Thursday, December 3, 2009

Superstars

This is very, very belated, but I want to share with everyone the awesomeness of Myers Park High School, Amy Hammond, Ashton Ratcliffe, and Drew Hammond (as well as chaperone extraordinaire Julie Hammond).

At the end of June, Julie brought her daughter Amy, her son Drew, and friend Ashton to Tanzania to volunteer at our partner orphanage, Matonyak, whom you have read about in previous blogs. These young girls were inspired by TFFT and the children in our programs and decided to take action. They got their peers at Myers Park involved in fundraising for TFFT, more specifically sponsoring Richard Francis, one of our scholarship recipients (who just graduated Class 7). Then, when the girls decided they were coming to Tanzania, they began fundraising for Matonyak where they would be volunteering for several weeks over the summer. These young ladies were creative; designing and selling t-shirts, and collecting money in any way possible way. They ended up heading to Tanzania with a couple thousand dollars raised by their high school!

Once here- they got right to business, figuring out the dala dala system (the local transportation which carries people, chickens, goats, veggies and anything else they can fit in the tiny little mini van), and walking for ages out to Maasai land. They spent their days teaching the children at Matonyak and creating fun projects for the kids (they made books about themselves, and took pictures and decorated them, to name a few). After lunch, instead of resting they worked with Emmy and Ndemno to figure out what more they could do to help. With the money raised they were able to provide a new playground for the kids, desks and chairs for the classrooms, some bicycles, chickens and TWO cows! They spent their afternoons in the Maasai markets, wood shops, walking through the villages with the cows or bargaining for cheaper prices. The cows were built a nice home and were named Ashton and Amy, appropriately.


It was a wonderful few weeks for the children at Matonyak, TFFT, and me personally. It was even more wonderful to see more young people working to create a better future for others, and receiving support from their parents, teachers and peers. Thank you Julie, Amy, Ashton and Drew for your hard work, dedication, and support! Karibu Tanzania any time!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Long Time No Blog

Well, unfortunately this is not the first, and probably not the last apology I will be writing, but it is sincere. I am sorry for the lack of blog posts recently. Life in Tanzania has definitely been changing and busy lately!

A quick re-cap of the past few months- the kids went on break in August which gave us some much needed time to re-organize as well as visit many of the kids in their respective villages. It was great to meet some new relatives and see the children in such a different environment! They went back to school at the end of the month, and have been busy studying, playing, losing teeth, learning and growing since then. Our Class 7 kids; Nancy, Richard Francis, Simon, Dicklucky, Happiness, Irene, and Richard Augustine all graduated and started a new Pre-Form 1 program we started with Usa River Academy and a tutor in Lushoto (for Simon and Richard F.). The Form 2 kids took their National Exams and have gone home early after a grueling few weeks of studying and preparation. We've had Visiting Day with Christmas Carols, and countless Doctor's Appointments for new glasses (Violethi), pulled teeth (Mathayo) and all sorts of interesting "issues". However, everyone is healthy and happy and excited for break on December 5th!

In the office, we've had a lot going on as well. We said goodbye to Alley Brindza, our amazing Scholarship Program Director (and my wonderful roommate), and hello to Fratern Tarimo, our new Managing Director. Fratern has jumped into his role running and has been an awesome addition to the TFFT team. Plus, he loves pizza (like Alley) so we get along well! We saw our two tutors Franco and Amani head off to University, which was exciting and brought on two new tutors, Lobulo and Daniel who the kids love. We have also been experiencing new power "rations" which boils down to no power every day either during the day or evenings and so...(hold applause) we got a generator! Life in the office has changed dramatically (as evident by this blog) since our new purchase last week. It's been great to continue working in office even when we don't have power and great to have some light in the evenings when I'm stumbling around the house.

Otherwise, we're settling into a nice rainy season with daily showers or downpours depending and much greener surroundings. The Jacaranda's are slowly dwindling, but still in bloom and the speed bumps out to school are being filled in- shaving at least 10 minutes off our trip each day! So life is good over here in Tanzania.

I'm going to see if I can't get a few belated blogs up as well. I'm back in the game!!


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Barber Blues..

So- just a funny little post quickly...

