The Eyes of Tanzania

September 29, 2016

Today’s post is by Kristin Morse who recently traveled to Tanzania to participate in our Vision Trip. Below you can read her beautiful reflections on this experience and TFFT’s work. We are grateful to everyone who took the time to witness TFFT’s work firsthand and to Kristin for writing such an insightful piece summarizing her trip.

By: Kristin Morse, 2016 Vision Trip participant and sponsor of TFFT Scholars Upendo and Richard


I will remember the eyes.

The eyes, hundreds of them, that rushed up and surrounded the visitors who had descended upon the school grounds … The eyes that looked up skeptically from the desk in a classroom with barren walls but yet filled with a love of learning, competition and success … The eyes that looked up with a mischievous twinkle as the visitors walked around the room and peeked in on the work the students were creating …


The eyes that looked up with sorrow, hesitation and fear, even as those very eyes were now in a seemingly safe place — an orphanage — far away from the people who had made those eyes sad in the first place … Or, the eyes that sparkled and shone when they discovered that iPhones could simply create a smile and a laugh with a selfie, a video or a Snapchat dog filter …

The eyes that danced and smiled when a scholar was first introduced to her sponsor, and of course, the dampened eyes of that sponsor …


The eyes (and tummy) that grew bigger with each bite from a fish that was larger than the plate it lay on … Or those same eyes as food coma and satisfied happiness set in … The eyes of a proud grandmother as she watched her granddaughter — smartly dressed in her school uniform — walk her visitors around her old home, which seemed a million miles away from her new home, her school.  The eyes of said grandma as she wiped them with her skirt … Was she crying? Had dirt gotten in her eyes? Who knows, but those eyes

The eyes of a proud Masai mama of six as she displayed and sold her homemade jewelry inside her home, proudly paving her own way after her husband (as well as the husband of her sister wives) had dropped dead just a few years before  … The crying, hysterical eyes of the Masai mama’s youngest child as mama left home as the sun was setting to put the money she had earned in a safe place in town so no one could take it from her or her family …

The eyes of the student involved in a marketing competition, hoping, praying his team would win first place … The eyes of the same student as he learned his team hadn’t won, but he would still receive a certificate with his name on it: “I’ll show it to my mom,” he said. …


The eyes of a young high school graduate as she proudly announced she had been hired for her first job even when that job would be seven days a week and for minimal pay …

The eyes of a high school graduate as he intensely listened and devoured advice on how to write a personal statement for a college application …

The eyes, staring out the window, hoping, pleading to understand the question being asked of him in a language he is still learning … Those same eyes when understanding was attained … 

Thank you to The Foundation for Tomorrow and the eyes of Tanzania for opening my eyes.


If you want to read more, you can see another participant’s reflections from last year here.

Posted in Events, Tanzania | Comments closed

Livelihood Beading Workshop

September 28, 2016


This month, eight of our scholars’ guardians learned beading skills from Kiretono Organization. The participants, all women, attended a five-day training from September 12th-16th, held in Karatu Village were Kiretono Organisation is located. All of the women are Maasai, and each is the head of her family. In Maasai culture, it is common to learn beading at a young age, so all of the women had some prior knowledge on beading. In this training, they learned new beading skill-sets and designs.  They were very excited to learn new techniques. They travelled from their homes to Karatu Village in Arusha District. The women came from three different Maasai villages in Arusha District. Karatu is a village near Ngorongoro Crater, located a few hours or about a day of travel outside of Arusha.

The purpose of the training was to enable these women with livelihood skills so that they may improve their quality of life, while TFFT will still provide the scholarships for the children of these women. We asked the women what they are interested in and capable of learning in an effort to improve their livelihood, and they expressed interest in beading.


During the training, they learned about quality control and had discussions centered on what quality is and why it is important. Following this conversation, the ladies participated in an exercise to demonstrate wise spending on the best quality items. They each chose from 2 different groups of items based on quality and explained their choice to the group. In these mini-presentations, they answered the following questions:

  1. Why did you pick the items you picked?
  2. What makes something “better” quality?
  3. Who wants to spend their money on the poor quality?
  4. The items of poor quality will be the last to sell, if ever.

