Archive | January, 2012

TFFT Teachers Training 2012 kicks off at Star High School

30 Jan

By Melissa Queyquep, TFFT’s Teacher Training Program Director

This year’s first teacher training was held recently at Star High School. The theme for the training was “Managing Classrooms Effectively to Maximize Student Learning,” and we covered Classroom Management, Assessment, and Grading. Held at Star High School last January 4th to 6th, fourteen teachers attended the training.

Apart from inputs from the facilitator about classroom management and what it covers, the training became a venue for the teachers to share their own strategies on establishing and maintaining classroom conditions that facilitate teaching and learning. As expected, the session on addressing misbehaviors in class was the most heated. TFFT advocates for positive behavior modification approaches where corporal punishment does not have a place. We spent the session distinguishing between punishment and discipline. as quite often in Tanzania (and in most developing countries) these two are used interchangeably and even thought to be the same. There were exercises that involved the teachers in drawing up natural consequences or disciplinary measures for common misbehaviors they encounter in class. I believe the session opened their eyes, but honestly I am not expecting that it would change the discipline system overnight. The teachers even said the parents expect them to cane the students!

Group work is a main feature of TFFT workshops. The group presentation and the “grilling” of the presenters by the other groups is always the most enjoyable part of our trainings!

Group work is a main feature of TFFT workshops. The group presentation and the “grilling” of the presenters by the other groups is always the most enjoyable part of our trainings!


A lot of interest was also generated regarding different types of assessment, and the teachers requested another training that would further discuss this topic. The school manager, Father Mike Mushi, requested that we create a training schedule for the whole year so that the teachers can plan their activities accordingly. “The teachers do not want to miss out on these opportunities,” he said. Father Edward Urassa, school headmaster, and I are working on the 2012 Star High Teacher Training Program.

Denise McFadden and Fratern Tarimo, TFFT board member and Managing Director respectively, attended the closing ceremony and helped in awarding the certificates to the teachers who completed the 3-day training.

Denise McFadden addresses the teachers during the closing ceremony. In the picture too were TFFT’s Fratern Tarimo and Star High School school manager, Fr. Mike Mushi, and outgoing deputy headmistress, Sr. Mosha.


Mr. Henry Sanga, participant, receives his certificate.


The training’s best performers


2012 promises to be a busy year for the teacher training program, as the number of training beneficiaries has increased to four, with the lifting of the service suspension for Usa River Academy and the addition of Matonyok Primary School, a newly-opened non-profit school managed by a long time TFFT partner, Matonyok Parents Trust.


The Absolute Truth

27 Jan

Memory has a way of embellishing, omitting, and altering life events, and as with any reflective writing, the absolute truth can become skewed. Sophia and the other girls in classes 4 through 6 recently worked with our Full Circle Director to write down their stories as they recalled them.


Sophia beautifully and bravely shared her recollection of her past. In doing so she stated that her father was stabbed to death and her mother was killed in a car accident.

Upon reading Sophia’s story, Fratern, our Managing Director, called the guardians who care for Sophia during the school holidays and verified that her father died of natural causes and her mother fled. We cannot know how Sophia’s grandmother explained her parents’ absence to her. We do, however, know that Sophia’s past—as with all of our kids—was difficult and tragic. We could have omitted those “inaccurate” details from Sophia’s writing, but we chose to leave them. It may not be the absolute truth, but it is Sophia’s truth. Conversely, we also want to make sure that we remain honest with you on this blog.

This also brings up some important questions:

What is the best way for us to help our kids cope with their past?

How can we best address our kids’ complex emotional needs?

What do inconsistencies in stories about our pasts reveal about ourselves and others?

Baba Juma greets Sophia as she returns home for the July school holiday

One of our main priorities in 2012 is to help our children emotionally. All of the kids TFFT supports have been through a lot, and we will never know for sure the exact complexities of some of their pasts. Meghann will spend her much of her time in Tanzania next month meeting with individuals who are experts in this field. We will search for a social worker who will then work with our kids on an individual basis.