Every couple of weeks it seems the kids get this rather nasty head fungus. Not sure if it's ring worm, or a random fungus but it's pretty gross either way. The remedy for this is a quick trip to the Doctor for some medicated cream and a full buzz cut at the barber.

Last week was no exception with Rosie being the first to approach me with said fungus. She informed me that her head "was paining" and she needs a shave (which she acted out for me). I told her we would go the next day and to be ready when I got to school. Well, the next day, Mathayo, Athumaini and Apaifura all informed me that they too were sick on their heads. SO- we piled in the car, swung past the Usa River Medical Clinic for some medicine and then hit up the Barber.

Everyone was excited and the Barber is a really nice guy who enjoys the kids. However, Rosie, the ring leader ended up hating the whole shaving process and was not too happy by the end. I even tried to cheer her up with biltong, which surprisingly didn't work. The others enjoyed it though! Guess you can't win them all. Anyways, we decided to have a photo shoot while waiting for everyone and I had to share the pics with everyone because they're hysterical. Hope these give you a good mid-week laugh.

Old Man Mathayo...

Mini T...

A happy Athumaini

A not so happy Rosie..

Monday, July 6, 2009

Half Way Again!

Well I can’t believe we are already half way through another term, and visiting day has come and gone. Alley and I have definitely been busy the past few months and it seemed that before we knew it the Big Day had snuck up on us! The kids were all a buzz about Saturday, asking us constantly if we would be coming. Of course!

Learning from experience, we decided to bring food for the kids instead of paying the ridiculous prices the school vendors were charging for chicken and chipsies. So, we made a run to the grocery and spent the Friday before cooking 70+ pieces of chicken for all the kids. We also convinced Mama Baby, who runs the rice and beans joint in our neighborhood to cook up some chapati for us. The morning of Visiting Day, Alley and I rolled out of our house with 70+ chicken pieces, chapatis, lollies, and juices. We arrived two hours past the starting time, and yet Lou, Alley and I found ourselves still nearly 2 hours early. Gotta love the pace of Africa.

The boys enjoying the chicken

The day proved to be a success! All the primary classes performed for us and many of the older kids were involved in skits, singing with the choir or dance troops. We even saw a performance of Enrique Inglesias by two twins in Form 5, and yes there were young girls screaming. It was amazing really.


The babies performing!

We also had a great turn out of visitors! Amani and Franco, our new tuition tutors showed up with lollies, which were a big hit! Sister Enna and some folks drove 6 hours from Lushoto to visit with Richard, Isack, Simon and Zacharia. Mama Mike came with Mama Neema and Mama Simone and her daughter Cathy came. Mama Pendo from Nkoroanga Orphanage and Mr. Pallangyo and Mr. Kaia from Good Hope came by. Maggie who cares for Lomanyaki and Namayani rushed to school after work to hang with the babies. Glady and Esther’s Dad and Step-mom, and several other relatives of the kids came to play as well. It was great and everyone was thrilled to have some company outside of Alley, Lou and myself!


Amani and his friends!
All in all I think it was another great day!


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Thank You Edith & Margaret!

After succesfully summiting on Kilimanjaro, Edith and Margaret Wyatt - TFFT sponsors - spent some time at Matanyok on their recent trip to Tanzania. They hoped to bring some artistic inspiration to Matanyok and the children there.. with a mural! Margaret hopes to study art in the future and put together a plan. After careful selection of the local hardware store's paint, they were ready to go! With the children's help, they created the masterpiece you see below...

Some of the children showing off their artistic talents!



Completed Mural by Wyatts & Matanyok Children

The mural was completed in record time, allowing for Edith and Margaret to organize some other art projects for the children - painting, coloring, and collage making! Emmy, Ndemno, and all of the children at Matanyok had a great time with the Wyatt's and their art projects... what an awesome way to have the children create something that will last forever!