After the training, the women were happy that they learned to bead using wire, because previously most of them had only learned with threads. They made toothpick holders, wine glass rings, and lots of jewelry.


When Kiretono receives orders for products, they train the women to make it, give the women the order, and pay each woman per piece that she makes. They went home from training with orders for toothpick holders and wine glass rings. They have a leader in the group who inspects the quality of each product before taking the to Karatu for payment. The women also visit others who do beading so that they can come up with unique products that are not in every market. 

All of the women have expressed gratitude for this opportunity. They look forward to seeing livelihood improvement through this business by expressing creativity in quality products that will attract buyers.


Posted in Development, Psychosocial + Health, Tanzania | Comments closed

My Time in Tanzania

September 27, 2016

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After spending almost a year with TFFT and officially joining the team in August, I made my first ever trip to Tanzania! My three weeks in TZ have been such an incredible, informative, and eye-opening experience on both personal and professional levels. I feel fortunate to have continued to develop and expand my knowledge of and relationships with everything TFFT. My time here has been full. From meeting our scholars to visiting homes and soaking in the Tanzanian culture and landscape, I am constantly learning.


My first day here I went to our office and met our team members who work in Tanzania. I spent the morning working with all of them, and then we went to lunch at a local restaurant together. It was a great introduction to Arusha! In the afternoon, I went with Meghann to see Arusha Modern School and met some of our scholars who had just completed their class 7 national exams.


This was a really meaningful time for me, since the scholars in our program are the driving force behind all of TFFT’s work. I appreciated seeing firsthand the incredible impact that receiving a quality education has on the lives of our scholars. This is what motivates me to do as much as I can when I sit down in the office for work, to help provide our scholars with the best possible opportunities that we can.

Right at the beginning of my time here, I was able to attend primary school graduation at Usa River Academy. TFFT Scholar Rachel graduated, and we saw many of our other scholars participate in the graduation ceremony festivities.


I went to Star High School and saw all of the TFFT Scholars who attend school there. We spent the afternoon getting to know each other, and I learned that Julieth has a beautiful singing voice!


I was able to go along with some of the women on our Vision Trip to see Step by Step, a center that provides education and care for children with learning disabilities. We met two TFFT Scholars and saw the trade skills that they learn, which they can bring home to help provide support to their families.


One of the highlights of my time here was going to see an essay writing and poster making competition at a government school in King’ori. Hilda organized this activity through TFFT’s Full Circle Program, and student representatives from over 50 schools in Meru District showed up to compete! I loved the opportunity to see TFFT program work in action.


With all of the Vision Trip group, I went along to see Small Steps for Compassion, voted the Most Outstanding Children’s Center. Hedwiga brought us there, and she explained the process and standards of how TFFT rates the centers. Small Steps was impressive – so clean and well-rounded!


I was also able to see TFFT Scholar Angel’s home and meet some of her family. It was great that Angel felt comfortable opening her home to visitors and her sponsor, Candice. Afterwards, we spent time with Angel at her school, Usa River Academy.


Another exciting moment of the trip for me was seeing the land where TFFT has a new endeavor in the works…stay tuned for more on this!!


I loved seeing more program work in action at the SuitUp Competition, organized by Scholarship and Mentoring Program Manager, Stephen, at Arusha Modern School. We worked with TFFT Scholars and other students at Arusha Modern as coaches for the project to design a prototype shoe for Nike. It was a great experience for the students to practice making a business plan and presenting for a panel of judges.

I worked with the Vision Trip participants to complete scholar interviews. I loved spending time at schools getting to know the scholars and watching as sponsors formed bonds with the scholars that they support.


What a wonderful first experience in Tanzania for me! I loved all of my time spent with the team and scholars, and I can’t wait to make it back again for more!!


Posted in Tanzania, TFFT Student Work, TFFT's Partners | Comments closed

Meru District Inter-School Competition

September 20, 2016


The Foundation for Tomorrow recognizes the importance of well-rounded and holistic education that extends beyond the classroom. TFFT provides life skills education through our Full Circle Program, where students learn necessary skills to help them make the most out of their lives. We provide this through co-curricular activities that enhance teachers’ instruction in life skills and through curriculum support and clubs which are an excellent forum for students to learn leadership and communication skills as well as cooperation and teamwork.