Nicemary comforts Neema because she's feeling sad

We will keep you updated on our progress in finding the right person to work with the kids. Meghann leaves for Tanzania tomorrow, so let’s wish her safe travels, “Safari njema!”

Meet Sophia, TFFT Scholarship Student

26 Jan

My name is Sophia, I am ten years old and in Standard Four. My favorite subjects in school are mathematics and geography and I really enjoy studying. I was born in the Tengeru Region of Arusha, Tanzania. Both of my parents passed away when I was very young. My mother was killed in a car accident and my father was stabbed by a knife. I was very young when my parents died so I never had the opportunity to see them. The stories of my parents’ deaths were told to me by my grandmother, who was the only one that was there to take care of me.

The saddest moment in my life was the time my grandmother told me that my parents had passed away. I felt really bad at this time in my life because I was lacking basic needs like food, clothes and education. I had a feeling that my life would be so difficult because those who were supposed to help me were not there. Even through all of this, I still trusted that my life would improve and that I would receive a scholarship to attend school even before I reached Standard One.

I joined The Foundation for Tomorrow when I was in Standard One. TFFT has changed my life in very big ways. First they gave me education – I had the opportunity to learn just like other people and also I was able to receive a quality education at a good school like what I am at now. TFFT also gave me things which I needed for school like clothes, shoes, soap, etc.  The happiest moment in my life is when I received my scholarship from TFFT and I was able to go to school. I felt so good after getting the scholarship and I was very happy. I will use my education in a good way and I will work hard in class. Still my dream is to be a teacher, and I know I can do it.

**Sweet Sophia write this narrative in the summer of 2011. She is now in Class Five.

*** Thank you to Anne Rhett for the beautiful photographs of Sophia

****Leave your thoughts/encouragement/support/questions for Sophia in the comments, and we’ll pass them along to her.

My Christmas Holiday (Nancy Felix)

23 Jan

My Christmas holiday was very wonderful. When I came back from school my brother was so happy to see me. He asked me about school and the national examination which I did on 8th Nov 2011. I told him that the school was good and the exams too. As the days kept moving I was not idle because I had a beautiful novel which we were given by TFFT; the novel was “THE BOY WHO HARNESSED THE WIND”. It is a very good novel which tells about a boy whose name is WILLIAM.  It explains how he grew up from his childhood to an adult and he learned how to utilize wind as a source of energy.  I real enjoyed the book and had fun. I visited my relatives and my friends also who closed school earlier.  We played different funny games with them as we were all happy to meet each other again.  We asked each other some questions about our schools.

I also slept a lot and had fun around the house. My friends and I also went for a few tours in the neighborhood, It was enjoyable and fun. One day we just went for a walk and we saw a very big river which looked very beautiful. We sat on the big stone in the river and every one of us wished to swim but we couldn’t because we never had any clothes with us for changing.  We started making stories, laughing, jumping on the stones and climbing the trees around the river. Accidentally one of my friends jumped into the water instead of the stone, so the clothes she was in were all wet and we all had to wait for the sun to dry her clothes then we leave the place together as we went together.  We thanked God that the friend wasn’t hurt.  Instead of her being sad, she was very happy for what happened because we wanted not to leave the river early.

When her clothes were dry, she said still they were not yet dry.  We all told her that it was not safe for us to be late and of course we were all girls, something that worried us.  We all said bye bye to the river so we could leave and go back home.  When I got back home I was very tired so I just took a shower, changed my clothes took a rest, when I woke up, I ate my food, drunk some water, and then went out for some fresh air.  I sat under the tree then my brother came, we started making stories. He asked me “what post do you have in school?” I told him I am a prefect in English department he laughed and told me that I didn’t write well in English but I only speak well, and when I speak I speak like a European girl.  I told him to stop his jokes as he was too much on me just because I am the English department prefect.  After that it was already dark. My brother told me to get in the house because it was not safe for me to stay out when it is dark.  I obeyed him and went in the house.  We all went for a night sleep. The next day I was just at home reading my books so I wasn’t that much bored.

On Christmas day, we (I mean me, my brother and my sister) took tea and bread early in the morning with some local fruits around our place; mangoes, bananas and sugar cane. We cleaned the house and started decorating it with many staffs without forgetting the Christmas tree.