Monday, June 8, 2009

Alley Brindza's 1 Year Anniversary











For those who are not aware today is Alley's (one of our fabulous Program Directors in Tanzania) 1 year anniversary of being on the ground in Tanzania working with our kids. For those of you who are parents you'll be able to commiserate a bit with alley. Working with kids is not always the easiest job. They are not always the first to say thank you or you've done an amazing job or I couldn't bear to loose you, but always the first to need something, hang their skinny little bodies on your legs or in Tanzania to say "na mimi, na mimi.." "and me..and me". Alley's role is a large one, technically speaking she's the "Relationship Manager" with our schools and orphanages but in reality that means dealing with ALL needs of our 66 scholarship kids, whether it's being in doctors offices days at a time with one child that has malaria, one with an ear infection, one with a cold.. It requires often driving 45 minutes to school from our office at 7am and 7 pm to make sure Rach gets her ARV drugs on time and in the proper manner. It's being in the market day in and day out to get the best deal and all the necessities children from 5 -20 need..and yes that's a lot..think school shoes, sports shoes, flip flops, soap for washing clothes, soap for washing bodies, lotion/Vaseline, shoe polish, locks for lockers, more locks for lockers..oh and even more locks for the lockers whose keys work in everyone else’s lockers. It requires coordinating and overseeing our tutoring program, evaluating the children's performance and making sure investors in our Scholarship Program are made aware of our kids progress. It'sbeing there to wipe tears, listen to problems or tell them when their misbehaving. It's actually quite comical to hear Kate Gosling complain about 8..i almost want to introduce her to Alley's life and see what she has to say! Alley definitely doesn't get ski trips to Park City for her and the kids! With all that being said I've never met a more self-motivated, dedicated team member than Alley. She does all this day after day (often 7 days a week) and still manages to wake up and see the value in it and the opportunity she's helping to give to these children.  She's got an amazing laugh and a heart of gold and because of that I want to THANK Alley for all that she's done for TFFT and our children!http://runtime.widgetbox.com/syndication/track/4ede470f-3dc0-4619-8779-b067d8f9b5e4.gif

 Hat's off to ya Alley

Lots of love stateside! xxoo


Monday, May 18, 2009

A family of 64?

As the kids returned to school this month, I was reminded yet again how important the TFFT Family has become to not only us; the organization or the staff here on the ground, but to the children. Earlier this month Alley, Lou and myself headed out to pick up our 64 watoto and bring them back to Usa River Academy for Term II. It made for 3 cars (with the help of Lou and John), and a long day, but the smiles on the kids faces made every single pick up worthwhile. As we showed up to school with each car full of children, trunks, and bags full of goods for the next three months, we found many of the students crying, sad to leave their families behind. However, our family, the TFFT family couldn't have been more thrilled. With each drop the crowd in the grass grew larger and the cheers for the kids arriving grew louder. There were chants, and tackles, hugs and laughter.

It occurred to me that TFFT was accomplishing exactly what we were meant to be. We have successfully created a safe environment for these 64 children. An environment where they can learn, can thrive and feel at home. TFFT is not changing the past, giving them back their parents, or adjusting the reality of their individual situations. However, we are giving them a future, giving them a hope they can rely on, and people who care about them. 


As I was heading home that evening, I bumped into teachers Ruth and Margaret who teach Class 1 and 2. I gave them a liftee into Usa and as we drove they talked about how happy they were to see all the children again. Teacher Ruth then said, "Emily, your children, these ones from TFFT are so happy. They are the best because they get here and there are no tears, they are just so happy to be with the other children. Yes, they are so happy to be here with their friends- they are like family." It was a nice day to be in Africa, and a great day to be a part of the TFFT family.



Monday, March 23, 2009

Snake Park Safari

Lou cooked up the brilliant idea to have a fun-filled afternoon for our scholarship children of a field trip & ice cream and had the perfect location: Usa River Snake Park. Split into two groups, we took off up the Momella Road last Thursday and Friday. Within minutes of arrival, it was obvious who were the reptile lovers. I was quite impressed as most were fearless, trying to get as close as possible and even willing to hold some of the creatures! They were fascinated by everything. We had two great guides who took the kids around teaching them about every animal at the center. They were all great listeners and I know they learned a lot.

We were able to see all kinds of different snakes - African Tree Snake, Green Mambo, Cobras, Rat Snakes, and that's only the beginning. The albino cobra from Thailand was the favorite amongst the older boys.













Lomanyaki holding a snake!