This month, September 13th through 16th, we conducted an inter-school essay writing and poster making competition with the intention of engaging students from different schools throughout Meru District. We aimed to promote healthy competition among students and schools, to develop interest in the importance of expressing one’s thoughts in oral or written manner effectively as well as the arts, to provide an opportunity to students of different schools to interact with each other, and finally to encourage schools to give attention to developing and nurturing their students’ talents and skills.


This inter-school competition provided an opportunity for students to participate in a structured activity with students from other schools and gave them the chance to enhance their skills and excel in areas beyond academics.

The competition was opened to students from class 4, 5, and 6 in public schools with two contestants nominated from each school, one for essay writing and the other one for poster making. Representatives from 52 schools participated.


Students were eager to find out what they were going to write about. They were prepared by their teachers, but the competition themes were released on the spot. The essay prompt instructed the students to write a short essay explaining what they want to become in the future, how they will reach these goals, the support they will need, and what obstacles they might face.


I went through essay papers to read what they wrote. It is interesting to see that many primary students in rural Tanzania know what they want to be in the future. Five of the students want to be president of Tanzania. The reasons they provide are astonishing: they want to fight against corruption, to provide free access to education to all kids including street children, to avoid killing of wildlife, and to provide social services. One student wrote that he wants to be president because it is the highest paying job in Tanzania and he wants to have a lot of money and become famous!


The majority want to become primary school teachers, police officers, accountants, and doctors. They all provided the reasons for their choices and what they have to do to reach their dreams.


The students who participated in poster making were required to present how to support the Tanzanian child for a bright future.

In the posters, they drew the necessities for a Tanzanian child to receive a bright future. They drew schools, hospitals, clean water, clean environments, access to church, sleeping in a bed covered with mosquito netting, food, school uniforms, family, exercise and sports, just to mention few.


I submitted these papers to professional judges for marking. These judges are prominent university lectures, and one professor specialized in art and pure Swahili language. Making will take place in one week from the 19th through 23rd of September. After making, the winners will be communicated to the respective schools. The targeted date of the awarding ceremony is 5th October 2016, which coincides with the celebration of International Teachers Day.

To make this event special for the winners, I will request the presence of their parents. Also, parents will feel so proud of their kids and they will be motivated to support and encourage their education when they are at home.


I will share with you in October how the whole activity proceeded, including the award ceremony. I will also try to take short clips from winners to see their view and excitement about this event and what they have to tell their fellow students who did not participate and wish to participate next time. Stay tuned!!!!!!!!

Posted in Development, Full Circle, Tanzania | Comments closed

Building Stronger Connections Between Us

September 14, 2016


There is no doubt the bond between a child and a concerned supportive adult can be a lifeline, a lesson, a joy, and even a meaning to one’s life. It can be so many things both ways. Our TFFT connections are special in that our connections are also about protection, survival, growth, a child’s potential, a family’s future.  

One of the responsibilities of TFFT staff is to act as a link between scholar and sponsor so that the relationship bond can be strong and more meaningful over distance, time, and cultural divide. It is an effort we all take very seriously, because the link between scholars and sponsors is something that has allowed us all to do such great work under the TFFT umbrella.


There is a lot of good will generated between our scholars, our sponsors, staff, volunteers and schools. We all have the same focus of giving a child a quality education, as we all do our part in supporting our children. Communication between all of us is so important because we all rely on each other. In this blog, I would like to talk about all our bond-making efforts in the last few months that have brought us all closer together.

Building bonds is a three-way conversation between TFFT Scholars, sponsors, and team members, that can take many different forms: consulting with teachers; recording interactions with the children; doing interviews; facilitating visits; saving our money to buy a trip to Tanzania; running information sessions with parents;  writing and delivering postcards and letters; filling in surveys; building Family Cells;  writing blogs;  Skype meetings between US and TZ staff; updating the website;  sharing photos…we do all of this to help build our network of connections within the TFFT family. Even activities like updating databases, writing reports, and trying to work out school reports all add to the information that can swirl around us that needs to be shared.


