April’s Shower of Training and The ABCs of TFFT’s Teachers Training

14 May

The training participants at SEGA with their certificates; also in the picture (aside from Melissa) is Fran Bruty, SEGA’s Participatory Learning Adviser.

By Melissa Queyquep

TFFT’s Teacher Training Program has been really busy this past month. We finished two training events in 2 partner schools, SEGA and Usa River Academy, training a total of 32 teachers. The training at Usa River Academy marks the revival of our training relationship with the school as we had to hold off last year because of the instability of the school management.

For both schools the training focused on classroom management, lesson planning, participatory teaching techniques, and communicating positively with students. Since joining TFFT, this month’s training has been the most challenging for me not just because I was sick half of the time during the month but because some of the topics were quite “controversial” for the teachers, i.e. lesson planning and managing student misbehavior. In one training, we had a session that was so challenging some teachers ended up defending their ways of dealing with student misbehaviors and questioning the ways of the West in disciplining their children. It drained my energy so much that after the session I had to hie off to the local bar with some friends to recharge and also to dissect the day’s events. Nothing beats Coca Cola (my drink of choice) in making one realize that glitches like this happen in learning events, and they happen for a good reason. After all, as in any social transformation efforts, resistance in different forms always comes with presentation of new ideas or proposing change. The positive takeaway from this experience? The training brought out in the open issues which the school need to address such as discipline policy, teachers’ code of conduct, and even lesson plan format! All’s well that ends well as they say, and so despite that very trying day, I managed to close the training on a positive note. The teachers felt the training was very useful and requested that I come more often.

Usa River Academy and Matonyok Primary School teachers after the training.

For fear of boring you with the mundane, I think I should segue to talking about some pieces of information about our Teachers Training Program. So here I’m giving you….. taa-daa!

The ABCs of the TFFT Teachers Training Program!

A is for assessment.

Our teacher training is needs based and so it is always preceded by training needs assessment. This process involves doing teacher observations, conferencing with the teachers, and a consultation with the school management. Data gathered through these means are triangulated and from the results the training needs of the teachers are prioritized and planned for.

B is for best performers.

We cap our every training event with the recognition of best performers or teachers who actively participated and contributed substantially to the discussions and activities. In any learning event, be it in a roomful of kids or a class of adult learners, nothing beats social recognition as a reward for positive behavior. From the best performers, we usually select teachers to groom as Training Champions for their schools. We provide these teachers additional training to be able to handle trainings such as developing a training plan, methodologies in handling adult learners, mentoring, and other topics that constitute a Training of Trainers.

C is for competition.

Nothing beats a friendly competition to spice up things in our training events. Who can come up with the best lesson plan? Who can come up with the longest list of teaching techniques? Groups scramble for points in every group work I give them—to the point that they even ask me to award points to the first group with complete members in the training room when we start in the morning! I maximize every opportunity to motivate our participants and competition ups the ante each time.

D is for Debates.

In the course of group discussions or during plenary, participants always end up debating. Part of the game especially when more than half of your participants are men, and did I tell you how much Tanzanian men (or Kenyan or Ugandan) love to talk in gatherings like this? A lot! The talk which starts with just sharing views or comments usually ends up with some of them engaging in a debate. I indulge them whenever time permits as we do get good points from these moments too but I have to use a lot of will to get them to stop and get on with the topic.

E is for Energizers.

In one of our trainings, the headmaster thought I was teaching his teachers songs and games to teach their students. He thought it was part of the training, one of the training topics. But energizers are indeed a part of our trainings! Good icebreakers always get trainings to a good start. Action songs and simple games keep the energy level of the teachers high in unholy hours such as after a filling lunch. I’ve regaled my teachers with a Congolese game (meaning of the words used unknown J) and a clapping and concentration game from Botswana. I usually pass on the responsibility of giving energizers to the teachers after the first day of training and boy, do I learn really good energizers from them! In a recent training, the French teacher got us all reciting in French: “Qui a mange le bonbon/Le bonbon de mon papa/Pas moi/Qui donc?” in a round that got our tongues twisted and our bellies aching from laughter.

