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As we move into 2017, I have done lots of thinking, reflecting, and looking back on this past year. 2016 was another great year for TFFT. We celebrated many accomplishments, and continued to bring positive change to the educational landscape in Tanzania. In my excitement for our annual blog review for 2016, I took a look at the highlights of our accomplishments from 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015. Wow, we have come a long way!! 2016 was a milestone year, marking TFFT’s 10 year anniversary. We honored the celebration of TFFT’s 10th year with a focus on family. The TFFT Family is the backbone of our growth and success. The TFFT Family is the reason we have a strong, motivated support network. The generosity of the TFFT Family enables us to support our scholars, and the dedication of the TFFT Family allows us to ensure that each of our scholar thrives. YOU are the TFFT Family.

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Now, I invite you to reminisce about 2016…

We were already off to a great start in January when we welcomed 18 new scholars into our program, our biggest year yet! Additionally, Melissa stepped into TFFT’s Country Director role. Before this, Melissa spent five years as our Teacher Training Manager, and she has made extraordinary contributions to TFFT’s growth and success. Melissa is an invaluable part of our team; her passion for TFFT’s mission and the way that she brings our core values to life are inspirational.

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Our 4th annual SHARE the LOVE challenge in February was a huge success, thanks to the 14 Team Leaders who more than doubled our campaign goal, collectively raised just shy of $18,000 for the TFFT kiddos.

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Our scholars also felt the love through the Valentines that many of you sent over!

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At TFFT, we value access to quality education for all. An education can only be as powerful as the teachers who provide it, and we showed our support of and gratitude for the most outstanding teachers in Meru District at our Teacher of Distinction Award Ceremony. Our Full Circle Program also successfully completed teacher training for the Personality Development & Sports classes at Arusha Modern School and Usa River Academy to ensure that all scholars learn important life skills.

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Further, our Teacher Training Program also completed an in-service training for Teacher Resource Center Coordinators and Ward Education Coordinators of Arusha City Council and Meru District. In our efforts to provide quality education and transform lives, we invest ideas, time, and resources to encourage students and teachers to succeed.

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Meghann ran the Kilimanjaro half for the 7th year in a row, and she wasn’t alone…our TFFT Family came together to support our ED in this accomplishment to fundraise and promote quality education. The entire TZ team, a couple of our scholars, and wonderful TFFT supporter Laine Boswell all ran either the 5k or the half marathon. What a way to bring February to a close!

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Meghann accomplished so much during her February-March trip to TZ, her second home. She shared meaningful reflections on what makes Tanzania her happy place, and how the journey throughout her past 12 years’ work has shaped what TFFT is today.

We held a field day for our Usa River Academy scholars – made possible by the ever-growing TFFT Family. Our scholars truly treasured this special day, and for this we thank a handful of our thoughtful, generous supporters. Filled with fun activities, our scholars played outdoor games, did arts and crafts, and had a bit of friendly competition in a treasure hunt!

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We wrapped up first quarter with our Annual Program Review and Strategic Plan launch. Our Annual Program Review reconfirmed our commitment and pushed our stakeholders to hold us accountable to our mission, program goals, and strategies.

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Our Psycho-Social & Health Program believes in the best interest of every child and works to advocate for this. TFFT hosted a childhood development training for District Social Welfare officers from Meru and Arusha Districts, Teacher Resource Center Coordinators, teachers from our partner schools here in Arusha, and our TFFT staff.

Speaking of the best interest of every child, we want to ensure that all of the TFFT Scholars receive the individualized encouragement they deserve, regardless of their skill set. Therefore, we began a pilot vocational project in April, aimed to equip the Form 4 graduates who will not continue on to the final two years of TFFT Scholarship. This will help them earn a living, support themselves, and offer a great avenue for them to contribute to society. Many of you supported this project when you purchased some of TFFT Scholar Agnes’s work!

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We strive to do everything within our power to best support all TFFT Scholars and to help our staff respond to the individual ongoing needs of each scholar. Our vocational training aims to strengthen livelihoods to help our scholars and their families independently support themselves. Within our Scholarship Program, we implemented Family Cells to further the support we provide TFFT scholars.

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Your support of our Annual Fund offered tangible proof of the growth of the TFFT Family in 2016. Together, we did it, and reached our goal. You make it possible to bring about change and make a difference in the lives of our scholars and the thousands of other children in Tanzania that our work serves. Asante Sana!

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Another reason 2016 was so special…RIDETZ!! 400 miles. 10 days. Mt. Kilimanjaro to the coast. An awesome crew, and heaps of happy memories made.

