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Nancy’s Response

15 May

Today you get to hear from Miss Nancy again. As promised, we shared the comments that you left her after reading her post entitled My Christmas Holiday. Nancy took the time to respond to each comment, and you can read her responses below!


I loved reading about your school and home life Nancy, Thank you so much for sharing! Please keep us posted on how the rest of your year goes. And please encourage your classmates to write too:)

All my best,






Hi! Pam,


Hope that you are fine, on my side am good and healthy. I was so excited to read the letter you sent to me. Am glad that you love reading about my school and home life Pam, don’t worry I will keep sharing a lot with you, did you read my blog post about The Hat?? I think you will love reading it too!


I love my school and enjoy the teacher who teach me in different subjects in school. When are you going to visit us?


Lots of love and hugs to you!




Nancy Phelix



Hi Nancy! Your December Holiday sounds like it was really fun and really relaxing. So happy you read and enjoyed The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind. I haven’t read it yet, but you just inspired me to pick up a copy and start reading! Good luck with your classes this session. Sending you all big hugs and lots of love from New York.


PS – Eating snacks is one of my favorite things to do too :)




Hi! Sari,


I hope you are fine, on my side am good and healthy. It was happy to hear from you dear one, and it was very lovely and exciting to have a letter from you. It is true that my December holiday was really fun and really relaxing. And about the book The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, please try to have a copy and read it. Thank you a lot for the good luck wishes, and the love with hugs. Much love and hugs from bunny (rabbit) I mean its me. Take care and enjoy your time.




Nancy Phelix



Nancy! You have such an impressive way with words, and I really loved reading about your holiday break. I hope that you will consider writing more stories about your life for the blog in the future. Many people go to the website to read the blog each day, and I know a lot of people have already read your post, so you can consider yourself a published author :)

Love, Kaitlin







Dear Kaitlin,


I hope that you are fine, on my side am okey and healthy. It was so exciting to read the letter you sent to me. Am now considering myself as a published author & a great designer in the world. Did you read my blog about The Hat? When are you going to come visit us in Arusha? I miss you very much!!


Usa River Academy is good and it gives us qualified education for both levels. I love my teacher especially when teaching in class, I really enjoy and pay attention. How are you doing?? How is everything? Lots of love to you with hugs!





You can read Nancy’s second blog post A Hat her dream of becoming a fashion designer here. We will post responses from Irene, Rosemary, and Sophia as soon as we receive them. The kids absolutely love hearing from you!!


A Hat

23 Apr

By Nancy Phelix, TFFT Scholarship Student, Form 3

Nancy wants to be a fashion designer. This has been her dream for years now, and we believe she will achieve it– just notice how she adds flair to her school uniform with pink and purple clips and by loosening her tie a bit when most students just tuck them under their sweaters. The girl has STYLE!

Nancy decided that she wanted to write another essay for you after seeing her post about her Christmas Holiday. This time she chose the topic herself, and she selected: hats. You can see an excerpt from the letter she wrote explaining this below.

I was so excited to know that everyone was going [on the] website to read my composition, and [I] am planning to write another one about “A Hat.” I hope it will be good more than the other on as I will try to write it with all good and sweet words that I know everyone who reads will be impressed with it. Am really trying to study hard and hard for the betterment of my future. I decided to write a composition concerning the heading above because I will be glad to be a real famous designer in the world as [I] am already a small one now.

Nancy with her big sister, Nicemary (also a TFFT scholarship student)

Nancy with Meghann and fellow TFFT scholarship student, Sarah

Below is Nancy’s composition on hats. We hope you enjoy it.

A Hat

Am wishing to become a designer and for this I would like to share a little knowledge to the referred heading. A hat is a covering that is worn on the head. It is made to fit the head with a flat edge that sticks out mainly worn outdoors. There are many different types of hats worn for different reasons like: panama, boater, trilby, cowboy hat, bowler/derby, top hat, sun hats, hood, hard hat, crash helmet, mortar board, beanie, bobble hat, beret, cap, cloth cap, baseball cap, among others.