F is for Food and Follow-up.

Guess which aspect of training we spend on the most? Training meals!!! Trainings are usually done during school break and since we don’t give out sitting allowances, one way to motivate teachers to attend is the promise of good food. I insist on giving our teachers the best food available in a budget that won’t break the bank. Short of asking for a pre-planned menu from the school canteen or from a caterer, I make sure they get meat with their mboga (vegetables) and rice or pilau or chapattis instead of the usual ugali. We usually spend around 5-7USD per participant per day (for 2 tea breaks and lunch)—by US standards I am sure that isn’t much, but our teachers really appreciate it.

Aside from food, F is also (more importantly) for follow-up. After a training event comes the following up or the monitoring. Whenever my crazy schedule permits, I visit the schools and observe classes to check if the training is impacting on the teachers’ teaching performance. One thing that I intend to accomplish this year even if it kills me is getting the school management to do regular follow-ups with their teachers and to share in the responsibility of monitoring and securing results from trainings done. Sadly this is not a practice among school heads here.

G is for Group work.

Cooperative learning is a main feature of our training events. Teachers discuss case studies together and basically work together on activities. This enhances camaraderie among the teachers. After working together for 3 (the shortest length of training we’ve done) to 5 days, the participants usually end up better friends from when they started the training.

H is for Handle setbacks gracefully.

Where would a trainer be without flexibility, sense of humor, and patience in this field and in a country where nothing is ever sure? From the simplest like power going off in the process of doing a Powerpoint presentation to the worst such as finding out 20 of the 25 teachers you’ve trained have upped and left the school or school heads finger-pointing on who should do teacher observations—the ability to handle setbacks gracefully is a boon. My perspectives have widened immensely from my 2 years of doing training with TFFT and I have those setbacks to thank for!

I is for Interaction.

The beauty of these learning events for our teachers is the opportunity to interact with their fellow teachers in a non-work setting. They also get to interact with teachers from other partner schools like the time we did the Usa River Academy-Star High School inter-school training for Science teachers. The trainings also afford them time to learn from their counterpart/s from the International School or specialists from other education-focused NGOs whom we get to facilitate some sessions.

J is for Jump for joy when a training is done.

The sweetest part of the training is the awarding of certificates that marks the end of a training event—another batch of teachers trained, another chance taken to improve the quality of education our children receive. I may not have the jump shots to show for it but deep inside, I am jumping for joy, doing somersaults even. The work is done, time to kick my shoes and relax (before I start working on the training reports) and relieve myself of the stress that comes with planning and conducting a training.

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Thanks, Melissa for this breakdown of the training procedure. For anyone who has any questions or thoughts regarding TFFT’s Teacher Training program, ask Melissa below! We have another rider to introduce you to this week. The Annual Fund is still going strong.. we have raised $15,625 so far of our $50,000 matching goal. Will you help us get there?

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Meet RIDETZ Rider Ben Bourne

9 May

By Kaitlin Rogers and Ben Bourne, RIDETZ Rider

On this wonderful Wednesday, you get to meet another wonderful rider. Through Meghann, I have been lucky to get to know Ben well over the past year and a half. He is the kind of person who makes just any experience better. He is a blast to be around and making sure everyone is having a good time is always his top priority. He also has one of the biggest hearts of anyone I know. His generosity never ceases to amaze me. We are so fortunate that Ben is joining us for the 2012 RIDETZ experience. Enjoy his thoughtful responses and make sure you read all the way through… there is a surprise at the end that will blow you away!

1)            Where are you from?