Visits by sponsors to interact with scholars is the most wonderful and fun way to build connections. Wouldn’t we all love to do this as often as possible! Over the past few months, many of us have had a great experience seeing the love generated by such meetings. RIDETZ people were very blessed in this regard. They experienced what local TFFT staff get to do every week (aren’t we lucky). Even as we speak, TFFT is hosting the annual Vision Trip, to show firsthand the work we do daily. But still, there are many scholars and sponsors who don’t have the privilege to meet face to face, so that is where cards, photos, reports, and exchange of stories is the way to build connections. Other small practical bond-making activities like someone funding schoolbooks, or financially supporting life-skill activities all builds a web of connection we can all be excited about.


Have you ever tried getting information from a teenager? Well yes, it is the same challenge in the Tanzanian context. When interviewing a scholar or encouraging them to write about themselves, we all look for that one question that will open the flood gates, and get the child to look you enthusiastically in the eye. What sport do you like? Who is your favorite team/music/book? What are your plans for the future? Rest assured, if you ask closed ended questions you will get the answer “good” every time. But the scholars are happy to play, and I am sure they like the undivided attention that accompanies these interviews. For someone to be so terribly interested about them, to write all they say and send it over to America, must be a great source of pride.


Within our Scholarship Program, we have also recently had a task of going through end of term school report cards, and sending information back to sponsors who of course love to see how their Tanzanian loved one is progressing academically. The US based TFFT staff are thinking hard about how to improve mapping a child’s academic progress so that we can see patterns and trends and  monitor the impact of academic programs and extra tutoring we make available  for our scholars. All of this information together paints a picture of a scholar’s progress, or an indicator that a she or he might need extra assistance. Our Full Circle Program helps schools understand the importance of using the data that they collect in meaningful ways. Overall, an effective knowledge sharing system is so important to keep up our three-way conversation across various continents.


For TFFT, in my view, bonds between scholar and sponsor mean communication, commitment and shared responsibility. We are special and should feel proud of ourselves because our commitment to our scholars is long term. Whether a marathon commitment or a tag team effort, we are in it for the long haul, and we need to be strongly connected across the years. All our successes small and large need to be celebrated and shared. All our shortfalls need to be discussed compassionately, and viewed as a challenge together. And this means open, honest and effective communication between us all. As TFFT expands, our Scholarship Program will continue to run on commitment and connection between people.


Posted in Scholarship Program | Comments closed

Scholarship Program Update

September 9, 2016


For the past two weeks, our partner schools Arusha Modern School and Usa River Academy closed for a short break. Our scholars go home for holidays. Form two and class seven students had a holiday of two weeks before going back to school prepare for their national examinations.
 TFFT tries to help give our scholars school supplies.


As a Scholarship Assistance Manager, I am responsible for purchasing basic goods needed by the scholars. Our Logistics Manager, Deo, assisted me to buy the items and supply our scholars. Some of the necessities we provide include bar soaps, toothpaste, bath soap, Vaseline, hair tonic, shoe polish, toiletries, pens, exercise books, a mathematical set, coloured pencils, counter books, pencils, and spring files for secondary scholars. We are happy to give our scholars supplies to help them to feel comfortable in school.  Our scholars express happiness and gratitude upon receiving the supplies.


Also in the Scholarship Program, we work on the identification of new scholars for enrollment in TFFT’s Scholarship Program in 2017. In the past, we identified new scholars in November. This year we decided to identify earlier to make sure we have time to collect correct information about each new scholar from the village leader, neighbors, their current school, and family. We look forward to finalizing the identification of our new scholars. In my next blog, I will tell you more about the identification of  our new scholars.


Posted in Scholarship Program | Comments closed

Orientation and Mentoring: Supporting our scholars with a big life transition

August 31, 2016


TFFT has developed a Peer Mentoring Program as a part of our existing Scholarship and Psychosocial and Health Programs. This allows for experienced scholars to serve as mentors for new and younger scholars in their Family Cells. TFFT staff act as Family Cell Heads to supervise the peer mentoring sessions. 

