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.


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.