I was originally born in Florida, but our family moved to Charlotte when I was three years old, so the times growing up in Charlotte and seeing the city transform so dramatically over the years has been a wonderful thing to experience. Although I travel quite a bit and have lived in many other places in my years, it will always be a special feeling to come back “home”.

2)            What do you do for work?

I have been an entrepreneur at heart ever since I can remember.  Around 2000, I moved back to South Florida to start a real estate firm at the age of 22 that designed, built, and redeveloped townhomes, condos, and estate homes throughout Fort Lauderdale, Miami, and Palm Beach. I have invested  in specialty pharmaceutical, medical device, biotechnology and service segments of the healthcare arena for over 12 years. I also have several holding companies that have interests in everything from large private equity funds throughout the US and Europe to nightclubs to a full line of award winning Sake and liquors, TY KU.

To put it simply, I really enjoy starting or buying/investing in businesses with family and close friends and helping them reach their full potential. I love seeing them become what we all had dreamed they could be. Working in such a diverse arena enables me to meet people of all walks of life from around the world, many who have become dear, dear friends.

3)            What do you like to do on your spare time?

I love to travel. Growing up, I was fortunate enough to experience mission trips to Guatemala City, Guatemala and Madras, India. Having the opportunity to help the orphaned and hurting children of Mexico and Brazil brought me to my knees. I had never seen the pain that existed throughout the world, and to see it at such a young age helped mold me and pushes me to become more involved and to appreciate the multitude of blessings we are afforded here in the US.

I also enjoy tennis, skiing, golf (although my game has a mind of its own some days), deep sea fishing for some underwater beasts (Marlin/Sailfish ideally) and sweating it out in the gym when I can forget the worries of the day and just push myself as hard as possible.

I am happiest when I can wake to the sound of crashing waves and the smell of the ocean. The Italian coast, the Greek Isles, St. Barts, seem to me as close to heaven as there is.

4)            Who is your inspiration in life?

There are several people who have helped shape me as a person. My parents were separated when I was still at a young age and I chose to live with my father. He helped me through many ups and downs as the years went on, and showed me the value of how blessed I was, the countless opportunities I was given.  He taught me the humble satisfaction to never forget those without the same opportunities and to help give them the ability and chance to succeed against what sometimes may seem to be unconquerable odds. My mother is also a dear person in my life with a kind and caring heart.

Me with my dad

My older brother is one of the most passionate and loving brothers one could ask for, as has one of the best business minds I know. He has always lifted me up when I’ve been down, always been someone I could battle the world against. He has always had my back no matter what. He has a wonderful wife and two gorgeous and loving children. I can’t tell you how nice it is to have them in my life.

Me with my niece and nephew, Fairbanks and Mary Pope

5)            How did you hear about RIDETZ?

My family has known Meghann Gunderman, The Foundation For Tomorrow’s Founder, for many years. When she first approached us with her idea of starting a new foundation, we fell in love with her undying passion for helping build a system in Tanzania to help empower these beautiful kids. We decided as a family to help her build the program, if even in the littlest ways.

This past February, after many years of wanting to see her work firsthand, I embarked on what turned out to be the most special trip of my lifetime. There are no words to describe the joy I felt as I first embraced the children I had heard so much about over the years. It was amazing to be surrounded by their unconditional love and the most stunning and beautiful smiles I have ever seen. It was a special thing to meet children we have sponsored over the years for the first time and to see how much TFFT has done to further them in life and reaching their goals.

Finally meeting Dickson after years of sponsorship

6)            What inspired you to want to ride this June?

Kaitlin Rogers, who traveled with Meghann to photograph the first RIDETZ two years ago, published a book entitled 400 miles. I simply could not put it down. Picture after picture, image after breathtaking image. It was something I had to do. My friends who took part in 2010 said it was hands down the experience of a lifetime. I knew I had to do it. I wanted to experience the challenge both mentally and physically and to see this beautiful country while pushing my body to its limits.

7)            Are you celebrating any milestone with RIDETZ?