The larger than life crocodiles instigated shrieks and shrills from the children, but they came around and couldn't help but hanging on the sides of the pit staring. The snake park also had several tortoises wandering around the different pits which became favorites of the children. They weren't afraid to pick them up, touch their shells, pet their heads (if the turtle was brave enough!), and some even had the chance to sit on them!













Helena and Sophia sitting on tortoises!


There are hundreds and hundreds of chameleons living in little huts all over the back portion of the center. In East African traditions, chameleons are bad omens so everyone was a little hesitant getting too close. But after seeing the guide pull out one after the next, they warmed up to the idea of holding the little creatures.


After our little adventures with the reptiles, we had refreshing snack of ice cream cones and headed back to school. Everyone had a blast! I know this will be a treasured memory for them all in the years to come.














Sunday, March 15, 2009

SOS Gala Press Release

 Howdy All;

Sorry this has taken so long to get out - I've been in Nairobi setting up the Teacher Training program with Braeburn High School (Nairobi).  I'm actually meeting two members of the Education Department from Kenyatta University tonight, so hopefully I can report back some welcoming news.  Anyhoo, just wanted to let all of you who weren't at the gala to keep abreast of the comings and goings of TFFT.  Enjoy!

--

Nairobi Hosts TFFT’s First Annual South of the Sahara (S.O.S.) Gala

 

Muthaiga, KENYA – Members of ‘the Foundation for Tomorrow’ (TFFT) hosted the first annual South of the Sahara fundraising Gala in Muthaiga, Kenya on Saturday, February 28th in the hope of raising awareness for its work throughout East Africa.  Over sixty guests from around the world attended the event, which showcased the many humanitarian projects which the Foundation’s staff supervise in and around Tanzania. 

 

Spearheaded by TFFT Managing Director, Ms. Lali Heath, the event raised over $12,000 in funds which will be earmarked for various new projects that the Foundation for Tomorrow is pursuing – including a Teacher Training program which will help to improve the quality of maths education in TFFT-affiliate schools in Arusha.

 

In addition to benefiting a worthy cause, guests were treated to five-star cuisine, live entertainment from Ms. Maia Van Lekow, a silent auction and raffle – with prizes that ranged from original artwork to stays in boutique lodges located throughout Kenya and Tanzania.  In the words of one S.O.S. Gala guest, Mr. Joris Smit of Amstelveen, Holland the event “was a hugely fun.  And I really felt gratified that my gift was going to help such a great organization, and such great kids.”

 

Founded in 2006 and based in Charlotte, North Carolina USA, the Foundation for Tomorrow is an NGO which provides quality education for orphaned and abandoned children in Tanzania.  

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Kids helping kids

Hey all, so I guess my first order of business is to apologize for being such a slacker this past month. I promise I will make my bloggin' more of a priority this month for those of you waiting patiently to hear the latest Tanzanian on-goings. Although Tim seems to have things pretty under control below.

A lot has been going on lately but one of my more favorite moments last month was a field trip we took to Nkoaranga Orphanage with some of the older students. What was more amazing was how it all occurred. I was at school one day hanging with the kids when Isak, Richard and Simon Peter approached me. Isak has really been working on his English lately, as before this past year he was in a Kiswahili speaking school and wasn't exposed to the language much at all. After they all greeted me, Isak asked to speak to me. He then, in his broken English, told me that he and Ombeni (his best friend and another TFFTer) and the 3 other boys from his hometown of Lushoto, (Zacharia, Simon and Richard) wanted to go up to NK Orphanage. He tried to explain to me that they too are orphans, but now they are being helped and given an education by TFFT and so now they want to go to a local orphanage, (more specifically the orphanage in Ombeni's village where many of our kids come from), so that they can help the little kids there. He asked if I could pick them up from school and take them up to play and give attention to the kids and then bring them back to school later that day. I was thrilled and amazed at the compassion these young men have and continue to show. If any of you were to know Isak, you would also know that when he speaks he can't stop smiling and he often gets excited and giggles, which only adds to the sweetness of the kid. So of course, I agreed to their outing request.

The next weekend Meghann, Alley and I headed out to Usa River Academy where we then squeezed 5 grown boys in the back of our Suburu, Ombeni, the tallest, may or may not have been in the hatchback, while Alley and I squeezed our full grown (and growing thanks to all the rice and beans) bodies in the passenger seat. We headed up to NK where the kids were all waiting for us to walk up the hill and see them. 

