Monday, December 20, 2010


TFFT conducted a Training of Trainers from October 14 to 16 and Dec. 1, 2010. There were 9 participants—seven of whom were the “training champions” from the first teachers training held in August, and the other two were Usa River Academy’s headmaster and second master. The main goal of the ToT was to prepare the training champions for their role as URA’s in-house continuing professional development facilitators—our attempt at making the training program sustainable. Below is an article about the training written by one of the training champions, Mr. Geoffrey Lubega, who is also the Chairperson of URA’s Academic Advisory Committee.

Melissa F. Queyquep

Teachers Training Program Director

On behalf of the training champions, we are very grateful for the opportunity which was given to us by The Foundation for Tomorrow to be trained as trainers. Just emerging as a champion alone made me believe in my self, so when the program was introduced it made me prepared psychologically to attend and participate in it.

The workshop had nine participants, and these were Mr. Kamuru Leonard, Mr. Kyambadde Christopher, Mr. Michael Gitau, Madam Lucy, Madam Eva Ngowe, Madam Mary Zziwa, Madam Carol Bernard , Madam Elizabeth, and myself.

The workshop was facilitated by exciting and knowledgeable facilitators—Mr. Geoff Gaskell, Mr. Kennedy Oulu, and TFFT Teachers Training Program Director Madam Melissa Queyquep. Before the training, TFFT’s Managing Director and Teachers Training Program Director ensured that the facilities were all in place for the program to be successful.

The workshop covered modules on the principles of adult learning, training methodologies, developing action learning projects, introduction to mentoring and to monitoring and evaluation. Excellent facilitating skills and professionalism where exhibited during the course of training.

The final part of the training was a practicum, held on December 1, where we were required to make a presentation on a topic that we ourselves had chosen. Just to come up with a topic and research about it was a challenge because it required a topic which could suit adult learners. But with consistent guidance from Madam Melissa, I came up with one (Roles of a Teacher). After choosing the topic, we also had to develop our own session plans. When it was time to present, every body was looking at me. This made me a bit nervous but I quickly gained stability and made what I call my best presentation. I heaved a sigh of relief when my 45 minutes of fame ended (that’s the amount of time given to each of us to present in front of the class). All of us were nervous but the presentations went well. At the end of the day we were all in agreement that this mock presentation contributed to our growth as teachers and most importantly to our role as advisers to our colleagues in school. We also had a good laugh as we discussed and reflected on how we performed during our presentation.

The learning I gained from the workshop will help me in my capacity as member of the Academic Advisory Committee, in training and in mentoring my co-teachers who might need some help in carrying out their responsibilities. Lastly I will be in a position to monitor and evaluate, and advice on the teaching- learning process in our institution.

I, together with my colleagues, will make sure that this training will have a lasting impact during and after the process of executing our responsibilities as teachers as well as trainers.

Let me once again thank the TFFT management, funders and other stakeholders who made this training a reality and a success.

May the Almighty Lord reward all of you!


Monday, September 27, 2010

Training Better Teachers

Blog Entry by: Melissa Queyquep, TFFT Teachers Training Program Director

August witnessed TFFT’s first teachers training—my first major outing since joining the organization in June as Teachers Training Programme Director. The training, held at Makumira University College, brought together twenty-one (21) teachers from Usa River Academy and Matonyok Learning Center for five days of learning, re-learning (and for some, I believe, some un-learning, too), reflection about how they teach, and lots of laughter and jolly chatter in between.

Tottering First Steps

Originally planned as a 10-day training covering seven modules, the training programme was born out of a series of activities aimed at identifying the target participants’ training needs. This included conducting classroom observations for all 26 teachers at URA (an undertaking not for those who are easily bored), developing and conducting training needs surveys, (almost daily) conferencing with the Headmaster, and for good measure, finding out what the students think of how their teachers perform in class a survey.

I said “originally planned” because a few days before the implementation of the plan, I had to revise the programme to accommodate an “unforeseen” event—something that the headmaster at URA failed to advise me about as I was putting together the training plan (never mind that he knew of the dates weeks before). Yes, John Lennon was right—life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans… And so the 10-day training became two sets of five-day training sessions, the seven modules reduced to four with the most basic and most important topics prioritized and the rest moved to the next training in December.