Although I rode a bit when I was younger, I have just recently fell in love with biking again. I love to be active, but have never been much of a runner. The challenge itself, the training it requires, knowing the kids who will benefit from the awareness of our journey from Mt. Kilimanjaro to the Indian Ocean are all my motivation. When I dive into those clear waters after ten grueling days I hope it will be one of the most satisfying moments of my life.

8)            What is your favorite place to ride? (besides Tanzania that is)

I lived in Miami for several years. Waking up on any given day, riding down miles and miles of sandy beaches, sun beating down on me, seeing the multitude of cultures thriving, and the history of the city itself was such a special thing. Pulling up to a spot on the water after a morning ride, not saying a word, just staring at the ocean feeling the burn–what an unbelievable moment.

9)            What kind of bike do you train on? Does it have a name?

I currently have a Pinnarello road bike. Living in downtown Charlotte, I love hopping on the elevator and just getting on it and going. She is referred to as the “beast motivator.” Long story for another time.

I am also training at a spin place here in town that I have fallen in love with… great instructors, good music, really gets the blood flowing. TFFT held a fundraiser there a few weeks ago which was my first time, but I’ve been back many times since. It’s nice to feel my body building strength and endurance each and every time.

In addition I weight train 4-5 times a week at Just Fit training studios with a close friend who started it a few years back. It seems to be a good balance of cardio and strength training to prepare me for our journey this summer.

10)          What unique ways are you planning on spreading awareness and fundraising?

Being as I am not as die hard rider as some of my friends, I have promised countless pictures and videos to those who will help support my ride. I have setup a page on crowdrise, reached out to friends and family, and I will be offering an all-expense paid trip to Tanzania to see firsthand the unbelievable things TFFT is doing on the ground to the person who helps raise the most money towards my cause.

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YES, you read that correctly… an ALL-EXPENSE PAID trip to TANZANIA for the person who helps Ben raise the most money. To enter, you can create your own page through Ben’s Tanzania Challenge Page and reaching out to your network for support (once you’re on the page, just click JOIN THE TEAM) OR you can make a single donation on his fundraising page. The person who generates the most funds (either through a single personal donation OR through the combined total of donations collected from friends and family for the challenge) will be the lucky winner of an all-expense paid trip to Tanzania to see TFFT’s work. For more details, email Kaitlin@TheFoundationForTomorrow.org. Told you it would be a WONDERFUL Wednesday :)


Erasto Introduces Himself as Scholarship Director

8 May

By Erasto Kyando

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

My name is Erasto Felix Kyando, Kinga by tribe, born in July 27, 1986 the second born in a family of three children. I was born in Tanga, the northeastern part of Tanzania and later in 1999 my parents shifted to Mbeya, the southern highland part of Tanzania where they currently live. During my spare time I enjoy reading books and watching movies. My hobbies are traveling, teaching, landscaping and designing gardens because I am a lover of beauty and nature. Furthermore I enjoy photography so much.

How did you first learn about TFFT?

I first learned about TFFT through the vacancy ad on the Arusha Times Newspaper and later further on the TFFT’s website.

What about TFFT’s mission inspires you?

I was very much inspired by TFFT’s mission and the fact that TFFT deals with the less privileged kids, especially orphans. I am very much aware of the challenges these kids face and how their future is at risk. Furthermore, I believe that most of these kids are talented but lacking someone who can inspire them and help them to explore what they have and use them for the good of the entire society.

What attracted you to the position as Scholarship Director?
  • I am passionate about working with children and youth
  • I believe working for the organization would help me grow in this vocation of working with marginalized children
  • I want to share the experiences and skills I have with the kids and youth and contribute to TFFT’s mission
  • It has always been my dream to work directly with the society and have a direct impact on it

Going to the TFFT office for my interview and meeting the staff and the time I was afforded by Fratern during the process to meet the kids in school also deepened my desire to be a part of the group. I am happy to be given the chance to work with TFFT.