It is a daunting experience to change schools–often transitioning from rural areas to urban areas; move from the public educational system to the private system; or move from the home to a totally new situation in a large school. Added to this is the pressure, scholars must study in a new language (our scholars predominately go to an English medium school), adjust to more difficult academic expectations, navigate new relationships, and build an identity within a new community. Adapting to such a new and different context can be scary, stressful, and intimidating. Having spoken to our scholars who have gone through this experience, we have learned some lessons on how best to support our scholars during this challenging time. TFFT is continuing to build a stronger support network where the scholars do not have to face this experience alone.


TFFT’s Scholarship Program is designing a more comprehensive and responsive orientation process for new scholars and their guardians who will join our family in 2017. As we continue with our selection of the most vulnerable children, we are taking time to think through our orientation process to best help these new scholars. Together with scholars, guardians, and TFFT staff, we will review expectations and responsibilities, explain TFFT programs and the opportunities they bring, tour schools, introduce relevant people, and get to know each other before the start of the academic year.


New scholars will be assigned membership to Family Cells within their schools, where they will be able to build relationships with other TFFT Scholars. This will also create a space where they have regular supportive contact with TFFT staff who act as Family Cell Heads.

The Peer Mentoring Program is also a very important intervention to help support both new and continuing TFFT Scholars build their capacity to navigate a very different environment. New scholars will be assigned a mentor in their own Family Cell who will meet with them regularly throughout their first year and assist with their progress in all aspects of their lives. TFFT staff will work with mentors to more effectively monitor a new child’s progression and intervene where necessary.


We appreciate that the transition and adjustment to boarding schools can be stressful without proper sensitivity and management. As TFFT expands, management and staff continue to discuss the best ways to support scholars and maintain a child’s culture and identification with their families. Boarding schools are an integral part of the Tanzanian education system, and often boarding schools offer a child the best chance of a better education. With proper orientation, support from Family Cells, and ongoing mentoring through the Peer Mentoring System, TFFT can support a child to have the best experience possible as they embark on their educational journey.


Would you like to assist a child’s transition to a new school environment? Perhaps you could write welcoming messages or cards or posters for the child’s living quarters or fund some refreshments for orientation. We are also always looking for new sponsors. There are a few scholars in need of a sponsor, and we also need sponsors for the new scholars we will add in January 2017. Email Kaitlin (at) TheFoundationForTomorrow (dot) org if you are interested to learn more about any of the above!

Thank you to all who make this work possible!

Posted in Advocacy, Psychosocial + Health | Comments closed

Happy and Sad Boxes Evaluation

August 26, 2016


Today, TFFT alumni, Richard Augustino, shares an update with us about his experience evaluating our Happy and Sad Box project. The Happy and Sad Boxes are an approach established by our Psychosocial and Health Program in schools to offer children the opportunity to communicate and share their rights, and/or a violation of rights, as well as best practices happening at their school.

I am so happy to share with everyone how the Happy and Sad Boxes evaluation exercise went. Being a TFFT scholar and taking part in this exercise gives me a strong desire to talk about this. I always say that whatever TFFT gives me helps me keep growing in every aspect of my life. The opportunities that I come across because of TFFT are of great importance to me. They are very valuable to me.


I want to talk about the two weeks that we took to do the evaluation. We did a two-day training that helped my colleagues and me develop research skills. We applied these skills and the exercise was successful. This made our work in the field easier. It is a great privilege to be on this team to do an evaluation. During the evaluation, we did Focus Group Discussions with students and the community, and had the students answer questionnaires.

It is great to see TFFT do this evaluation. This helps show me TFFT’s amazing vision for the Happy and Sad Boxes. TFFT makes a remarkable impact in the Tanzanian communities it serves, and no one can ever erase that. Implementing a project and then evaluating it shows community members how serious TFFT is when it comes to providing the best.


It is so wonderful when someone introduces something and takes an extra step to do an evaluation. I believe that TFFT works for the best and wants to do a lot in the future, which is why it is important to measure the success of any projects. This is one of the best projects that I have ever come across, TFFT is doing a lot to safeguard children’s rights.

I think the TFFT does an amazing job. I know how challenging it is just running a project on children’s rights, and I appreciate the enormous effort put forth by TFFT.  It takes huge effort to organize the programs that TFFT runs.


