Archive | October, 2011

TFFT’s Endowment by Kaitlin Rogers

29 Oct

Before working for The Foundation For Tomorrow, I worked as a family portrait photographer, and my work for TFFT initially began as a photography assignment. However, when that project came to a close, I was not ready to walk away from TFFT. Photographing TFFT’s work changed me. Like during my family portrait sessions, I was photographing adorable children. Unlike my family portrait sessions, I was photographing adorable little children who were orphaned or abandoned.

Often, when I am behind my camera, focusing on a child and caught up in their spirit, I wonder:

“Who will this child become? What are her dreams? What mark will he leave on this world?”

As I photographed the children at TFFT’s partner orphanages, the same thoughts flashed through my mind, but this time instead of swelling with joy and hope for their potential, my heart felt heavy with sadness as

“Who will this child become?” shifted to,“What will become of this child?”

Photographing TFFT’s Scholarship Students, however, was much more uplifting. Each of TFFT’s Scholarship Students is an orphaned or abandoned child who started life in one of our partner orphanages with little hope for the future, but as soon as they become part of TFFT’s Scholarship Program, that changes. They are still orphaned or abandoned children, but they belong to TFFT’s family. Our sponsors and the many families that contribute to our efforts make it possible for TFFT to provide scholarships to 76 children.

However, orphanages are still overflowing with children, and it may seem like 76 is not enough.

The Foundation For Tomorrow makes a promise to each of our Scholarship Students:

“We will be there for you. We will support, encourage, and guide you. We will cheer for you and challenge you. We will open your eyes to life’s possibilities, and we will share in your dreams. We will be your family.”

We promise that once part of our Scholarship Program, we will provide each child this support through Secondary School graduation, an average of 12 years. Throughout their 12 years with TFFT, each child costs TFFT approximately $21,000.

We accept new children slowly so that we can be certain that we will be able to fulfill our promise.

However, orphanages are still overflowing with children. How could we grow faster?

In 2011 TFFT opened a Scholarship Endowment. This fund will act as our safety net, our security blanket, and our parachute. As soon as we significantly grow this reserve, we will be able to more quickly accept the many children who deserve to be part of our program.

We have added the option to contribute to our Scholarship Endowment online and ask that you consider this meaningful way of giving.

Now that I have the pleasure of working for TFFT, I look at our Scholarship Students, and I can’t wait to see who they each become, to cheer as they accomplish their dreams, and to know that TFFT gave them the chance to leave their very special mark on our world.

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TFFT Form 4 Graduates Holiday – By: Josh Nassari (Scholarship Program Director)

24 Oct

Dear Friends,

As you may all know from my last blog post, this year we had three Form Four (end of O-Levels) graduates and eight Primary School graduates (USA equivalent of Grade 7). I am writing now to tell you about the exciting things that our Form Four graduates will be doing over the school break while they wait for their national exam results. Once they hear their national exam results they can move forward with their A-Levels (the last two years of high-school). Everyone here at TFFT is very proud of Isack, Ombeni, and Vaileth for completing Form Four and now we want to welcome them in the real world.

Before they took their exams Isack could not stop talking about how he wants to learn driving and basic car mechanic, and Vaileth has always talked about how she wants to attend computer classes while Ombeni seemed to be ok with whatever was going to come up. Since we want to keep the graduates busy during their break and empower them we are going to find them job placements and their salaries will be going towards learning a new skill, whether it be driving or computers.

Isack comes from Lushoto. He is one of the first kids that joined the TFFT Scholarship program from Irente Children’s Home in Lushoto. Now he wants to return to the center and work there. He is hoping to work at the store, assisting with purchasing items for the children and learning administrative skills. Three days a week he will spend working and the other days he will spend his salary learning how to drive and take computer classes. He is really excited about learning how to drive and use computers and knows that these are essential skills for future success.

Ombeni is going to be placed at Matonyok Parent’s Trust. This is one of TFFT’s partner orphanages that we work with in the Arusha area. Matonyok has lots of projects going on right now, including: producing bricks for sale to the community, a cow project, a horticulture project, and they are starting to classrooms as a start to their very own school. Ombeni is going to be the right hand man at the site and help where help is needed a few days a week. His salary will be going towards computer classes. He has also expressed interest in driving classes, but he has decided to first dedicate his time to computers and once he masters the necessary skills he will begin driving lessons.