What previous life experiences do you believe have prepared you for your role as Scholarship Director?

In primary school I was the Head Prefect, after finishing my secondary education I joined the Tanzania Youth Ministries, a Tanzanian-based Christian organization which strive to “change the lives of the youth so that they in turn change the world.” During all the time I have been involved in this organization I served in different leadership positions including Hai District Chairperson, Kilimanjaro Region Vice Chairperson, Mvomero District Secretary, and “Outreach Program Coordinator” for three years in which I was involved in preaching and teaching the Word, organizing various outreach missions, conducting various fundraising activities as well as coaching and mentoring youths and young professionals within and outside the University.

In the University Students Body, I also served as Deputy Minister for Affiliation and Internal Affairs, responsible for general maintenance of peace and harmony within the University. After graduation from college I worked as a Secondary School Teacher and among my duties were:

  • Teaching and facilitating students in the class.
  • Maintaining and monitoring student’s social, psychological and cognitive development
  • Guiding and Counseling students on different educational and non educational matters
  • Coordinating, inspiring and motivating students to discover and use their talents and potentialities.
  • An overseer of the  daily activities taking place in the class.

Therefore,the above information are part of my experiences which will be very applicable in my position as a Scholarship Program Director.

What are your goals for the year?

  • To identify the kids who struggle with their studies and develop a collective strategy together with partner school teachers for helping them
  • Timely visitation and maintenance of close communication with foster families and partner orphanages in order to identify kids’ social and emotional needs during the period they stay at these places
  • Monitor children’s health by checking in with the schools nurses, responding to their health needs immediately and take them to the hospital whenever they require doctor’s attention
  • Developing a model to identify and promote TFFT scholarship children’s talents and potentials by involving them in different activities that will expose their talents
  • Monitoring and adhering to a detailed budget for the supply of the children’s needs and items in a cost effective way
  • Maintaining a sound relationship with partner schools by handling any TFFT-partner school matters with great care and consideration
  • Conducting research to discover new private boarding schools for future partnership with TFFT

What life skills will you prioritize for cultivating our students?

  • Public speaking skills
  • Leadership skills by encouraging those who have leadership abilities to contest for student government posts
  • Self-reliance skills by holding them accountable for their personal properties, other students’ and public properties
  • Instilling a sense of self-confidence, healthy self image as well as self-discipline such as time management skills

Is there anything else you would like to share?

I believe in positivity and possibility and so whenever a conducive environment and positive inspiration are provided for somebody to learn, one can grow to no limit and do wonders. Therefore I would really appreciate your cooperation in working as a team so that together we can create this conducive environment for these kids to grow. I am looking forward to be the best I can and learn much from the TFFT team. Asante sana.

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Thank you, Erasto!! We are confident in your ability to positively shape and guide our scholarship kids to help them each believe in themselves and life’s endless possibilities.

Annual Fund Update: We have almost raised $13,000 for the Annual Fund… $3,250 so far this week! We need to raise another $37,000 to reach our matching challenge of $50,000. You can make your 2012 contribution here.

Erasto Kyando, TFFT’s New Scholarship Director

7 May

Erasto Kyando

 

Today we introduce you to another new addition to the TFFT Team. A few months ago we had to say goodbye to Josh Nassari as Scholarship Director. Josh left to pursue his dream of a career in politics, and we watched with pride as he won his first election last month. Since Josh left, we have been in search of someone to fill his shoes. Of course filling the position was top priority, but our standards are quite high, and we were waiting for a perfect fit. In the interim Fratern, Melissa, Hedwiga, and Daniel each took on extra work and stayed busy around the clock to make sure TFFT didn’t skip a beat in the absence of a Scholarship Director.

