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Introducing New Full Circle Director

24 Apr

Since Adam finished his time as Full Circle Director, Melissa and the rest of the team have done an amazing job stepping up while we searched for the perfect person to fill the job. Full Circle, our after school program, is a critical component of our Scholarship Program, and it takes a very creative, motivated, compassionate, and driven person to lead the program. Today, we’re excited to announce that we found that perfect person–Chloe Crocker!

While our preference is almost always to hire native Tanzanians, we seek an American for this role because the concept of after school programs and extracurricular activities is not common in Tanzania. We believe that education extends far beyond the classroom, and Full Circle enriches our kids’ lives in an incredibly special and important way.

We are so lucky that Chloe found us. It was only a week and a half ago that she accepted the job, and she arrived in Tanzania yesterday! She is ready to hit the ground running, and we are thrilled to welcome her to our team. Karibu Chloe!

Tell us a little about yourself- where are you from, what do you do in your spare time/what are your hobbies?

My family is from Tulsa, Oklahoma. I have an older brother, Paul, and a younger sister, Katy, and my parents are Patty and Reggie.  I was home schooled from second grade onward, but I was very involved in extracurricular activities growing up, like 4-H. I majored in Agricultural Leadership and Development at Texas A&M. I love cheering on my Aggie Football team, playing the piano, cooking, and gardening in my spare time!

Can you tell us more about your previous experiences in Tanzania?

I worked as a Volunteer Program Officer with 4-H Tanzania for 6 months in 2011 in Tanga, TZ.  Part of my job was to help connect 4-H programs in the US with programs in Tanzania. I also visited 4-H Clubs to find out the types of activities that they were doing so we could better develop our programming and our monitoring and evaluation systems. 4-H Tanzania conducted a huge study on gender equality with our clubs and I helped lead meetings with 4-H parents to find simple solutions to problems that girls were facing within their clubs and school. By far, my favorite part of work was visiting with 4-H members about their projects and how they were learning to be self-sufficient in their future!  Tanzanian youth are so diligent and hardworking in entrepreneurship ventures, they are truly preparing for their future.

What is it that is drawing you back?

Growing up, I had a wonderful support system of family and 4-H and community leaders. I like to think that without them I would still have achieved all that I have, but they truly provided me the opportunities to succeed in life and the skills and confidence to take advantage of those opportunities. I realized that without them, my life would have been drastically different. I can think of no better deserving youth than those served by TFFT to help find opportunities in life and help them develop the skills necessary to become the people that they once never imagined possible.

How did you first learn about TFFT?

The first time I heard about TFFT was by seeing this job posting on Idealist.org. When I read the requirements and job description, I knew that it was a job that I would love.

What about TFFT’s mission inspires you?

The idea of empowering the future of Tanzania through educating those who would never receive an education otherwise totally inspires me. In the US education is so easily accessible for most that we take it for granted. The concept that we can so drastically alter someone’s path and give them the ability to create their own identity, and in turn change their country’s identity is very motivating (and a little intimidating).

What attracted you to the position as Full Circle Director?

I have always enjoyed working with youth in a non-formal teaching environment. My history with 4-H has taught me that there is so much more to learn beyond traditional school. Teaching life and livelihood skills opens up the opportunity for hands on learning, teamwork, and building confidence and leadership.

What are your goals for the year?

In my 6 months I spent in Tanzania last year, I gained great familiarity with Kiswahili, but I am going to be working hard to become fluent as quickly as possible. I would love to start some school gardens if they are not in place and look at working entrepreneurship into the areas that we are studying. I would also like to create partnerships with some of the organizations that I already have relationships with.

What life skills will you prioritize for cultivating our students?

As a “Jack of all trades” type of person, it is hard for me to prioritize because I can see the value of each skill.  However, some of the life skills that are near to my heart and I also feel are extremely important are leadership, public speaking, community involvement, teamwork, garden keeping, environmental awareness, cooking and nutrition, and health.

Anything else you would like to share?

I am so excited to get back to Tanzania and start work–Jet lag and all!

Full Circle Video

19 Apr

Adam and Happy (TFFT Scholarship Student)

Hello and happy Thursday! Adam Rubin, our former Full Circle Director, who is fabulous, put this video together at the end of his time in Tanzania. Full Circle is an important component of our Scholarship Program. All of our scholarship students participate in this after-school holistic approach to education. Adam summarizes it best below:

The aim of the Full Circle program is to transform students into positive agents of social change within their communities by equipping them with skills they would have traditionally been taught in a proper family environment. During the first term we helped them to become independent adults by teaching them about Life Skills: goals and dreams, decision-making, communication, self-esteem, teamwork and leadership. Reinforcement in this term provided the majority of our primary girls with a Girls Empowerment Workshop while our secondary students learned about community service by carrying out projects at our partner orphanages. During the second term our kids learned about basic health and hygiene, as well as HIV/AIDS awareness. Other activities within Term 3 of this program were directed by TFFT Member Melissa Queyquep, which focused on environmental conservation.