Vaileth has continuously expressed interested in office management and administration. We have decided that she is going to work at the TFFT office in Arusha and help with all of our ongoing projects, including office management, the Full Circle Program, and Tutoring Program for the smaller children. We are very excited to have one of TFFT students join our office team and learn about all of the programs running. Vaileth will also be attending computer classes in town, which she is very excited about.

These experiences will allow all three of the graduates to hold real jobs and earn a salary. They are excited about paying for themselves to attend driving and computer school. We at TFFT strongly believe that this program is not only going to keep the students occupied while they wait for O-Level Results, but also empower them. We hope that they gain some real life skills and become excited about their futures and employment opportunities.

Running for a Ride – Chicago Marathon by Meghann Gunderman

11 Oct

My friend Lauren Fischer’s Blog inspired me to try and take in all the sites as I ran 26.2 miles in the Chicago Marathon. It is very easy to forget what you see as your body starts to react in anger to the many miles you are putting on it. I signed up to run Chicago back in May thinking it would be a wonderful way to get “my people” behind the work The Foundation For Tomorrow was doing. I find these days people are more inclined to support friends charitable passions when they are seeing them exert some sort of energy outside a donation letter. For me, fundraising is nonstop, it’s my job and what I do to help keep TFFT up and running. At this point all of my friends know what I do and know about The Foundation For Tomorrow, my thought was that running a marathon would get them even more engaged and potentially a little enthused to see me in pain…this enthusiasm turning into some cash. This in fact was very much the case. My friends came out in person and through their donations to wish me well, cheer me on and send funds enabling TFFT to serve more children.

SO, lets get to the good part: 4+ months of training, Friday nights lost due to 6am Saturday am runs, a great running group, friends made along the way and an awesome boyfriend at my side as we start October 9th off with a 4:45am wake up call!

The Charlotte crew got to the start with a solid hour to go. We all met up at Buckingham Fountain around 6:30am. The sun was rising over Lake Michigan as the excitement builds. The crowds were starting to get me nervous, excited and nervous but nervous none the less. I had done a marathon before but it had not been for over 5 years ago so I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect.

There was plenty of music to wake us up at the start line, Music and the smell vomit were what I recall of the start. Really?? were people that nervous? I thought we were about midway back in the open corral but geez the gun went off and I didn’t even know the elite runners had started. We just started walking forward as a mass crowd. It was only then I realized we were pretty far back. It took me a solid 15 minutes to get to the start line. I crossed it right at 7:44am. We were off, running out of Millennium Park. Mile one done- slow and steady at 10 minutes, so many fun faces standing on the bridges, hanging signs, cheering us all on. It was congested but everyone was still in good spirits. We were going right through the heart of the city. The crowds were insane. It was then I started to get a bit worried, crap – I should have told those who were cheering for me which side of the road to stand on. I think being a spectator at this point was harder than being a runner..all fighting for prime watching position. 2 miles in feeling good.

5km came right after we ran over the second bridge- love the water and this city but definitely should stay on the carpeted parts of the bridge, kind of slippery. I was starting to find my way, dropping my pace down to 9:45 a mile. I crossed the 5km mark at 8:14am.

It was here I realized I should start looking out for people. My mind was in a state of frenzy trying to recall what miles markers my friends and family said they would be at. I just kept scanning the crowd, getting a kick out of all the funny signs people made. There were nice, inspiring ones, encouraging us to keep going, there were massive cut outs of peoples faces, one lady had a sign with her number on it informing us all that she thought nipple chaffing was “sexy”. The ones I wasn’t as keen on were the ones reminding us we had 20+ miles to go..I even saw a guy hold one up that told his wife she had laundry to do when she got home, so she better hurry up. I noticed throughout plenty of people held signs saying “Congrats or Well done Complete Stranger.” I got a kick out of those ones…just grateful to have the consistent support from the Chi.

At around mile 5/6 we were passing Lincoln Park Zoo. It was kind of nice, thoughts of relaxing in the park brought me some peace. That was shortly overturned by the well dressed, preppy folks that were way to fresh faced and perky for my liking. It was 8:42am, I felt strong, I had brought my pace down to 9:09 at the 6 mile marker but realized I still have 20.2 miles to go.

Mile 8 I had been looking forward to since before the start. I heard about you guys.. It’s Boystown..I loved the energy.. Men in tutus, Elvis singing, plenty of bands and cross dressers to put a smile on my face!

I crossed the 15km mark at 9:14am..my pace was back at 10 minutes a mile..I had a little bathroom break in there..yes it took me 8+ miles to find a porta potty without a line! Loved it though because then I started drinking more water again- refreshing!