Nkoaranga Orphanage houses between 25-30 kids at any given time, all under the age of 5. It's run by Mama Upendo and Mama Andrew, along with several other Mama's who rotate care of the kids. There are typically about 3 Mama's on duty with all the kids at time. 

The boys were great with the kids. Within minutes Isak had baby David in his arms, and shortly after the others followed suit and grabbed babies as well. Actually, somehow Simon, who's not a big kid, ended up with Faraja in his arms, who's probably about 3 years old and looks like she's 5 (read: meatball status), which of course had me laughing and probably hurt poor Simon's back. We brought a parachute up to play with and the little ones had a fun time running under it, lying on it, running with it and anything else they could think of. The boys then found themselves back inside for lunch and were a huge help while feeding all the babies their rice. We even saw a few faces coupled with noises to get them to open their mouths!

When we finally left, I think everyone was exhausted and happy at the same time. Isak had brought his little notebook to write memories from the day and had an ear to ear grin on his face. On our way back home we stopped off for a little ice cream to treat everyone to a day well done and then turned up the radio and sang a little Akon for the drive into school. It's truly unbelievable how much I end up learning from the young people I'm supposed to be teaching so much to each day.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Matonyok Dedication Ceremony


Emmy and Ndemno

The wonderful patrons of Matonyok, Ms. Emmy Sitayo and Mr. Peniel Ndemno.
So, now that I inexplicably have a stronger internet connection, here are some pictures of the Dedication Ceremony at Matonyok.

Gala-pa-looza!

March 3 – Greetings to all and a happy beginning of March!  For those you not in the know, this past Saturday was our first annual S.O.S (South of the Sahara) Fundraiser in Nairobi.  About sixty people descended in Muthaiga to spotlight TFFT’s projects in and around Tanzania.  And in the end, we raised quite a bit of money for the Foundation – and raised a considerable amount of awareness for our work (helped in part by an amazing video produced by Quite Bright films based in Nairobi.  If you get a chance, pick up a copy.  It really does an amazing job of explaining what we do and why we do it.  Plus there’s a pretty cool scene in it that – I believe – captures the essence of my beard exquisitely.)

 

So yes!  There was live dancing, some singing…. And attendees might have had the opportunity to hear a Program Director who will remain nameless belt out an impromptu version of Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing”. 

 

Now I’m currently in Nairobi hashing out the Teacher Training program with one of the many international schools here.  However, one of the big issues is that the Tanzanian teachers speak Kiswahili predominately, whereas the teachers in Nairobi speak English almost exclusively.  But I’m speaking with a professor tomorrow regarding a mentorship program for six Tanzanian educators over the coming year.  All in all, should be an interesting program… especially given the amount of work that’s gone into the proposal.  Honestly, I must have re-written this thing front to back six different times.  And that doesn’t even include the internal revisions since the fledgling idea. 


So that’s all from here, little campers.  Hopefully you’re all rocking it well.
 

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Special Thank You to Lou Corse & Friends...

Lou Corse hosted a lovely evening of Christmas Carol singing back in December for family and friends. The evening benefitted The Foundation For Tomorrow as everyone was asked to kindly bring donations of toys, clothing, or school supplies for our scholarship children. We received boxes and bags of items as well as generous monetary donations which were used towards purchasing over 200 pairs of shoes for our scholarship children!
Along with our 66 scholarship children, all of these donations also benefitted more than 90 other children at Nkoaranga Orphanage and Good Hope Orphanage. Toys and especially stuffed animals have all found loving homes in the arms of toddlers & babies at Nkoaranga. Each child at Good Hope had the chance to choose a special gift of their choice from the donations, the smaller ones going for toys and books while the older ones were so excited to have new pieces of clothing. Greg Forster with CMC Automobiles donated footballs (read: soccer balls) and the kids at Usa River Academy haven't stopped playing since! We are so grateful to everyone for their donations and support of our mission here in Tanzania, it wouldn't be possible without you! Here are some pictures of all the children you have helped along the way...







































































Monday, February 23, 2009

Also, for those of you who wished you could have been there and missed the bus, here's my address from the event (the event being the Matonyok Dedication Ceremony):

--

 

Dear honored guests, friends of Matonyok and ‘The Foundation for Tomorrow’

 

I would like to thank you for taking the time out of your busy day to attend this ceremony for the dedication of Matonyok’s new sanitation facility.  As Emmy would say, ‘You are welcome.’