I look forward to seeing what comes in the future and hope I’m around long enough to connect with even a small portion of what’s already in place.

Posted in Psychosocial + Health | Comments closed

Part of the Team

August 23, 2016

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Hello again to all of you wonderful TFFT supporters! My name is Caiti, and I have worked with Kaitlin in Chicago for the past year, learning the important role that communications and development plays in The Foundation For Tomorrow’s work. I’m thrilled to announce that I have officially assumed the full-time role of Communications and Development Associate in the Chicago office!!

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It gives me great pleasure to see TFFT’s reach expand every day, both in the U.S. support network and in Tanzanian schools and homes. TFFT’s team strives to carry out its mission daily and works diligently to deliver positive and long lasting impacts on the lives of the scholars. Therefore, it’s no surprise when I see how dedicated every team member is to maintaining this impressive growth and progress.


Throughout this past year at TFFT, I’ve learned so much and gained responsibilities. From figuring out how to use our database, to writing notes thanking you for your gifts, to posting blogs, helping coordinate events, and everything in between, I have genuinely looked forward to coming to the office each day.

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My job as a full-time team member focuses on communication with our sponsors and donors, the people who keep TFFT’s operations up and running. I look forward to getting to know you all! My focus is to acknowledge the importance of all donations, and to explain exactly where and how each gift is used to improve our scholars’ lives. We want to make sure that our supporters understand how investing in our work helps us to provide orphans and vulnerable children with access to a quality education. In order to show this process in action, we use our blog and social media to share real-time program updates. My role also includes awareness building for TFFT, providing support for campaigns and events, and assisting with internal development.

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I really enjoy the work that I do all day every day, and I love that that’s something I can honestly say! I feel fortunate to be part of such a passionate, full of energy team. In September, I have the privilege of traveling to Tanzania for the first time, where I will finally meet the scholars who drive TFFT’s work! I can’t tell you how excited I am to be present for the Vision Trip and work with our amazing team in TZ.

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This week, I’m excited to work in the Charlotte office with Meghann, Kaitlin, and Ray. We are already starting to prepare for November’s S.O.S. Gala…I can’t wait to come to this year, and I hope to meet many of you there too!

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Working at TFFT has taught me the true importance of what receiving a quality education can bring, and I cannot wait to see the work that we do each day shape the future, one step at a time.

Posted in Introductions | Comments closed

Full Circle Update – PDS Project Evaluation

August 17, 2016


It’s been a busy month of August for the Full Circle Program. A lot took place this month…luckily, we managed to accomplish everything planned! The FC Program planned to evaluate the PDS piloting program after a year and a half of implementation. We want to measure the impact of the PDS classes to the piloted schools. We had 10 pilot schools from Meru district, but for this evaluation to be effective, we also needed to compare these 10 schools with some of the control schools so we can correctly understand the evaluation.


It took a week and some days to develop evaluation tools and methodologies that will be applicable for the whole process. All these were sent to a monitoring and evaluation expert, our former Country Director Ken Oulu who is still involved in this, to review and modify before our final editing. Ken came up with the evaluation framework, which will act as the guide, and we agreed on tools and methodologies. This evaluation was specifically for students, PDS class teachers, head of schools, ward education coordinators and district officials.


We used questionnaires and focus group discussion for students. The questions asked were the same at both treatment schools and controlled schools. For teachers and district officials, we used key informative interviews. Questions differed for those at the piloting schools and at control schools.


A group of seven people ready to put their mind and brain for this activity were trained intensively on data collection for two days. It took us five days to collect data from nine schools. Lucky the data collectors were well trained and well prepared for this activity. Teachers and students gave us maximum cooperation in carrying out the evaluations.


I am here at the office cleaning the data, analyzing the data, entering the collected data into spreadsheets, and writing an overall report which will give us feedback of PDS project implementation. I hope you will all love to hear how this intervention has enabled students to learn effective life skills education. Also this will help us to see the support of TFFT’s Full Circle Program in teaching essential life skills to Tanzanian students.


Stay tuned for the evaluation results and report!

Posted in Full Circle | Comments closed

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