At this point I was more determined to find Ben (“BBE” – Best Boyfriend Ever) than I was to get to the halfway point. I wasn’t exactly sure what intersection I told him and I know my estimated times were way off..ekk.. will we ever see eachother?? RELIEF ..Mile 10..there he was all clean and fresh with him RIDICULOUSLY AMAZING FLOURESANT PINK SIGN! Thank you -Thank you!

I was good, almost halfway there (20km) in 2hrs and 2 minutes through, a little over 10 minutes a mile at this pace. It wasn’t ideal but I was known for negative splits so I was confident I could still get my 4 hour goal.

Starting to feel some hip pain but it was all mental..no problem, HALFWAY at 9:53am..2hrs and 9 minutes..slowing down, whats my issue now?…almost 11 minute a mile. Legs starting to really feel these miles…but in my head I was all confused 13 miles..thats nothing for me..I trained, this is mine..right? Maybe not so much!

Mile 14- Charity village –Mr. Rogers, no not the guy with the trains, Kaitlin’s dad! Something great to focus on..seeing another friendly face and getting inspired by all the charities represented in the race. I started to focus on all the peoples choices in running attire and the charities they were running for..lots of people had the names of people they were running for on their shirts, they had the mission, visions and goals for all that inspired them plastered across their chests..it was really cool to see how many people who were running were doing it for something greater than themselves. I was pretty pleased to know I was in good company. Then you had the ones that make you laugh.. The weirdos that have to make you wonder “What were you thinking”… Full on costumes, cave men, people in tutus, bananas even.

25km -15.5 miles – 10:22am – 11:56 pace – my legs are NOT cooperating at all! Shortly after the joy of Charity Village my muscle above my quad seized up –Really?? This has NEVER happened to me.. I’ve heard about it happening but in the 19+ years I’ve competed as a runner I have never had this happen. I was hydrating. A good amount of electrolytes and water.. I ate PLENTY before the race..protein shakes, weight training twice a week. I was strong..but I definitely didn’t feel strong! Then the sign “The last ten miles is all downhill”..come on – really? Do you think that inspires us..10 miles more..That sucks.

The light came shortly there after at Mile 16 when I saw Adam Rubin and Kaitlin Rogers. The TFFT crew arrived. Kaitlin had not only made a sign complete with a TFFT logo but also a stenciled of a runner and pictures of our kids. I loved it. I loved seeing them, the only bright spot in a dark moment for me. I tried to put a brave face on but I think they realized I wasn’t feeling it. I tried to just let them talk and get my mind off of things. Kaitlin informed me this was the “hood” we were running through– It’s no Unga Limited (Arusha’s hood) but I guess it works for Chi town. It was actually really a lot more friendly than expected. Lauren F had warned us on her blog the crowds thin out here but in fact people were still out in full force. Maybe more just out on their stoops thinking we were a bit off for running these long miles, but nonetheless they were out and keeping us runners entertained. I made a game out of finding the next kid with a garden hose trying to keep all us crazy runners cool. I felt like a pin ball being bounced around the back streets of Chi town…left-right-left-right..focus on the water. At one point we passed Church’s chicken. I thought I was going to vomit at the smell, not so appetizing at 17 miles in. It came right at the point a women was waving her cow bell at me with one hand, smoking her cig with the other – thank you ma’am for that breath of fresh air!

Mile 17 Kaitlin and Adam still running with me..thank god. They make me think that Mandu and Matayo are running by my side. For those of you who have never met these two, they are two of our TFFT Scholars, two big personalities. Mandu is half Kenyan, 10 yrs old and a rock. He had rickets as a child and couldn’t walk, now he could walk right over most of our middle schoolers. Matyo is lanky, squirrely and always in the thick of it. Both images make me laugh, smile and realize there is greater meaning to this mile than putting one foot in front of the other. While I don’t have any biological children, I have 76 kids I call mine, personalities that make me melt, that make me wake up in the morning and know I am on the right path. Thank you TEAM TFFT for reminding me mile 17 is just a number. Nothing more and that I can do this.

Mile 18 – BEN, yes finally ..again! Love it. Though it was obvious on his face I wasn’t looking that great. He took a little stretch with me at this point. I think I clocked in at 15 minutes that mile, probably the hardest point to get through. The sun was out, it was a little after 11am and I had been running for almost 3 and a half hours..this just isn’t natural.

Mile 19 I felt like I was in Mexico –vamos vamos – the crowd was really engaged. I tried to focus on this instead of the pain in my quads..run 7 minutes, walk a minute, keep going at this and I can get it done!

