions we have provided and how they have impacted the most vulnerable in society. We now also speak to our role as an agent that pushes the government and key actors to enforce this law and the policies. This will help children grow and learn in an environment as active and empowered citizens free of exclusion, disadvantage, and vulnerability. We see on the horizon, a just and equitable society where people and systems support every child to thrive.

Posted in Development, Tanzania | Comments closed

Introducing Viola

October 22, 2015


We are thrilled to welcome Viola to the team as an intern in our Tanzania office! She is working with Stephen and Theresa to assess the vulnerability of children and their families. Her strong passion for our mission is inspiring, and we are excited to see the positive impact she is sure to bring TFFT. Welcome, Viola!


Hi everyone, my name is Viola Usiri, and I am a proud intern at TFFT. I was born in Northern Tanzania in the Kilimanjaro Region. I studied education and received a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Dodoma. During this time, I had the opportunity to visit and to work with Voice of Orphaned Tanzania (VOT), based in Dodoma.  It was a great experience for me, and led to my continued interest in working to improve the lives of vulnerable children and orphans.


I first heard about TFFT while in Arusha mailing. I started reading on Facebook and found that the mission, vision, and passion of TFFT aligned with my interests in prioritizing the education of vulnerable children. I happily joined TFFT based on our common interests of prioritizing education for vulnerable children.  With great excitement, I became a part of TFFT’s team that works to assess the vulnerability of children and their families. I would like to express heartfelt gratitude to my two amazing team members, Theresa and Stephen. They are a pleasure to work with.


The bright scholars express excitement and show great passion for learning. When they receive the necessary support, means to access resources, and an opportunity for receiving quality education, I believe that all children alike have the capability to make noteworthy accomplishments. I chose to heighten my involvement in this work due to its meaningful rewards. 

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Eight Thousand Books, 11 Months, and a Dream Fulfilled

October 20, 2015

Books and reading are my biggest passions and I believe that my early introduction to books and libraries helped me get to where I am now…which is not too far really, but if you know where I came from you would appreciate my journey. Growing up, I was lucky to have the three things that I wish for every child to have: a patient and engaging teacher, access to books, and a family who allows a child the space to read as much as possible. So I couldn’t have been happier when my passion and work collided as TFFT’s Teacher Training Program started its literacy initiative in 2012.

TFFT’s literacy initiative started with a training on teaching early literacy, and saw expansion in its reach to include government teachers. Our engagement with government school teachers in literacy education training brought to attention the serious need for books in Tanzanian schools. This led TFFT to start a drive asking supporters for storybooks and other reading materials for primary schools.


Many of you responded to the call—either through collecting books in your schools or communities, sending money to purchase bookshelves for the literacy rooms, sending storybooks in Kiswahili (bought from bookshops in the US!), sending teacher guides on how to teach reading, or serving as our “book mules” on your trip to Tanzania.


One of the supporters who responded, WaterBridge Outreach (WBO), donated 4,000 English level readers to our literacy initiative in 2014. These books were placed in four Teacher Resource Centers (TRCs) in Meru District where we work; these four TRCs are open to teachers and pupils from the 111 government primary schools within the wards that these TRCs service. They allow teachers and students to borrow and use these resourceful books.


In the same year, WBO’s Dr. Peter Coughlan and novelist Gail Tsukiyama, representing Writers for WaterBridge, came to Arusha to visit us and see our work. (Side note: I read and loved Gail’s first novel Women of the Silk back in the Philippines years ago, so I was totally awestruck meeting her in person. Magical experience!)

That visit ended with a challenge: Can we develop Kiswahili readers? How much would it cost to develop these stories and print them?

And a promise: WBO would fund this project, along with other Teachers Training initiatives, as part of our ongoing partnership.


As soon as they left, the Teachers Training team went to work on turning this possibility into a reality. We canvassed printing costs quotations from various printing companies, and I put out an advertisement in the local mailing list for an artist to create the illustrations for our humble books. I organized a group of teachers to collaborate with for writing the stories. This presented a formidable challenge, as neither the teachers nor anyone in our office had any experience in book publishing. Armed with faith, drive, and the kind donation from WaterBridge Outreach we pushed forward to complete our task.