It is the Scholarship Director who oversees all of the children, charts the kids’ progress, and intervenes wherever there is a concern. Think it’s hard to keep track of your kids’ shoe sizes? Our Scholarship Director has 82 kids to keep straight–that’s 164 feet and 820 toes to protect!! Imagine having 82 report cards to review and teacher conferences to attend! The Scholarship Director is also the liaison between the sponsors and their scholarship students. Delivering notes and packages to the students and mailing out progress reports and letters from the students to the sponsors is also a time consuming part of the job.

Needless to say, the job is not an easy one, and finding the right person resembles looking for a needle in a haystack, but our patience paid off. We found just the person for the role, and Erasto Kyando is shining as the new Scholarship Director. On April 29th all the kids went back to school after their month long break between terms. At the time, Erasto had not even officially begun the job, yet he enthusiastically showed up to help the team transport the kids back to school. Coordinating foster home pickups for 82 children is no simple task, and Erasto rose to the occasion without hesitation. We are so lucky to have him. He fits right in with the team; our kids love him already; Meghann and I are eager to join the rest of the Team in Tanzania in June.

 

Erasto with a group of TFFT scholars

 

Tomorrow you will hear from Erasto himself!

Meet RIDETZ Rider, Kaitlin Rogers

3 May

By Kaitlin Rogers

Today I get to introduce myself as one of the RIDETZ riders. Over the past two years I have had the joy of getting to know The Foundation For Tomorrow, and I have RIDETZ to thank for that. It is amazing to think that if it weren’t for that 400 mile bike ride in 2010 I may not even know about this organization that has since become my whole world. I don’t even want to think about that :) You can see my responses to the interview questions below.

Me with my sisters, Caroline (right) and Maggie (left)

Me with some of my cousins in Door County, Wisconsin

 

1) Where are you from?

I am from Lake Bluff, a northern suburb of Chicago that I lovingly refer to as my favorite place in the world. I do believe that this tiny town where I grew up surrounded by family is an extremely special place.

The center of town

 

2) What do you do for work?

I work for The Foundation For Tomorrow. A few weeks into my new job, I shared with my family that I couldn’t fall asleep at night because I was so excited to wake up in the morning to get to work. Perturbed, my youngest sister Maggie rolled her eyes and declared that that was just not normal. I may be annoyingly excited about my job, but I cannot imagine waking up in the morning with a more meaningful sense of purpose.

 

3) What do you like to do on your spare time?

I love being with my family and friends. I also love photography, and I still do some freelance work (I left my job at a photography studio to work for TFFT). Yoga keeps me sane, and I can get lost in a stationary store for hours.

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Friends

Friends

 

4) Who is your inspiration in life?

I was lucky to grow up with many wonderful role models and mentors. My parents’ unconditional love and support has instilled in me a sense of confidence and the ambition to follow my heart. I’m not sure that one person has been my inspiration, but I know that I am inspired every time I see someone working for something they believe in.

The way my sister Maggie dances inspires me. The way my sister Caroline is working so hard to become a physical therapist inspires me. My friends who wake up every day and teach a classroom full of students through Teach For America inspire me. The way nothing gets in between Marc and some time on the ice to play hockey inspires me. Getting to work beside Meghann every day inspires me. I believe in surrounding myself with people who work hard for their goals. I think that is the best source of inspiration.

Maggie’s dancing feet

 

5) How did you hear about RIDETZ?

My senior year of college I was working for Tamara Lackey Photography. I had spent two previous summers working in Tanzania through a Duke Engage program called Literacy Through Photography. I was planning to return for a third summer when Meghann contacted Tamara in search of a photographer for RIDETZ 2010. I was already planning to be in Tanzania during the ride, and accepting this unique photography opportunity was a no-brainer.

RIDETZ 2010

RIDETZ 2010, Me, Miller Bianucci, Meghann, and Macon Bianucci

 

6) What inspired you to want to ride this June?

