Friday, February 26, 2010

RideTZ Days 3 & 4

Ahh…and welcome to the bush! Day 3 will find us waking up and hitting the route full on. We will cover about 50 miles on bike daily and from here on out, we’ll be sleeping in tents until we reach Pangani (the beautiful coastal town where we’ll be celebrating our massive accomplishment). We’ll be heading towards Nyumba ya Mungu, Kiswahili for “The House of God.” This lake is actually a reservoir for the Nyumba ya Mungu Dam, a hydroelectric dam here. Day 3’s ride will be fairly flat, which will be great to get our legs warmed up! We’ll also have some spectacular views of the Blue Mountains and an incredible diversity of bird life to view as we ride. However, we’ll be feeling the heat of the African sun! With cool mornings and evenings in July, the days still manage to heat up quite a bit when the sun comes out to play, so some sun block will be necessary during our time in the saddle. Day 3’s ride also has some awesome little fishing villages around, where we’re sure to meet some interesting people, and probably even have a few companions joining us for bits. Everyone will be able to practice their Kiswahili as not many people will be speaking English in these areas.

Just to get everyone started:

“Hujambo” = “Hello, how are you”

Response= “Sijambo”

…and for the younger folks:

“Mambo” = slang for hey

Response = “Poa” (cool) or “Safi” (clean).

Don’t worry though; our Summits Africa guides will be with us acting as translators and teachers! We will be sure to stop for a long lunch during the peak of the heat, and will be rolling into camp later that afternoon ready for some food and a shower I’m sure!

Day 4 will take us away from Nyumba ya Mungu along the Pangani River Valley; the same trail the early explorers and slavers traveled. We’ll get a closer look at Nyumba ya Mungu Dam, as well as catch some beautiful scenery. We’ll be covering quite a bit of ground again as we head towards the mountains! We’ll also be passing through Same (pronounced Sa-Me NOT Same), which is a bustling little town on the road to Dar-es-Salam, one of Tanzania’s Capital Cities. Yes, there is some debate, as they’ve changed the cities around a bit, so now one is acting as the Parliamentary Capital (Dodoma) and one the Industrial Capital (Dar-es-Salam).

We’ll be stopping for the night at Mkombozi National Park, where we’ll have a shot at seeing some game! Although, with far less visitors than the Serengeti or Ngorogoro Crater, the animals are a bit shy, so we’ll have our work cut out for us. We’ll end our day with another sleep under the African sky, before starting our trek up the Mountains. Be sure to check in next week to hear about our climb to the top!

I’m off to clock some Kilometers on my bike! Enjoy this week of training everyone!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Guacamole is quite possibly the world’s most perfect food. Coming from a Southern California girl who was raised on Mexican food and ate a stuffed quesadilla at the airport as my last meal stateside, I admit my opinion could be biased. Needless to say, when the kids said that they really, REALLY wanted to learn to cook I immediately thought guacamole would be the perfect first dish. Now I know this seems entirely self serving, but it really is a dish full of teachable moments. We recently planted our avocado trees and will soon be grafting them into the delicious Hass variety, so it made sense to showcase the avocado. Guacamole is also a fresh, local, sustainable and nutritious food that is easy to prepare and recreate in the future. The lesson also allowed me to introduce the basics of kitchen safety, sanitation and preparation. But ultimately, the lesson was fun and delicious!

Wema showing off her knife skills as she chops a tomato.

Check out Redson with his garlic.

He takes "finely diced," very seriously.

Nearly final products.
I couldn’t believe it, but I forgot salt! In my opinion salt is its’ own food group and cannot be left out, so the school kitchen was kind enough to offer some up.

Clearly Wema shares my love for salt!

Finally, it was time for the mixing!
Well, when the head chef heard that were making something to eat he simply had to come see what we were up to. Oh did he LOVE the guacamole! He ate it up nearly as quickly as the kids and at the end proclaimed “this food is so good it could cure HIV!”

The head chef gives us the thumbs up!

After finishing their bowl, some of the boys swoop in on the remaining bits the girls had left

From the looks of the dishes scraped clean, I think the students agreed.

Guacamole is a very tough word for Tanzanians to say. I made every student pronounce it before I handed them a chapati. Many giggled as they struggled to pronounce the strange word. Still, mere minutes after they finished they ran to Josh to tell him of the delicious food they had just made called “CocoMo!”
It is definitely true that the way to the heart is through the stomach. I got more smiles, thanks you’s, and even some “God bless you Annie's,” after the guacamole lesson that I am tempted carry a Tupperware full with me in case I get pulled over by the traffic police.

If you would like to make your own guacamole the recipe is very easy. 1 large avocado, 1 small ripe tomato, ½ onion, 1 clove garlic, ½ lime, pili pili(habanero pepper) and salt and pepper to taste.

We will be cooking once a month, so stay tuned for our next foray into the culinary arts!

Monday, February 22, 2010


Richards great grandma and josh on the top left, Vincent's hut on the top right and Wema and Vincet's brother, his wife and their son in the farm where they grow corn and veggies to earn living.
(meghann and i were given some fresh corn to take with us)

On Monday last week Meghann (TFFT Executive Director) and I drove in a rented Land Rover truck from Arusha town early 8ish and our first stop was at the Good Hope Centre, one of the partner orphanages in which 16 Children from this center are enrolled in our Scholarship Program. We picked up the Good Hope manager and from there we drove in a rough road down to Kwa Ugoro, Marororni, and Migandini villages. These are the villages in which Redson, Vincent, Wema, Irene, Salvatory and Richard comes from. It wasn’t an easy task to drive there as at some point I thought our truck was going to flip.