Hard hats are worn to protect the head from bumps. Fire people, police, builders, astronauts, motorcycle riders, and many others wear hard hats for protection. They guarantee one’s safety while on a mission. Do you consider your safety when on a mission too? Sun hats are worn to protect the head from the direct heat of the sun’s rays. They come in all shapes, colours, and sizes from very large straw hats to small caps.

Rain hats are worn to keep the head dry during rainy seasons/days. They are weather proof/water proof and so the rain runs off the hat and keeps the head dry. This protects our head being the body’s controlling force without which its body cannot function well!

Some hats are worn to make the wearer look smart or elegant, many ladies wear this type of hat to weddings, parties, family functions, official functions, just to mention a few. They are large and flowery well designed for the occasion. One day while reading through a morning newspaper, my eyes gazed at an advertisement on hats, and this is how is read, “Surprise hats, when you buy one of these you may be in for a real surprise. You never know what will emerge of it; the hats transform into different things for different people. Try one and see what it transforms into for you!”.

I was amazed of the advertisement and using my meager savings went for it at once. To my surprise a note was attached to the hat which read, “ordinary hats offer short term protection and solutions to our problems, while the perfect hat and helmet of salvation through Jesus Christ offers assurance of protection and safety one hundred percent from dangers of all sorts with a promise of living to see tomorrow.”

If it were you, what would have been your reaction? Which is your hat of choice? Cogitate on the right choice today. Hope you enjoy this!!

Nancy Phelix

My First Flight

21 Mar

By Irene Peter, TFFT scholarship student

My name is Irene Peter. I am a Form 3 student at Usa River Academy and one of the scholars of The Foundation for Tomorrow. My best subjects are Physics, Chemistry, English, Geography and Mathematics. My ambition is to become an international pilot.

It was around 6:15am of 6th March, 2012 when Hedwiga came at school to pick me up. It was raining. She took me to the TFFT Office where we met Meghann who took me to Arusha Airport. There we met George Mavroudis who had just arrived. Meghann took some pictures of me at the airport. When George went to check on the plane I took my time looking at some stores selling cultural products around the place.

Thereafter, Meghann came and told me to check in.  I was surprised when during check in I was asked to remove everything made of metal that I was wearing and kept them in a place where I could get them after checking in. When I pass through the door the alarm sounded so I had to go back and remove my watch then it was ok.

After checking in, Meghann took some pictures of me as I was on the way to the plane. She also took pictures of me with George. Then George introduced me to the pilot. His name is Jack.

After introductions I boarded the plane. I was given the seat for the co-pilot! I was handed my earphones and once seated, Jack started to give me instructions. He told me to fasten my seatbelt and to get ready for the takeoff. The whole time Meghann was taking more pictures of me. Then it was time to say goodbye to her. We were about to take off! I was so excited but I was nervous as well.

Before the plane took off Jack switched on the radios and started the engine. Jack started communicating with the tower control and gave them some information about our departure. As a co-pilot, I was hearing all the conversation through my earphones.

When the plane started to lift off the ground, I had to concentrate on what Jack was doing to stop myself from feeling scared. When I looked through the window and saw that we were actually floating on air, a crazy thought came to mind: what if we fall down? I tried to shake it off and think positive thoughts instead and focus on this wonderful opportunity that I was given. Nothing bad will happen. My fear vanished.

While we were flying, Jack had conversations with many tower controls. But after that, he switched off and he started conversing with me. He pointed to me some of the instruments in the plane and explained their functions. I cannot remember the name of all the instruments but I assure you I remember their functions.

When we were about to land I noticed one of the instruments that Jack showed me which shows the distance of the plane from the ground, the number was decreasing fast then slowed down as the plane decreased the speed of sloping down.

Landing the aircraft was not as scary as taking off. After landing we waited for minutes for some passengers to board for. As we were waiting for the passengers I asked them about the function of a locker in the plane. What I understood from George’s and Jack’s explanation was that it is an air filter.