While I was along for the first RIDETZ experience, I never actually got on a bike! I traveled by safari car as I documented the riders’ experience with my camera. I did feel kind of guilty, though, as I jumped around fresh faced and sat relaxed in the van while the riders expended every bit of energy they had and then some. It was the riders’ perseverance that inspired my desire to tackle RIDETZ. Watching them conquer this amazing challenge made me desperately want the same sense of achievement. My boyfriend Marc agreed to join me for the adventure, and that sealed the deal.

Always jumping

Me and Marc

 

7) Are you celebrating any milestone with RIDETZ?

I’m not celebrating any milestone, but I’m celebrating an incredible cause, a beautiful country, and the fact that I’m able to take on this endeavor.

8) What is your favorite place to ride? (besides Tanzania that is)

Hmm… spin class or anyplace with a bike path… all this street riding in Charlotte gets me nervous. Navigating the Tanzanian terrain should be—err—interesting. Let’s just say that I’m in this for the cause and the experience, biking is not exactly my forte.

9) What kind of bike do you train on? Does it have a name?

So far my white Diamondback has done the trick.

10) What unique ways are you planning on spreading the awareness for what you are doing and fundraising?

I am planning to use my photography as a fundraising tool. I’m going to offer some donation sessions in Charlotte in addition to reaching out to family and friends for support. To support my fundraising efforts, please visit my fundraising page.

In Loving Memory of Lou Lou

30 Apr

Me, Lou, Emily Cottingham and Cheri Sims, Kili 1/2 Marathon Feb. 2010

By Meghann Gunderman, TFFT’s Founder and Executive Director

Lou Corse was someone very dear to The Foundation For Tomorrow. I remember meeting Lou four years ago. She lived in Tanzania and had reached out to one of our team members, Alley Brindza, to host a holiday party where her guests would donate books, clothes, and toys for our children. From that initial introduction, Lou went on to donate her time, talents, and treasure to TFFT. She lost her fight against breast cancer last April, a battle she fought hard for years.

Last week marked a year since her passing, and I was reminiscing. I wanted to pay tribute to this special woman and all that she gave TFFT by sharing her story on this blog, but it is difficult to put into words all that she gave to our organization. I decided to start reading through some of Lou’s old, encouraging emails. (For those of you who don’t know me, I keep ALL of my emails.) Her many “darlings” and the way she always ended her emails with “xx” “love, much love, lots of love” brought smiles and tears to my face. She was always warm and welcoming; she spent hours sitting under the big Usa River Academy tree reading to our children; she opened her home to create a sports day for our kids; she even lent her gardeners to help with our after-school Full Circle program to teach our kids about grafting avocados and healthy living. Lou would be there to help us with graphic design, accounting, or to lend us her car to shuttle our children back and forth to school at school break.

July 2010, Lou with Joyce, handing out paperwork to take home for school holiday

Most of all she was a motivator, an inspiration herself. I could sit on her veranda and just unload as she gave me insightful advice and a cup of tea. We would sit around her dinner table and game plan on how to strengthen our work or get more creative. Lou Corse was fully committed to leaving the world a better place than when she came to it. She gave her ear and her heart not only to our kids, but to our entire team, becoming close to many of them. She was so optimistic, and loved children and life.

She talked at length about how our kids put her life in perspective. “Every single day when I see the innocence and purity of those poor kids who can laugh and play and learn despite everything that has happened to them, it puts the pettiness of my life back into perspective.”  “[I am] so delighted to be involved and so aware that every single day something joyous happens with those children, despite the hardship they have suffered and lack of familial love. We were clapping and singing out a beat whilst they were jiving.  It was hysterical and made my day, week, and year.”

Last week, in Lou’s honor, her family launched a colorful and vibrant children’s book, MOLLY, written by Lou. She wrote the book in honor of her niece who died in a tragic accident nearly three years ago. Lou was very close to her niece Molly, and she wrote this book as an expression of her love for Molly. Sadly Lou passed before the book went to print but she would have been so proud to know that it has now been published. The Foundation For Tomorrow is excited to purchase copies for our children to read for years to come.

