Tuko pamoja (we are united)

21 Feb

By: Meghann Gunderman, Founder and Executive Director

I have been back in Tanzania now for almost a month, and once again I am inspired and excited. Not only have we celebrated our scholars academic success, I have seen firsthand the physical and intellectual growth in all of our children. It is crazy how much growth happens in 4 months (the time between my visits).

I spend most of my days with the team in the office for the first half of the day and then visiting our partner schools or one of our partner orphanages in the afternoon. Interacting with and listening to our children gives me hope and brings me joy.

I have started to read more blogs recently, and one that stands out challenges us to “Choose Joy.”  I love that mentality. In life, whether here in Tanzania or in the West, there challenges, obstacles, and hurdles can get in the way, but you can turn your day around by “Choosing Joy.” I look to my kids for joy, and in turn I see the value in our work. I have yet to be disappointed:

I have found myself more than once sitting on the steps of the girls’ dorm talking about the future with our girls as they wonder, how do we move forward as young women? How do we impact our communities?


Our number one student Richard, told us that even in his new, more academically challenging school, he will strive to be number one.

Salvatory Seth (left) and Richard Augustino (right)

Irene Peter found out that George Mavroudis, one of TFFT’s supporters, will take her up in an airplane in a few weeks so that she can start to realize her dream to become a pilot.

Irene Peter, future pilot

Much of my time here this month is also focused on our 3 year strategic plan. We are working with In-Depth Consulting, our stakeholders here on the ground, and our Board of Directors to define our collective vision and to develop a strategy to achieve that vision, identify our threats, implement our mission, and drive results. As I examine our work over the past 5 years, I can’t help but be proud. We have empowered hundreds of children to believe what once seemed impossible. We’ve brought NGOs, the government, and the community together to challenge status quo and look for a plan to not only advocate on behalf of orphans and vulnerable children but to take steps to make real changes.

strategic planning session

A friend here challenged me last week to focus on actions that are transformational. Be confident that we have the power to change policy and improve the QUALITY of education on the district, regional and national level. Moving forward, I hope this will be a theme with my blog posts, I want to be held accountable.

I want you to ask us what we have done this month that is transformational? Keep asking us, “what are your plans?” “How do you plan to do X,Y & Z?”

In return I will share with you guys our steps towards transformation. It is not only affecting change amongst our scholars, we have now taken on the stance to make this difference at the community level throughout Tanzania. The challenge is large, but what challenge isn’t?

While our strategy is not complete and will continue to evolve, I am enthused by the conversation and engagement we have seen this week in our workshops with other civil service organizations, interested individuals, partner orphanages, partner schools, our students, private sector partners and other educational institutions working here in the Arusha area. Tuko pamoja (we are united).

To be continued on Thursday. Happy Tuesday!

See more pictures from Meghann’s trip here and read about the half marathon she and some of our students are training for here.


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