Inciting Interest

Seriously, I was in too much pressure to make this training work, not just because the organization waited a long time to find the right person to head the programme but also because the teachers (who to begin with are not in the best of moods from not being paid their salaries for three months) were writing off their holiday just to attend this training. It has to be worth their while! At the onset I made it clear with everybody that the training is participatory and that I am merely a facilitator, a guide on the side. I involved them in laying out the house rules and gave them the chance to voice out their expectations. As expected, the first few hours of the first day were a bit awkward, but with the help of a warming-up energizer the mood lightened and the teachers started feeling at ease with me. Halfway through the day, I felt the pressure lift off. The participants were responding well to the group activities and were actually showing signs of enjoying.

The next days proceeded smoothly. Everyday I arrive at the venue with all of them eagerly waiting. There was never a day that we had to start late and what’s more, their participation and the quality of work they were turning in even surpassed my expectations. It must be the promise of an incentive for the best performers at the end of the training and the opportunity to be selected as a “training champion” (a plan hatched by myself and Fratern to entice the teachers to attend and participate), but I want to think that they realized the importance of the training to their professional growth. The chatter during breaks and all the laughter and passionate debates during group presentations showed that the teachers enjoyed the opportunity the training provided for them to get to know their colleagues better. The group activities planned evoked reflection on how they do things and how they can improve them. There were a lot of aha moments, a lot of reinforcing of what they already know, and most importantly, opportunities to learn from each other.

Mzee Senkondo presenting his group’s output

Mzee Senkondo have more than forty years of teaching experience, and easily the most senior of the group. One of my favorite moments in the training was getting him to dance the Hokey Pokey during an afternoon energizer, and seeing him enjoying it!

Group Superstars hard at work…

…and not to be outdone, Group Best, too!

Christina Claxton facilitating a group session on Addressing Special Educational Needs in the Classroom.

Christina, a Special Education Needs Specialist from Amani Center for Streetchildren in Moshi, agreed to facilitate the session for free and has committed to help out with the next SEN trainings!

Class photo with Christina Claxton

Big Smiles and Stout Hearts

The speeches from the participants nominated by the group to give the teachers’ response were heartwarming, the claps have that energetic lilt to it, and if you were there you would not miss the big, warm smiles on the participants’ faces when they walked up to the front to receive their certificates from Fratern and Madam Eva Mosha, the District Academic Officer. I, for my part, found hope in what the training had accomplished. Those teachers’ warm smiles and the glimmer in their eyes suggest that they are walking away from the training with fire in their hearts and renewed spirits and I am happy with that. Hearts on fire could change the world, or if not the world, at least their classrooms.

Class photo with Madam Eva Mosha of the District Education Office, Meru District, and Fratern Tarimo, TFFT Managing Director, during the awarding ceremony.

Melissa with the first batch of teachers trained under the TFFT Teachers Training Programme

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Graduation Ceremony!!!!

Graduation Ceremony for Standard seven and form four students class of 2010 at usa river academy took place on Saturday September 11. It was one of the happiest days out there. Lots of performances from kiddos and one of the things that I was mostly amazed with was how talented the TFFT scholarship children are. Out of every performance there was a minimum of 4 TFFT kids. And two of the performing groups were actually by TFFT kids only. Drama, singing, dancing…….

Good number of parents/care takers showed up, including mama Mrisho from Irente children’s home, who traveled for 6 to 7 hours drive all the way from Lushoto to Usa River Academy.

After the official ceremony, Fratern and I gathered with all of our scholarship children in one classroom where they enjoyed special TFFT graduation cake, juice, crackers, chicken, chips mayai and samousas with their brothers and sisters (graduates)

Congrats Agnes (our form four graduate), Jackline, Eliupendo, Vincent, Dickson and Zakaria (class seven graduates). We are proud of you!!!!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Arusha Airport

Emily and I decided to treat some of our younger kiddos who spend the term break on the other end of town to a surprise trip to the airport. We realized what a true surprise it was when we arrived to pick them up and they had long faces and were hesitant to join us as they thought they were going to the hospital...All was quickly well when we explained the days plan.

We went to the little Arusha airport where the kids could watch all of the smaller private and charter planes landing and taking off.

They sat right up against the gate and spent a lot of time deciding which plane they thought was the biggest.

We got really lucky because as we watched planes landing we noticed one of the pilots was a friend. Jordi was incredibly gracious and agreed to come talk with the kids about being a pilot. He even invited us out to the tarmac to get a closer look at the plane.