Fratern with John Corse, Lou's husband

Lou’s legacy is strong, and Lou Lou, as our children called her, lives on under that tree and in the hearts of our 80+ students. Long after they graduate we want her legacy to continue, and this book will do a fantastic job of that.

TFFT is in the process of fundraising to build an Interactive Learning Center in Tanzania, encompassing our after-school initiatives as well as a library and computer center, Teachers Training, and Higher-Education counseling. In addition to serving our scholarship students and partners, making the facility available to the public, free of charge, will increase the reach to include a much larger population. Once complete, there will be reading room inside this center marking Lou’s love of reading and our children.

I know I speak for many when I say I feel blessed to have had the support and friendship of Lou over the years. Her desire to love care for our children will never be forgotten. Her generous nature and willingness to give so much of herself to The Foundation For Tomorrow will never be matched.

To purchase your copy of Molly, please visit this site.

Asante sana, Lou Lou!

Meet RIDETZ Rider Marc Perez

26 Apr

By Kaitlin Rogers and Marc Perez

Today’s rider gets a special introduction because I get to write the intros and Marc is my boyfriend. After listening to me talk ad nauseam for years about Tanzania and the kids and TFFT and RIDETZ, this June Marc will see with his own eyes what all the fuss is about. I could not be more excited to share this experience with him, but I’ll save that for when it’s my turn for the interview!

He’ll be mortified by the model shot below, but whatever. I’m a photographer, and I think he’s nice to look at :)

1) Where are you from? 

I was born in Pittsburgh, PA but have been on the move since then, having lived in Brussels, Belgium twice, the UK, Miami, and Durham and Chapel Hill, NC. Starting this summer though, I’m excited to call Charlotte my new home.

2) What do you do for work?

Most of my work in centered in pharmaceutical distribution, bringing products from Latin America to the US and vice versa.

3) What do you like to do on your spare time? 

I’m an avid sports fan, and I’ve an always loved hockey and played growing up and through college. Now, I try to stay on the ice 2-3 times a week in adult hockey leagues. I’m also big golfer and very quickly becoming a cycling enthusiast. I’ll also take any chance I can get to travel to new places.

 

4) Who is your inspiration in life?

My parents have always been my example in life.

Me with my parents and sister, Sara

5) How did you hear about RIDETZ?

Two years ago, I saw my girlfriend Kaitlin’s incredible photography in 400 Miles, a book that captured the 2010 RIDETZ.

6) What inspired you to want to ride this June?

Two of my favorite activities are travel and athletic competition. When I heard about RIDETZ, I was hooked by the opportunity to combine global travel and an athletic challenge.

There’s much more to my decision to participate RIDETZ though. Over the past two years, I’ve been fortunate to see the work of The Foundation for Tomorrow stateside and I can’t wait to see the operation on the ground. My introduction into the organization has been my incredible girlfriend, Kaitlin. Tanzania and TFFT have had an enormous impact on her and for the past couple of years, she has raved about what an inspiring and transformational experience she had on the first ride. RIDETZ seemed like an amazing thing to do together, and I cannot wait to get to share this experience with her.

Me and Kaitlin

TFFT's Annual SOS Gala, November 2011

7) Are you celebrating any milestone with RIDETZ?

Nope… only my first trip to Tanzania.

8) What is your favorite place to ride? (besides Tanzania that is)

I’m pretty new to the cycling world, so I ride wherever I can. Right now, I am mostly cruising around the streets of Charlotte and other places around North Carolina.

9) What kind of bike do you train on? Does it have a name?

I rock a Diamondback.

10) What unique ways are you planning to fundraise?

I’m having a couple of bar nights with friends to raise money and going to friends and family for support.

My college roommates

To support Marc in this effort, go here. We’ll be back with a new post on Monday!