See it all for yourself here:

Have a great rest of the week and weekend! We’ll be back Monday with Nancy’s essay about hats :)

Meet Rosemary

8 Mar

In honor of National Women’s Day we would like to celebrate all the young women in our Scholarship Program who inspire us every day. In doing so, we’re pleased to introduce to you to Rosemary, one of the students who worked with Adam on the Narrative Project.

My name is Rosemary, I am eleven years old and I am in Standard Five. My favorite subject in school is English and I really love to sing choir songs. My best friends are Joyce, Onisa, Ashura and Janeth. The thing I love most about myself is my self-esteem and that I am really funny. I am also good at drawing. In addition to singing I also love acting, and always enjoy doing things with my friends.

I came from a region in Tanzania called Palesika. Both of my parents are deceased. I never had the opportunity to see them because they died when I was very young. I don’t have any brothers or sisters. I was raised in Nkoaranga Orphanage and life was good growing up there because Mama Pendo was the one who took care of me. When I was very young my dream was to be a doctor. I knew it was impossible to achieve my goals and dreams at this time though, I needed to get an education first.

The saddest moment in my life was when I realized that I don’t have parents, not even one. I felt really lonely. I thought my life would always be bad. I gained hope that my life could be good later when I joined The Foundation for Tomorrow.

I joined The Foundation for Tomorrow in 2007 after coming from Nkoaranga Orphanage. TFFT gave me a good life. TFFT gave me education. I will use this education in a good way so as to keep moving forward in my life. My goal is to continue studying until the end in order to get a good job. Yes, if God is on my side I will achieve my dream.

You can leave a note for Rosemary or any of our sweet girls in the comments below. If you’d like, you can read Sophia’s narrative here, and please remember our discussion on the truths revealed through writing here. We are so proud of all our young girls and the confident, compassionate, talented women we are watching them become!

*Photographs by the wonderful Anne Rhett

Telling Our Stories

24 Feb

By: Adam Rubin and Kaitlin Rogers

While we were supposed to post Meghann’s Strategic Planning follow-up  piece yesterday, it isn’t quite ready yet. Life in Tanzania moves at its own pace, and that pace is slooooow and unpredictable and requires patience! Not to worry, that post is coming, and it’s going to be an interesting one, as the team has devoted many, many hours to strategic planning workshops this month.

Today, however, I have something for you that is also very interesting and important. Last month we published Sophia’s narrative and then followed that with this post addressing the importance of honesty. We plan to post more student narratives here over the next few months, but first we would like to back up and explain the writing process that the students went through to produce their narratives.

Adam Rubin, TFFT’s Full Circle Program Director, explains:

I chose this project because I wanted to do something that could allow the students to open up, both to themselves and to one another. I had noticed emotional barriers for a number of our girls in class 4-6 (all of the 4-6 Full Circle participants class were girls). I thought there could be a link between emotional issues that are kids haven’t yet overcome and academic struggles and that the opportunity to share their stories could be therapeutic.

Of course, in doing so, Adam needed to be sensitive to the kids’ traumatic pasts. He had earned the kids’ respect and trust over the months he spent working with them, but as a young, white, American male, he wanted to make sure the girls felt as comfortable as possible being interviewed on some very personal topics.

Adam, Sam, and the girls

Adam, therefore, explains that,

asking the Secondary Students to help me with the project was a clear choice. They viewed it as an opportunity to be role models to their younger brothers and sisters (we even had Ombeni interview little sister Julieth!). Some of the students cried, while others kept a straight face, and others smiled. Some opened up completely and told the truth, while others invented stories of their childhood in what appeared to be either a defense mechanism to avoid a painful past or a recollection of the story that was told to them by family. The entire interview was conducted in Swahili and the answers were also written in Swahili by our Secondary Students. The process took one Full Circle class period, and Fratern (who helped and interviewed Witness Yonah) and guest teacher, Sam Satock, joined me. Sam helped explain the process to our students and answered questions about the interview along the way. Then, Uswege helped to translate all of the stories from Swahili to English. Finally, Anne Rhett photographed the girls, and I combined the stories and photos together into what is now a short collection of their narratives.