The Christmas trees were just around our home place, the local ones, but they were very good and beautiful to look at.  We also had some flowers and many other things.  On this day we started to cook the food early because we had many different kinds of food to prepare, like spaghetti, rice with beans, chips with eggs, meat with chapatti (local bread), and also cooked vegetables.  There were drinks also of different types and boiled milk which is my best drink because I have some problems with my stomach.  It was a very nice day, every one was happy and enjoying it.

We had visitors who were our relatives from different places and friends who I studied with in my primary school. We played many good games.  The day was over with a lot of gladness and happiness to everyone.

After all that everyone was attentively waiting for the New Year.  On the New Year ’s Eve no one went to sleep, we waited to see the new year 2012. At 12:00 O’clock on dot everyone was happy, making a lot of noise as I was among them, beating drums and everything else.  In the morning we woke up, took tea and started cooking earlier.  Different foods and different drinks and even some few snacks it is my favorite thing to do (eating snacks) every time! Some of which are Kebabs, sweets, cake, pan cakes, beeps, and many other things.  I enjoyed the day till the end.

It was nearly opening the school time after the New Year holiday, so after two days I started preparing myself for school which opened on 8th January 2012.  I wouldn’t come to school this day though because we got a problem in the family and that’s why we remained at home.  My aunt, the sister to my father, died so we had to remain at home for the burial.  On 12th January, 2012 we came back to school, both my sister and myself.  Every one knew about what happened, so the teachers, the school management and our fellow students felt sorry and they were like, “sorry guys for what happened”.  So my sister and I said thank you its life don’t mind.  And I tried to forget everything about home and brought my mind back to school, and I started learning normally with my fellow students.  This was all about my holiday and it’s the holiday that I loved and it’s the December holiday that I always love the most.

Your Daughter,


***Leave Nancy a note in the comments, and we’ll pass them along to her!

Postscript to Full Circle’s Environment theme (Melissa Queyquep)

17 Jan

Last week we closed the Environment theme with a recycling activity. On separate days, Classes 1-3, 4-6, and the secondary students tried their hand in recycling paper. You would imagine how excited the kids were, especially the classes 1-3, with the activity. We did the session at the dining hall and had to stop several times because the kids became so unruly, everyone wanted to get involved. But anyway, after several stops, we were able to make 2 sheets of paper. Mandu, who is in Class 2, amazed at how “new” paper can be made from used paper, asked me: “Madam, can you fly an airplane too?” I laughed and told him no. Funny how children, innocent as they are, when they see you doing something they think is extraordinary, start believing that you are capable of doing anything.

I have been harboring desire of going back to the classroom to teach. Through Full Circle, I relived my teaching days, preparing lesson plans and activity sheets. But as a teacher I know that one can only plan so much. A session is always dynamic, especially if you allow the students to participate. A student’s question could lead you discussing things you did not anticipate. Two weeks ago, my session with our Form 2 scholars took this unexpected but rather enjoyable turn. Fratern was there, pitching in when necessary. From biodiversity and ecosystems, we ended up talking about acid rain and the Kyoto Protocol. Fratern even had to recall his Chemistry and write the formula for carbonic acid. It was a vibrant discussion. I did not plan to give them an assignment but the session, rich and stimulating as it was, merited it. I invited them to write their thoughts about how a country can develop without causing too much damage to the environment. The work below was submitted by Richard Augustino.

How development can happen without causing too much damage to the environment

By: Richard Augustino, TFFT scholar, Form 2


Development is gradual change from a bad situation to a better situation both economically, politically, and socially. Nowadays development brings a lot of problems to the environment, which can be solved as follows:

  • The government and international organizations should be active enough in supporting and governing different activities like industrial activities which is the leading pollutant of the environment. By doing so pollutants may be minimized.
  • The combustion system in engines must be fitted with efficient facilities so that the amount of greenhouse gases can be reduced if not eradicated totally.
  • Develop the use of alternative energy sources, which are environment friendly like solar power and wind power.
  • There should be strong policies governing industrial operations and ensuring that people who invest in industrial development are given proper education on how to handle waste products properly.
  • Industrial wastes should be treated to render them harmless to the health of people, plants, and animals.
  • There should be establishment of other economic activities like fishing, tourism, and market gardening instead of depending on mining and other activities because these industries pollute the environment leading to health problems.
  • Reforestation and afforestation should be undertaken. Trees should be planted where they are cut down and planted in areas where they don’t exist at all.

