Hello, my name is Inyang Ebong-Harstrup, and I am delighted and proud to have recently been appointed as the Executive Director of The Foundation For Tomorrow. Like the children we serve, I come from the African continent, specifically from Nigeria. Having grown up in the global south, I am all too aware of how the circumstances into which one is born determines one’s life chances and choices. It makes the difference between getting a quality education, access to healthcare and a gainful livelihood, or not. The ability to access a good education for all has something that I have believed in for as long as I can remember. I have seen at first hand, the impact that empowerment and the opportunity to learn can have in the lives of children exposed to poverty. All children have the right to experience life’s richness and the opportunity to participate fully in their nation’s growth and development. Indeed, advocacy for the survival and wellbeing of children going well beyond the age of five, has been a core ingredient of my development work with governments, primarily in Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean regions.
In my 30 years of working at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), I have led the design of programs that addressed, among other development challenges, the core needs of children as enshrined in the Convention of the Rights of the Child. My own development journey began in Tanzania, where I had my first posting in the field, and where I learned key lessons about national ownership and leadership in a nation’s development agenda, including the importance of partnership building with donors and civil society. The central focus of my work was on poverty reduction and good governance. My efforts were placed on assisting governments in Africa and the Caribbean to address the needs of the most vulnerable in their societies, enabling them to find sustainable ways out of poverty and have access to quality healthcare, education, and livelihoods.
After retiring from the UNDP, I decided to focus my development work at the community level, working with nonprofits that cater to children and young people living in difficult humanitarian situations, including with children in Africa afflicted with Type 1 Diabetes. What drew me to these organizations, is the same thing that draws me to the Foundation For Tomorrow, the focus on children and their centrality in building a thriving developed nation.
TFFT’s focus on vulnerable and orphaned children is so critically important. I am captivated by the story of how our founder, Meghann Gunderman Sehorn, built TFFT from addressing the needs of a set of orphaned triplets to the robust institution it is now, transforming the lives of over 150 Tanzanian children today. I am also impressed by the fact that TFFT, not only addresses each child’s participation in school, but looks at the context in which the children are trying to learn. Emphasis is placed on psycho-social and emotional development of the children as well as equipping care givers with the tools to raise them effectively. In addition to the care of children, TFFT pays great attention to the training of teachers, equipping them with the skills to develop the children into creative critical thinkers and problem solvers.
In joining TFFT, it is my hope that we will deepen and broaden our outreach to the children, caregivers and teachers not only in Arusha, but to other parts of Tanzania where the needs are as great. Through our soon to be built Learning Center we will develop a thriving center of excellence for teacher training and school management, which will increase the numbers of new students we are able to reach, as well as to enable us to potentially influence the national educational policy landscape and practice.