Ombeni interviews his little sister, Julieth

As we continue posting the narratives, you will notice that they follow a similar structure. This is because the students all answered the same questions before composing the narratives:

1)     Please describe yourself. How old are you and which class are you in? What is your favorite subject in school? What do you like to do (play, sing, dance, draw, write, study, read, etc.)?   Who are your best friends? What do you love most about yourself (self-esteem)? Please describe your traits (i.e. beautiful, smart, funny, caring, nice) and your skills (i.e. writing, singing, dancing, cooking, drawing). What kind of person are you? What are your best qualities?

2)     Please describe your childhood. Where did you come from? Are your parents still living or deceased? Did you know your parents? What happened to them? What about your brothers and sisters? What was life like growing up? Who took care of you? When you were very young, what were your goals and dreams? Did you think you could achieve your goals and dreams when you were very young? If yes, why? If no, why not?

3)     What was the saddest moment in your life? Please explain what happened and how you felt. At that time, what did you think your future was going to be like? Did you have hope that things were going to improve? Where did you get your hope and inspiration from?

4)     When did you join The Foundation for Tomorrow? Did you stay in an orphanage? If so, which one? How has TFFT changed your life? What has TFFT given you? Please explain the happiest moment in your life. Please explain what happened and how you felt.  How will you use your education? Now, what are your goals and dreams? Do you think you can achieve them?

Thank you, Adam, for thoughtfully designing and facilitating this writing process. We hope to expand on this project this summer using the Literacy Through Photography approach—more on that to come! Meghann will also share the outcome of the meeting she had today in Moshi with the POFO (Positive Outcomes For Orphans) research team, a subset of the Duke Global Health Institute. I can’t wait to hear what TFFT’s team learned about POFO’s work with cognitive behavioral therapy research and intervention for orphans in Tanzania.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Extraordinary Moments

14 Feb

What makes your family special? You may eat three meals a day, take the kids to school, and have routine doctors checkups, but is that what makes your family unique? Or is your family is special because of the relationships that exist, the traditions you create, and the everyday moments that are personal to you and the ones you love?

Think of the little “nothings” that you do for your loved ones every day. These moments often come disguised as ordinary because they come and go without even being noticed… they may even seem routine—reading a bedtime story and tucking kids into bed; preparing a PB&J sandwich for lunch; a kiss goodbye; waiting at the bus stop; asking about homework; sitting on the sidelines of a soccer game; etc.

In a loving home environment, these moments are natural, and they happen time and again… every. single. day. However, to many, such moments would in fact be extraordinary.

They would be extraordinary because these “no-big-deal” moments mean:

You are loved. Someone cares for you. Someone looks after you.

These seemingly small acts silently communicate over and over again:

“I love you”

“I’m proud of you”

“You mean something to me”

“You are important.”

Too many kids in this world do not have this.

TFFT is proud to have 82 kids on scholarship. Most importantly, we are proud to personally know the children we support. We aim to provide much more than education, a backpack, food, etc.

A person survives with food, water, and education. A person thrives with love, support, and guidance. We want our TFFT kids to thrive.

We recognize that most of life’s most important lessons are typically modeled in a healthy home environment. Our children suffer from traumatic pasts lacking stable home environments, and Full Circle, TFFT’s after school program, aims to meet the personal and emotional needs of the orphaned and abandoned children we support. This program is custom designed to develop leadership skills and confidence and to provide students with the skills necessary to become independent, responsible, and compassionate adults prepared to live healthy and productive lives.

We make each of our scholarship children a promise:

“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.”

Our team on the ground runs this program and works with the kids daily. We support our scholarships children for an average of 12 years. We attend their graduations, celebrate their achievements, ask them about their dreams, and teach them how to care for themselves. Through Full Circle we strive to provide those extraordinary “everyday” acts.

I hope you will try to be more aware and appreciative of the extraordinary moments hiding throughout your days. Each is a true blessing!

THANK YOU to all who participated in our SHARE the Love Campaign by making Valentines for our kids. We will hand deliver these cards made with so much love and care to our kids in a few weeks, and they will each feel a little more special and loved after receiving them.

We recently read this, and loved the idea of Generosity Day on Valentine’s Day. There is still time to STACK the Love and help the TFFT kiddos thrive by supporting Full Circle! Full Circle costs $265 per child annually… less than a dollar a day can provide a year’s worth of extraordinary moments. We’re closing this page at the end of the day, so head over to donate $10 (the cost of a box of chocolates!) in honor of Generosity Day!

Wishing you Peace, Love, & Hugs,

Kaitlin and TFFT

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,

Nancy

***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!