Ahh – then the nice man with his icepops – it was such a joy..cool relief I never thought I would have at this point! GRACIAS

Wait – Kaitlin you’re still with me..the non-runner had been so freaking supportive she was still with me – Asante Sana Kaitlin Rogers for that commitment! A true friend at my side. Mile 21: CHINA TOWN – dancing dragons and a lot of interesting smells. Mile 23, rounding a corner and heading towards the finish. Kaitlin leaves me after a 7 mile jog, but not before we toast our accomplishment with a cup of beer passed out to us runners! At this point I was just thinking..5km..not that bad, a piece of cake..I can muscle though this. 24.85miles – equivalent to 40km – 12:29am and still pretty slow with my run/walk effort. At this point it was truly pride.. I was not about to finish over 5 hours. I don’t care how bad I feel or what muscles tear, I was going to get in. I was already almost an hour slower than the first marathon I ran. Just get it done! The last few miles that is all I could think of – keep your head up and look for people turning right. I knew that as soon as you take a right turn it was up a hill to the left and you’re done! Those last two miles I dropped my pace to right about 10 minutes a mile. I am not sure how I did that but I was determined and more focused on my 5pm massage then anything around me.

Ok – so these last two miles are taking longer than expected. I knew I was looking for a sea of people turning right but when?? Where is Roosevelt? Come on, make me a happy girl and show me that turn. I knew there was a hill but I didn’t care, I just knew it meant relief. At this point I kept my eyes pealed all I could see though were confusing signs, 1000 meters right next to 1 mile to go. Ummm.. 1600 meters is 1 mile – that is a BIG difference in my life now, I need to know when to kick it in to high gear and muster all the strength I have left. Is it 1000 meters or 1 mile, how far am I from the finish???? 800 meters/Mile 26..ok, whichever it is, I can do this – I was an 800m runner in highschool. I was about at the top of the bridge/hill. I knew I could give it all I had left, inaccurate signs or not…Bliss..I see the words FNISH LINE as I take a left off the hill and give it all that I can.

Mile 26.2: 4hr, 59 minutes and 42 seconds according to them 4 hrs and 57 minutes on my watch..oh well – not pretty – not fast but RELIEVED!

I didn’t run this marathon for myself. I ran this marathon for The Foundation For Tomorrow, for our 76 TFFT Scholars and the thousands other that benefit from the services our team provides. The inspiration, goofy faces, heart wrenching pasts of my kids helped me muscle through the physical pain. That pain is nothing compared to growing up without parents to love, support and care after you. I’m so thankful TFFT kids came into my life. On a daily basis they make me want to be a better person, fight harder and talk louder- enabling them the same educational opportunities we are provided here in the West. They inspire me to work for a world that allows them to dream as big as any other child in this world!

 

Thank you for being a part of this journey with us. May it continue to build steam and push on forward!

 

I have high hopes for you nuggets!

 

“Kid you’ll move mountains

So… Be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ale Van Allen O’Shea,

You’re off to great places!

Today is your day!

Your mountain is waiting.

So… Get on your way.”

Dr. Seuss – Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

TFFT Kids Go Green! By Melissa Queyquep

3 Oct

The Full Circle Program started the third term with the theme Environment. For September, sessions focused on the “Natural Environment” and “Biodiversity”. Japhet Jonas, the Program Coordinator of the Roots and Shoots Club, a program of the Jane Goodall Institute Tanzania, came to present to the older primary kids and the secondary students about the Environment and Biodiversity. Japhet surely got the kids’ attention when he presented the status of Tanzania’s environments and the challenges that currently beset them. Occasionally you could hear them gasp and let out yelps of concern. After the presentation, the kids were grouped and each given an environmental case study to analyze. Group leaders presented their groups’ thoughts about the case assigned to them. Japhet Jonas will be seen by the kids more often soon as a Roots and Shoots Club is on the process of being established/revived at the Usa River Academy.

The same theme would be covered this month of October and exciting sessions are lined up for the kids like making recycled paper, environmental projects, and also story-telling sessions using stories that highlight the importance of caring for the environment. September had been particularly busy with graduation and also the students’ schedules being revamped due to the remedial program instituted by the school. With that being said, we are excited about Usa River Academy this term. They hired a new school manager and with that many changes will come. One such change is that TFFT has been given our very own room to conduct our Full Circle sessions in! We are also looking at the possibility of making the Full Circle sessions available to other students aside from our scholars, this term.