 

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Tim Carey (also, Baba Timu) and I am a representative of ‘the Foundation for Tomorrow’, the NGO which provided the support for this project. 

 

What you see in front of you is the result of not only hours and hours of hard work, but the dedication and vision of so many individuals.  From the donation of the funds by the Hornig family of America, to Ms. Meghann Gunderman the Executive Director of The Foundation for Tomorrow, to Ms. Lali Heath our Managing Director – to the contractor, to the fundis, to the teachers, to the volunteers, to even the children – this has been a labor of love, and one that has been a learning experience for all.

 

 State of the art, not only is the new sanitation facility equipped with a bio-gas tank – but the water reclaimed from the showering process will be used in the newly planted organic garden.  This means that Matonyok will save money every day on cooking and irrigation, thereby benefiting the center  - and the children - as a whole.

 

In particular, I would like to thank Ms. Emmy Sitayo and Mr. Peniel Ndemno, the motivating force behind Matonyok.  These two individuals have been pivotal in making what was only a blueprint five months ago into this new facility, which will meet the daily needs of the twenty-seven children at Matonyok.  This building, Emmy assures me, is the first step in realizing her dream of establishing a school on these premises – the Engeno Matonyok Maa School.  Inshallah, Emmy. 

 

Both Emmy and Ndemno have committed their lives to providing quality education to the children here, and they truly embody the spirit of compassion and giving that makes this center such a wonderful place.  Not only have they provided these children with the basic necessities of life, but they have created a sense family that will give each of the students at Matonyok the tools that will help them to make their communities a better place for all. 

 

On a personal note, this project reinforces the mission statement of my home organization, the Foundation for Tomorrow – ‘empowering the future of developing nations.’  After all, nations are created from one basic building block – the individual.  And before the individual can think about “Tomorrow”, a few basic needs must be met - food, shelter, education and health.  While Emmy and Ndemno have done a wonderful job in providing the food, shelter and education – I can only hope that this sanitation facility will help to provide the children with a healthy living environment, so they can change the future and, in fact, empower the future of Tanzania as a whole. 

 

Again, I thank you for your time and invite you to enjoy this event among the members from all different backgrounds in what the Maasai call ‘Matonyok’ - working toward one goal. 

 

Thank you again. 

Hey Everyone - Here's the press release from the Matonyok Opening Ceremony:

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Maasai Home Converts Waste to Fuel With Help of TFFT

 

Olasiti, TZ   Becoming environmentally conscious provides significant benefits to the Matonyok Parents Trust and the 27 children who live there. On Wednesday, February 4th over forty members of the Tanzanian and international community gathered in the Arusha district of Olasiti for the dedication of a state-of-the-art sanitation facility at the Matonyok Parents Trust. 

 

This facility was funded by the Hornig family of New York, USA and was built with the support of ‘The Foundation for Tomorrow’ (TFFT), an NGO which provides quality education for orphaned and abandoned children.  Among the ceremony attendees was the Founder and Executive Director of TFFT, Meghann Gunderman; the local US Embassy Warden for Arusha, Mrs. Ruth Edwards; Mr. Raphael Mollel, Ward Executive Office; Philemon Parshuku, member of Social Welfare; Ibrahim Mayo, Agriculture Officer; and the patrons of the Matonyok Parents’ Trust, Ms. Emmy Sitayo and Mr. Peniel Ndemno.

 

The sanitation facility took over five months to build and contains a bio-gas reservoir which will convert waste material to safe cooking fuel.  Also, included in the structure is a grey water reclamation system, which will provide the necessary water for the Trust’s recently planted organic garden.  To combat the rising cost of food, this garden will greatly reduce their reliance on outside vendors for food and will also teach students the importance of a healthy and nutritional diet of locally grown fruits and vegetables.    

 

The Matonyok Parents Trust is a registered Tanzanian charitable organization, and currently provides the necessary education, food, clothing and shelter for twenty-seven Tanzanian children.