Eleven months after our very first book development meeting, we have finally succeeded! We have delivered 8,000 copies of the 8 books we co-created with the locally selected government teachers. I was bursting with happiness and pride when the books were finally delivered to the TFFT office. All the sweat and tears, not to mention frustrations, that eventually gave birth to these completed stories were worth seeing such pride in the faces of the teachers who volunteered their time and effort to co-develop these books with us. The teachers made valuable contributions to this great cause of bringing simple books to their pupils’ hands, in their language. In doing so, the teachers also showed support for the lessons they teach in their classes.


Giving children access to books is an achievement to be proud of; however, I  am equally thrilled by the fact that in the process of doing so, we also helped to empower local teachers who never thought they would see their names published on the cover of a book as its author.


I am dedicating this blog to Peter and Gail who never failed to offer me encouraging words during the long wait for these books to be printed—and to all of you TFFT supporters who love reading and understand the power and magic of books.


Posted in Teacher Training | Comments closed

Full Circle Update

September 30, 2015


I cannot believe that we are closing this month next week. It seems like August was just yesterday. This month the Full Circle Program had plans to accomplish many things. Noah and I arranged a children’s rights and responsibilities training at Maji ya Chai Primary School. We managed to prepare the Life Skills Teaching Manual for secondary school students. Finally we began life skills clubs at two schools.


The training at Maji ya Chai was Full Circle’s response to the need for students to learn their rights and responsibilities as children. We also want them to understand the responsibilities they have as children and to know how to act if their rights are violated. I think you will agree with me that “with every right there has to be a corresponding responsibility.” For example, if they learned they have a right to be educated, then they also have the responsibility to study and learn as much as their capabilities allow and share their knowledge and experience with others.

Through this training it came into their mind that if they take responsibility for their learning they will develop a hunger to accomplish the dreams they have. Also the pupils start to understand that they are leaders of tomorrow. They realize that leadership is about taking responsibility, not making excuses. Therefore, as leaders, they should start taking responsibility.

We also worked with secondary scholars. We managed to prepare the Life Skills Teaching Manual for secondary school students. Under Full Circle we saw there is a need to have life skills sessions with secondary students. Historically, secondary school has not included life skills education. Students are have expressed their desire to learn practical skills in addition to academic knowledge. This opportunity will help them to cover necessary skills including: entrepreneurship, dream mapping, self-esteem, effective communication, stress management, and exams taking.

We formed Active Life Skills Clubs at Arusha Modern School (because so many TFFT Scholars are students there) and at Oldonyosambu Government School. At Arusha Modern School we have 28 members from forms 1, 2, 3, and 5. At Oldonyosambu we have 45 members from form 1-3. They have selected the clubs officials and guardian teacher for clubs. School administration are very eager to have these clubs, they said it is golden opportunity to their students.

I gave out the questionaires to scholars to see how they feel about these clubs and how important they are to them. Some of the questions asked from the questioners include:

1/. Is life skills education necessary in school? Yes/No (circle one) If yes, why?

Life skills education will help students to make proper decision, develop good behavior, solve problems, and have confidence and self-esteem.

2/. How are clubs different than classroom teaching?

School clubs offers things that classroom teaching cannot offer. We can express what we feel and contribute to ideas that positively affect our lives unlike classroom teaching.

3/. What do school clubs offer that class doesn’t?

Engaging in community activities, life skills education, confidence, and freedom to give out your ideas and express yourself. It enables you to interact with other people and socialize etc.

According to what they wrote in this questionnaire, there is a huge need of teaching and guiding them on life skills essentials. These clubs are already in function, so much will be shared on next blog story of what they are doing.

This month was indeed busy for all of us here. On top of the training, teaching manual development, and club formation, we celebrated graduation for many of our scholars at Usa River Academy and Star High School. In addition, we had the pleasure of hosting a group of donors. We are very much enjoying having Meghann and Ray in country. They have joined us in the field for observations. It brings a lot of joy to the team to work with them in various programs including Full Circle.


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Happy/Sad Box Opening: Kimandafu Primary School

September 29, 2015


The Concept of Happy and Sad Box: Most of the developmental period of children is spent at school. Children can experience child rights violations and abuse and child protection practices at school at home and in their communities. Children most equipped to share and report such practices when they are aware of their rights and responsibilities. When gate-keepers are aware of these practices, they can facilitate action, influence practices, and engender and guarantee accountability for child protection and safety. The best place to embed this system is in the school, and the best people to lead are the children themselves.