Our riders had the opportunity to raise awareness for quality education, learn firsthand about the work made possible through TFFT, meet some of our scholars, and really get to know our student rider. This year, Abednego was along for the ride and brought an irreplaceable presence to RIDETZ 2016.

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When the teachers at our partner schools came up with the idea to form after-school clubs to shape students into the best version of themselves, we listened to their voices and acted upon this by arranging a training to better equip teachers with the knowledge and skills to run successful school clubs. The training was successful, and helped contribute to the benefits seen by our scholars and many other students alike!

At TFFT, we also make sure to build all children’s psychological well-being in our interactions. Through teacher trainings, Family Cell meetings, and our day-to-day exchanges, we work to make our scholars feel safe, feel a sense of belonging, feel in control of their lives, and feel competent and responsible. With this sense of security, our scholars more likely to succeed in school.

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Long-time intern, RIDETZ alumni, Love Upendo Designs manager, and dedicated TFFT supporter Maggie Boorman spent time in Tanzania over the summer completing interviews with our scholars. Maggie shared her interview with Julieth, and explained why this project was meaningful and what she learned.

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Our Scholarship and Teacher Training Programs teamed up to present an introductory “Student Full Potential” workshop to over thirty local teachers. This workshop focused on helping teachers direct students in such a way that they will reach full potential and succeed. TFFT Alumni Richard demonstrates his potential, always showing gratitude for his education as a TFFT Scholar, and encouraging his classmates.

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In the fall, we evaluated our Full Circle Program’s Personality Development and Sports project – an overall success! The Personality Development and Sports class helps to provide our scholars and their fellow students with an understanding of important life skills through fun and meaningful experiential learning. We also conducted an impact evaluation on our Happy and Sad Boxes, implemented in our partner schools by TFFT’s Psychosocial and Health Program. The Happy and Sad Boxes offer children the opportunity to communicate and share their rights, any violation of rights, and the best practices happening at school in a confidential setting.

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Our Scholarship Program has put peer mentoring into action to help younger scholars deal with life transitions. Having support from an older peer helps to build stronger relationships amongst every member of our TFFT Family. We also provide our scholars with basic necessities.

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I was fortunate to travel to Tanzania in September for the first time! My time in TZ paralleled our Vision Trip, during which a group of us had many eye-opening experiences. I witnessed and sat in on an inter-school competition organized by our Full Circle program. Representatives from 52 schools participated in essay-writing and poster-making competitions.

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During the Vision Trip, we also participated in TFFT’s annual SuitUp Competition at Arusha Modern School. TFFT Students and their peers collaborated in small groups to create and market a new shoe for Nike.

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September was also graduation time for a handful of our scholars! One scholar graduated from class 7 at Usa River Academy, four from class 7 at Arusha Modern School, four scholars graduated from form 4 at Star High School, and we had one graduate from St. Catherine’s. We also had a scholar who finished his certificate course in 2016.

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TFFT’s 10th annual S.O.S. Gala left us overflowing with optimism and gratitude. Many in the TFFT Family came together to help us reach this milestone, both by gathering with us in Charlotte, and by showing support and celebrating from afar. We were fortunate this year to showcase a gallery of the ever-amazing Nate Kaiser’s photos, helping us to tell TFFT’s story a beautiful way.

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TFFT facilitated a 10-day training for special education teachers. Aside from building the capacity of regular classroom teachers and school management teams, provision of teaching and learning resources to the special education teachers is crucial for student achievements. We also held an awards ceremony for teachers of distinction in October. One of the winners, Neema Lema, is a special education teacher at Meru Primary School, who attributes her success in part to the special ed training that she attended through TFFT.

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At the end of the year, we put together an opportunity for TFFT Secondary Scholars to attend a 5-day Youth Camp. TFFT facilitated this camp to help provide instructions on and space to practice using the important skills required for success in today’s world.

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Country Director, Melissa, and Psychosocial & Health Manager, Hedwiga, attended a conference called “Break the Cycle” for professional development. This two-day conference brought together experts on child protection from 15 different countries. Melissa is excited to use her insights from the conference to develop TFFT’s work and connect with organizations that can support TFFT.

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We wrapped the year up with our third annual Family Day celebration, a time for TFFT Scholars, their families, and our team to visit and enjoy a day of fun before the start of the new school year.

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Thank you, TFFT Family, for supporting our work and believing in our mission. It is because of you that the TFFT flame is still burning strong!

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