I know it might not be obvious from Miriam's face, but they were VERY excited to be on the plane!

Jordi the pilot ate his lunch on the fly to be able to show us around his plane.

Not surprisingly Aminieli has decided he too will be a pilot.

They were all eager to get as close as possible to the cockpit.

When the passengers began to climb the steps to enter we all agreed it was probably time to exit the plane.

We snapped a quick group shot before the plane took off. Everyone was a tad gloomy as we were not flying off to the Serengeti!

Attitudes turned around quickly as they got sodas and lunch from one of the airport bars. They happily ate and watched as Jordi's plane took off. Though Aminieli thought the plane was his and squealed with excitement "there goes my air-o-plane, there goes my air-o-plane!"

Some of our best days on the ground grow out of seemingly small events and excursions. When we got back to the office Fratern told us about his memories of his first visit to an airport. We are so lucky to building memories with our scholarship students and there are more to come!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


In the next 3 days 17 RideTZ riders will be arriving in Tanzania to kick off our amazing Kili to the Coast- Ride For A Cause! I can't believe it's finally here. Our riders have spent countless months, days, and hours training on bikes and in the gym as well as fundraising. To date, this dedicated crew has raised more than 100K collectively for The Foundation For Tomorrow's scholarship kids and programs. Talk about an amazing group of people!

Excitement for our RideTZ Riders!

Here on the ground in TZ, we've been busy deciding everything from campsites along the route to how to transport enough water for 20+ riders over a 10 day period. We've had some great reccie trips (check out Anne's blog), fun rides out to school and a lot of laughs through this experience!

On Friday afternoon, our Summits Africa guides Ema and Jacob, and their crew of 15 will be taking the reigns, meeting our riders and getting us all psyched for our adventure! On Saturday, after a send off from all of TFFT's students at Usa River Academy, we'll hit the dirt.

Ema...our guide and teacher??
Jacob in his riding shoes...
Keep checking in to find out where we are and how we're doing! Also be sure to check in on Facebook and Twitter.

Ride TZ Reccie

Last month the guys at Summits packed up and headed off to do the last of the Ride TZ Reccies. The guides rode the entire route and I was lucky enough to join them for the first 3 days of riding.

We headed off with two of the Summits guides. This is Jacob, he recently returned from a six month bike adventure throughout the whole of East Africa.

This is Ema, he runs up and down Kilimanjaro for a living and has sumitted over 80 times. He is such a motivator and makes riding fun and his smile never fails to cheer you up. While riding up a sandy hill he has even been known to break into song singing "From a Distance," which made even the most exhausted rider (ME) happy to climb on.

The summits crew will be trailing us the whole time to ensure our safety.

The views are so stunning that even the guides have to take a moment to soak it all up.

Our first night we camp at Maji Moto, a fresh water pool.

A dip in this pool will definitely be the perfect end to the first day of riding.

Our trail can best be described as mixed- use. Sometimes we will break for dik dik other times we can encounter caravans of donkeys.

Many Maasai deserve thanks in helping to determine the best route when riding through the bush.

Things in TZ change quickly and often. The need for the multiple reccie's becomes apparent as fully functional bridges and routes that existed 2 months prior are no longer.

All is well though, as Ema always improvises with a smile.

Our lunch spot on day 2 takes us to Nyumba ya Mungu "House of God" lake.

Spinning tires through this sand is definitely a challenge, but luckily it wont be for too long.

The views of the lake are stunning.

You have to love the safi outfits you see in the remote villages.

Jacob attracts a crowd anywhere he goes.

With his energy you can see why everyone adores Jacob.

Hydration is key for a ride this long and hot!

Sunset on day 2 over the far side of Nyumba ya Munga.

View of the Pangani river from our camp on night 2.

Pangani River

I would love to see see hardcore mountain bikers cross this!

See those mountains in the distance. By the afternoon we reach and cross them and head down to Mkomazi national park for the night.

A Maasai man trying out the bike during a lunch break.

Late in the afternoon on the third day I parted ways with the Summits team. They continued on to Pangani. This Friday we will all meet up again and head off for Ride TZ. For the riders we have a great and challenging adventure ahead of us. If you are unable to participate in the ride stay tuned for dispatches from the field!

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