Anxiety filled the room as we stood together with the head teacher and the student representatives to open the Happy and Sad Box for the first time. The padlock was stuck, and this added to the anxiety. The students, who were out of class at the time, came closer to witness this occasion. At last, Hedwiga managed to unlock one padlock, and the head teacher unlocked the other. Indeed, inside the box were these small pieces of paper the students had written on, voicing their experiences with protection of their rights or violations to the same.

TFFT began piloting the Happy and Sad Boxes in 10 primary and 5 secondary schools; however, Kimandafu is the first school to open one of these boxes so far. On this day, the District Social Welfare Officer accompanied us. Meru District is mandated by law to protect and safeguard child rights at the district level.


The exercise involved reading through all the written pieces of paper from the box and categorizing them based on those that make children happy and sad. This took place at the head teacher’s office in the presence of: the contact teacher trained on child rights from the school, the two students representatives [a girl and a boy], the head teacher, the District Social Welfare Officer, Hedwiga, and I. We realized the anxiety was for the teachers, “What have the students written about us?”

We found what makes students Happy:

  • Students in the school are happy with the way they are taught by their teachers and the guidance and support provided by teachers at school
  • Students are mostly happy with the parenting that they receive at home including support with their homework and provision of educational materials.

However what made them Sad included:

  • One student complaining that her peers label her as a witch and thief, and this discourages her from continuing school.
  • One student reported that he is excessively punished by his father, even for things that he has not done. That the father uses water-pipes to beat him up a lot.
  • Most students reported familial dysfunction issues such as separation, divorce, and alcoholism which affect their development and lives.
  • Gender based violence and domestic violence at home was a common report that children face at home.

Although this narrative may change as we continue to re-open the boxes every month and in different schools, we believe that the sharing of responsibilities by the parties involved in this exercise will go a long way to improve child protection and children’s enjoyment of learning.

The District Social Welfare Officer committed to follow-up within the month with the reported families where children are abused and exposed to domestic violence and report back in the next opening of the box. The head teacher committed to communicate to the teachers the finding that children are happy with how well they teach them to improve their motivation, but also to summon the father of the student who is beaten using water-pipes to understand how such punishment affects the attendance and performance of his child at school. The student representatives committed to talk to other children who label their peers and work with the head teacher and other teachers for this to stop.

We will share more as the narrative develops and action starts being taken on child rights violation at school and in the community.

Posted in Advocacy, Psychosocial + Health | Comments closed


September 28, 2015


A total of 23 TFFT Scholars graduated different levels this year. Sixteen TFFT Scholars graduated class 7 at Usa River Academy on September 12th, and seven TFFT Scholars graduated form 4 at Star High School on September 19th. This is a demonstration of how TFFT is systematically and steadily growing towards assuring its vision of providing quality education for the vulnerable.



The Usa River River graduation was significant because the 16 TFFT Scholars who graduated made up 73% of the Class 7 graduates. The occasion was presided over by a prominent lawyer from Arusha who encouraged students to map their dream and remain focused on it. She asked the graduates to maintain high levels of discipline, for without discipline success becomes elusive. TFFT’s Executive Director was present for the occasion, accompanied by Ramon Richardson, the Director of Operations TFFT based in the US, and a group of five donors who were visiting Tanzania on TFFT’s 2015 Vision Trip. Those on the Vision Trip came from New Jersey, Hawaii, New York, and Hong Kong!



The ceremony was marked with joy and jubilation as the graduates and other students entertained the invited guests with song and dance.



At the end of the ceremony, the parents and guardians of the scholars joined together to cut the cake with the visiting donors and TFFT staff before proceeding to a luncheon hosted by the school in the dinning hall.



On September 19th, the entire TFFT staff attended the Star High School graduation. Star High school is located in Mbuguni area of Tanzania, which is famous for mining of Tanzanite. Star High School was hosting its sixth graduation since inception and is reputed for performing considerably well both in the O and A level national exams. The ceremony went on with song and dance and speaker after speaker lauded the schools past performance and were confident that the school could register yet another year of good results.


We wish all our graduates happy holidays. The class 7 graduates will have a two-month pre-form-one course at Arusha Modern School beginning last week of September through November. This will set them up for success as they head into secondary school next year. The form 4 graduates will take their national exams in November, and we wish them well as they prepare!

Posted in Scholarship Program | Comments closed

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