Tag Archives: education

Busy Busy

30 May

By Kaitlin Rogers

Life in the States has been even busier than usual as we prepare for RIDETZ, run the Annual Fund, and work on a surprise that we will finally share with you in the next few days! Meghann is en route to Tanzania now, and I leave on Monday. The RIDETZ excitement and influx of photos is about to begin. In the meantime below are some glimpses into our days:

From left to right: Gretchen and Mike’s boys sport their homemade RIDETZ shirts at their fundraising event; accumulating RIDETZ goodies from our sponsors; spending lots to time in FLYWHEEL classes in preparation for RIDETZ; the raffle table at Gretchen and Mike’s fundraiser; Meghann found time to ride a bike during her layover in London (true dedication!); Gretchen, Mike, and I went for a long ride; presents for the kiddos; one of our amazing sponsors; boxes of schwag for the riders; a very full cart of clothes for the kids; an incredible view of Mt. Kilimanjaro from Meghann’s airplane window on her way to Tanzania this morning; Meghann’s layover in Nairobi.

Hope you’re having a good week after the long weekend!


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!!

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.


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?

Hope Holders

29 Mar

By: Kaitlin Rogers

One of the speakers at yesterday’s symposium referred to nonprofit organizations as “hope holders.” This term struck me.

Hope. What an immensely powerful thing to hold.

That glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. That tiny bud of life after a long, cold winter. That feeling in the back of your throat where the air catches for an extra second as you think, “Maybe. Maybe it is possible.”

When the presenter declared that nonprofit organizations are hope holders, he meant that in a world ridden with too much hatred and crime and injustice, charities represent a promise for a better tomorrow. In other words, these organizations hold hope for the future.

And I agree, to an extent. The work of well-structured nonprofits does provide great hope.


Where do we find the greatest hope?

The children, of course! We find tremendous hope in Joyce’s heart, Athumani’s smile, Richard’s wisdom, and Sophia’s eyes. Yes, children are the ultimate holders of hope. Children are the future.

Children hold the key. The world, however, is the lock, and why should some children enter the world holding a golden key, perfectly fitted for the lock, while others possess one that never seems to fit? This is where TFFT comes in. Together, we have the power to help fit the key so the children can open the door.

Hope lives somewhere else too, though. YOU give us so much hope.

TFFT receives hope every day from the amazing people who align themselves with our mission and who work with us to make it possible.

Receiving an email from a sweet high school sophomore who wants the guests of her sweet sixteen birthday party to make donations to TFFT in lieu of presents gives us hope. Sitting around a table eating lunch and discussing TFFT with a group of inspiring, interested, and motivated women gives us hope. Having meetings over the internet with super talented individuals eager to donate their time gives us hope. Even watching blog stats climb as people use precious minutes from their day to read what we have to say gives us hope!

We each have the power to be a holder of hope, and, thankfully, hope is contagious. Together, and with great hope, we can do this.

Hope you have a great weekend! We’ll be back next week with RIDETZ tidbits and other updates!

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!