Generally, according to what are mentioned above, great change should be done in the industrial sector by developing other activities so as to avoid over-dependence on manufacturing and mining industries.

The theme for this month is Nutrition and briefly I told the kids what to expect. The secondary kids are already excited, and Dickluck have already expressed his intention to be the first one to cook!

Back to School!

11 Jan

Written By: Fratern Tarimo, Managing Director

I can’t believe how time speeds by… Seems like yesterday when we took kids back home after the end of the third term at Usa River Academy (URA) and second term at Star High School (SHS) and here I am already blogging about taking them back to school to start a new term. On Saturday we took 8 of our students who were accepted to start Form One at SHS. Their faces mirror the excitement as well as the uncertainty that usually come with starting a new chapter in one’s life. These eight kids are starting secondary level in a new school—new environment, new teachers, new classmates.

This term we were fortunate to have Board Member Denise McFadden from the US join us and help throughout the process. The TFFT team was very happy to have extra helping hand at one of our busiest activities of the year. The appreciation did not just end with the staff but extends to the kids themselves. Kids who were picked up by Denise couldn’t stop calling attention to the fact that they came with “Mama Denise”!

The following day, January 8th, was URA students’ turn to be picked up and ferried back to school. Checking kids in at URA has never been easy but this time we were surprised at how organized the school was. Tables were arranged all around the main campus with teachers at each table to do registration. Students were greeted cheerfully by the teachers and welcomed back while the process of checking items continued. One could easily tell that this time around a new management was in place.

This year we are also excited to welcome seven new kids in our scholarship program. Of the seven kids, three from Nkoaranga Orphanage have already arrived at school ready to start classes while arrangements are being made for the other 4 students to start school soon. With these additional students, TFFT now supports over 80 kids in our scholarship program.

Many thanks to the TFFT team, including Denise McFadden for helping out with the process. Special thanks to Joshua Nassari, TFFT Scholarship Program Director, who spent his birthday ferrying kids to school. We are also very grateful for the parents, guardians, and foster families for helping with preparing the kids for school. Last but not least, we are very thankful to our sponsors for making it possible for these kids to get a quality education.


Deb Schwedhelm to capture RIDETZ’s magic in June

5 Jan

As many of you know, my initial connection to TFFT was as the photographer for RIDETZ. Tamara Lackey gave me this opportunity, for which I will be forever grateful.

That was in 2010.

Now it is 2012, and we are gearing up for our second RIDETZ adventure this June. Because I will participate as a rider this summer, it was my job to find the perfect photographer to document the experience.

Deb Schwedhelm is a brilliant photographer whose work has been a source of inspiration for me for years. Her photographs are honest, powerful, and poetic. After consistently reading her blog, I had a feeling that the woman behind the images is as special as the photographs themselves.

“What if she would photograph RIDETZ?!”

It seemed like a shot in the dark, but I wrote her an email and crossed my fingers. Lo and behold she responded—with enthusiasm—saying she wanted to do it!

I know our second RIDETZ journey will be as magical and life changing as the first, and we feel so fortunate that we will have Deb along for the trip. Not only will those 10 days be filled with unforgettable moments, we will have Deb’s photographs to remember them by, which will be a gift for everyone.

You can see more of Deb’s work and read her blog post about RIDETZ here.

Does a 10-day bike trip in Tanzania from Mount Kilimanjaro to the Indian Ocean sound like the adventure of a lifetime to you? It is! And we would love to have you join us. Find more details on the ride here and feel free to email me ( at any time. Space is limited to 20 riders.

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We have a great feeling about what is in store for TFFT in the New Year. What are your big plans?