With all the passengers ready, we took off again and flew over Manyara National Park and Lake Manyara. This time around, I let myself enjoy the view and not concentrate much on what Jack was doing. This is my first time to see these places and what a first—to see them from the sky! I took everything in and it was if my heart would burst. I saw the clouds and rivers and lakes and tributaries and rocks!

This was a wonderful gift from George Mavroudis and I will thank God everyday for this opportunity. God willing, this is a memory I would happily narrate to my grandchildren. Thank you, George, for fulfilling part of my goals and dreams. And thank you TFFT for making it all happen for me. Thank you very much!

I am Vaileth, Future Accountant!

12 Mar

By Vaileth, TFFT Scholarship Student

I am Vaileth Pallangyo, 18 years old, from Nkoaranga village.  I received my primary school education at Nkoaranga and after passing the class 7 national exam I was selected to attend Nshupu Secondary School. I stayed at Nshupu until Form 2 then shifted to Usa River Academy with the help of The Foundation For Tomorrow. I started Form 1 again in 2008 and finished O level in 2011. Graduating from secondary school is one of the happiest moments of my life.

I spend my free time reading novels and poetry because my English teacher at URA once told me that if I want to improve my English speaking skills I need to be friends with books. I believed him and I want to think I am improving. Some of my favorite stories include “Three Suitors, One Husband,” “This Time Tomorrow,” “Song of Lawino,” “Pass Like a Shadow,” and “The Boy who Harnessed the Wind” which I read during the Christmas break last year with the rest of the TFFT secondary kids.

Aside from reading, I also love playing netball and chatting with friends. At home I also do domestic or household chores like cooking, washing clothes, chopping firewood, and cleaning the house.

Bookkeeping is my favorite subject in school. Some students dislike it but I find balancing books challenging. Trial balance, balance sheet, control account and joint venture account, three-column cashbook—these are just some of the terms I learned from my bookkeeping class. It is not easy but I think bookkeeping also develops one’s attention to details. And because bookkeeping is my favorite subject, would you be surprised if I say I hope to become an accountant someday? I would run my own company after gaining enough experience working in other companies. I believe this is possible. I can make this happen. My elders at TFFT always tell me I can do it.

The Foundation for Tomorrow supported me a lot not just in school but also in life skills. After finishing my O level, they gave me, Ombeni, and Isaac (the other two TFFT scholars who finished O level with me) the opportunity to study Computer. While doing this, we were also matched to partner organizations for our internship. My first internship was with Nkoaranga Orphanage. From my computer class, I proceed to the orphanage to help with the children. I played with them, assisted in feeding them as well as cleaning them up.

After finishing my Computer course, I was assigned to work as an intern at TFFT. At TFFT, I help with typing some documents, filing, and also working in the Full Circle Room at URA. I make sure that the room is tidy and neat. I decorated the room and arranged the books in our new bookshelf. I feel happy with the improvement in the room. Maybe this is what you call feeling of fulfillment? It looks more attractive now, a good place to learn. I am enjoying my internship at TFFT. The staff members are like my family, my elder brothers and sisters. We laugh a lot but also they make sure I do my work seriously. I also know that my internship is meant to teach me work skills and a way for them to keep me busy and avoid temptation to play around.  But I promised them I will be serious in my studies and stay focused on reaching my dream to be an accountant.

Thank you, Vaileth!! As always, leave your thoughts/words of encouragement for Vaileth below. We hope your week is off to a good start. We’ll be back later this week with the post on Meghann’s trip and the strategic planning sessions. Lots of good stuff coming your way!

In order for you to more fully understand her story, here is a brief overview of the Tanzanian school system. In Tanzania, after seven years of primary education (similar to elementary and middle school in the U.S.), the students proceed to secondary school, which is broken into four years of O Levels and then either A Levels, Certificate Level, or Vocational Training. After the first four years of secondary school (O Levels), the students take the O Level Exams. The exam scores  determine what the next step will be (A Levels, Certificate Level, or Vocational Training). Much of what Vaileth shares below explains what she did during the four-month break waiting for the O Level Exam results. Daniel Stephen, Program Coordinator for TFFT’s After School Tuition Program, interviewed Valieth for this post.

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!

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!”