This month, The Foundation For Tomorrow has been excited to share letters from recent TFFT graduates, and now proud alumni, Joachim Filbert and Irene Peter. These notes provide a window into the world of our alumni, and their hopes and dreams for the future.
We believe one of the greatest strengths of our work is it’s depth – a commitment to support each and every TFFT scholar from the moment of their enrolment in the Scholarship Program to their graduation. The path that our scholars take following the completion of school is varied, yet embraces the aspirations of each young person we support.
The letters that our alumni, Joachim and Irene, wrote earlier this month were filled with their memories of the hard work they put in to complete their education, as well as their hopes for the future. We still remember, though, the young Joachim and Irene who arrived at TFFT years ago facing great struggles. Here is a brief glimpse into their journeys:
Before joining TFFT, Joachim lived with his mother and four siblings on a farm in a rural area outside of Arusha. Joachim’s father had died, and the family struggled to maintain their farm. Joachim’s mother needed all her children to work on the farm to help it survive.
At the time that TFFT met Joachim, he was attending Nkokirika Primary School, a government school, located near Arusha. He was struggling greatly. He was working on the family farm and frequently absent from school. When he did attend school he was often late as he travelled a great distance to reach school. His absences and tardiness often resulted in punishment from his teachers. It’s not surprising that Joachim came to hate attending school.
Joachim remembers, “I used to view school as something that is there to cause me more suffering. It was there to punish me, not to help.” Joachim wore a worn-out uniform, and had limited school supplies. The school did not provide breakfast or lunch, something that was also not provided at home, and after the long trip to school, Joachim was often hungry. Joachim still clearly remembers this as a difficult time.
Recognizing his vulnerability status, The Foundation for Tomorrow brought Joachim into the Scholarship Program when he was in Class Two (second grade). TFFT then enrolled Joachim into a boarding school, Fikiria Kwanza Academy, before he was moved to Usa River Academy where he finished his primary education. He then moved on to study at Star High School for his secondary education, finally completing his high school education at Scholastica Academy in Kilimanjaro region.
School soon became a source of happiness for Joachim, and he made steady improvements to his grades. He was one of the hardest working scholars with very promising academic success. Joachim’s discipline and hard work at school made him score division two (second class) in both his secondary level education and in high school.
Joachim worked very hard throughout school, and had dreamed of pursuing studies in Medicine and becoming a doctor. Unfortunately, due to recent changes of required coursework for Medical School, he won’t be able to pursue that path. Undeterred, Joachim is forging a new path, exploring whether to pursue a degree in Geoinformatics or Geology.
Joachim considers his TFFT scholarship a blessing. Becoming a TFFT scholar, having the opportunity to receive a high quality education, as well as receiving basic necessities such as food, school supplies, new uniforms – everything a student could wish for – changed Joachim’s life and overall perspective about education. TFFT brought hope into Joachim’s life, restoring the hope that poverty had taken away from him.
Joachim has been a valued member of the TFFT family. His love and compassion, service to his community, caring, kindness and self driven characteristics embody what TFFT would wish to see in every student. When asked about what strength he possesses that many may not be aware of, Joachim replied, “one-on-one mentoring and counseling.” Joachim said “I love seeing my fellow youth succeed, and so when an opportunity to counsel or mentor someone shows up, it makes me very happy.”
The TFFT team is thrilled to see Joachim move on to the next stage of his education and development, but continue to be a part of our family, continue to offer his keen intellect, compassion, and commitment to help other TFFT scholars succeed.
Irene has also been a treasure to the TFFT family. A tough, opinionated, and full-hearted young woman, Irene is a wonderful example of triumph over adversity.
Both of Irene’s parents died when she was young, first her mother and then her father. Both were HIV+. Although Irene was very young at the time, she remembers her parents being ill, but trying to hide their illnesses from their children. Adult relatives were also aware of Irene’s parents’ illnesses, and tried to support the family, but her parents were too sick and both passed away.
For a time, Irene lived with one of her aunts. She soon moved to Good Hope Orphanage where her family had hoped she could have a better life and more opportunity. TFFT identified Irene while at Good Hope as a vulnerable child, and received a scholarship from TFFT to attend boarding school in Tanzania. Irene joined the TFFT Scholarship program in 2008 and remained in the program until her graduation in 2016.
A tenacious young woman, Irene also exudes confidence. She has a hard outer shell, but is clear this is how she has learned to protect herself throughout her difficult childhood. When Irene opens up, though, you can see she has a huge heart. She has said herself that she has always “loved to be loved”, and sought attention, most probably because of what she lacked growing up.
When Irene was younger, she dreamed of becoming a pilot. Irene yearned to fly, and was overjoyed when given the opportunity by TFFT to co-pilot a flight. While she worked toward the dream of becoming a pilot, this dream was derailed by an eye-condition that required surgery. Sadly, her eye condition would not allow her to continue on the path to becoming a pilot. Not to be defeated, Irene changed course, persevered, and has found success on a new path.
Irene is currently finishing her last year of BSc in Information System Management at Ardhi University. She has just completed a presentation of her dissertation to a panel of lecturers on an evaluation of e-learning systems in Tanzanian higher learning institutions. Irene plans to pursue a career as a web developer, focusing on database management.
Both Joachim and Irene are very special young people. Their fortitude, determination, and hard work has enabled both of them to complete their secondary education – an accomplishment that only a small percentage of Tanzania’s accomplish. Considering the circumstance that Joachim and Irene started from, completing a high school-level education is an outstanding achievement. What is even more exciting for TFFT is to support each of their dreams to push themselves further, achieve more. Joachim and Irene are shining examples of TFFT scholars who, with the appropriate support and guidance throughout their scholarship process and beyond, will become valuable contributors to their families, their communities, and their country in the years to come.