Finally we were there and these families were thrilled to see us. You could tell how appreciative they were as in one house we were given milk chai (tea), another house fresh corn, soda in other house. Meghann was also nick named ‘Maswai’ which is typical Meru name and Irene step grandma’s name before she was baptized.

Seeing where these children come from , made me realize what a wonderful opportunity TFFT has given them. Trust me I am a Tanzanian, born and raised here and went to school here. There is no way they could have been able to go to good school like the one they are now and acquire a quality education on their own. It made so proud working for an organization like TFFT and being part of this. Most of the people we met who lives with the TFFT Scholarship Children during holidays were their grand parents, uncles or brothers.

The last home to visit was Richard’s; here we met his grandfather who was walking on crutches, grandmother, and great grandmother who is approximately in her late 80s or 90s. She couldn’t speak (ki)Swahili which is national language, luck enough I do speak (ki)meru her vernacular language. Meghann wanted to know which year was she born, the answer was I don’t know. Hoping that history might help to figure out how old she is, Meghann asked if she knows what was happening when she was born. The answer here was “NOTHING WAS HAPPENING WHEN I WAS BORN”

Many thanks to our supporters, In one way or another you have given the TFFT Scholarship Children the opportunity of their life time. They now has the chance of receiving the quality education and empower themselves in the future

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

RideTZ Days 1 & 2!

A little bit of information for all those wondering where and what exactly the RideTZ adventure seekers will be accomplishing on their 10-day ride to the Coast. I’m going to be covering different days in the next few weeks, so stay posted to make it through the whole, crazy trip!

When the RideTZ riders first land at Kilimanjaro International Airport, they will go straight to Momela Road, where they will be staying for the night at The Ngurdoto Mountain Lodge Momela Road is home to Usa River Academy (URA), TFFT’s flagship school, where 69 of our Scholarship recipients attend classes and live in boarding. Momela Road also leads to Arusha National Park Arusha National Park, the closest National Park to our city center. RideTZ riders will have an opportunity to meet the Ride Team, as well as get to know each other a little bit before the ride begins the day they arrive.

The next morning, we’ll be waking up early to hit the road (or dirt path depending). After decompressing from the plane ride, Summits Africa Summits Africa will debrief all riders and help everyone pack their bags for our big adventure! Once our team is set, we’ll head to URA to visit with the children and meet the TFFT Tanzania staff. It is at this point that our riders will be able to meet the faces who have touched them so much…such as Jim Coughlin, who shaved his head to raise money after being inspired by Rosie Msafiri’s story (

Some of the kiddies acting silly
After spending some time with the children, we’ll jump on our bikes and spend some time in the saddle! Our ride will take us towards the Masai Steppe, where riders will have their first go on African terrain. With some dust, some Maasai and maybe a bit of wildlife RideTZ riders will be able to get into the groove of riding on this half day out in the bush! Our last reccie trip had us stuck in a ng'ombe (cow) jam...a sight all too familiar in these parts!

By the end of the day, we'll all be ready to put our feet up, enjoy a nice cup of chai and talk about our first day on road!

Headed into the Maasai Steppe and our "open" road!

Friday, February 12, 2010


Hi all,

It’s such a big shame that it has been two months now since I joined the TFFT team in Tanzania as the Scholarship Program Director But this is my first blog post. I know I have been difficult to post something for TFFT blogers not because I don’t want to, rather because of the fact that social media and the like are new things to us in Africa and I would say mostly in East Africa.

How ever I haven’t been difficult in other areas (don’t judge me wrong!), According to Emily (our Development Director) I learned the TFFT Scholarship Children names and personalities faster than any other TFFTer. From now on, you should expect to hear more about the TFFT Scholarship Children form me.

So couple of weeks ago the whole TFFT team on the ground was at Usa River Academy, the school in which most of our kiddos goes to. Our kids came to us as usual, each of them shouting out a random story, others lifting themselves on our arms, others explaining how they have lost their padlock keys, others asking about trips etc. At some point it become silent and Yusuph (one of the triplets) came up with a question which we all paid attention to,

Yusuph; Joshua you are the boss to TFFT Right???

Josh; (puzzled by the question) I am not the boss to TFFT.

Yusuph; Yes, yes you are.

Josh; why do you think I am the boss to TFFT!!!?

Yusuph; because you have the beards

We all ended up laughing, but I learned from the kids that beards can make you become the boss. So I had to shave my beards because am not the boss

Parachichi planting

In July the secondary students along with class 6 took a special trip to Lou's house and planted avocado seeds. They have since grown and were ready to be permanently planted. The headmaster at Usa River Academy was kind enough to allocate us with a plot of land in their extensive garden for our trees. We had two great hardworking days and have the pictures to prove it!

Ombeni being very serious!

Lou's gardeners were a great resource. Not only were they extremely hard workers, here Dezi is teaching the kids about avocado tree growth.

Mary happily digging.

Everyone was impressed by he muscle shown here!

We dug 19 holes for our trees on Wednesday so that we could plant the trees on Thursday. Mere hours before we were due to plant them a wildly strong rain tore through the area down trees and wreaking havoc. Lucking Usa River Academy was in good form, but our holes were quite full of water and the soil proved muddy. The result was a humor filled dirty day. Hey, no one said gardening was clean!
Evidence of the rain's effect.

Nice Mary planting her tree.

Josh and Fadhili

The group gathers as Irene gets into the spirit.

The boys proudly show off their planted tree.

All of the avocado trees in a line

A final shot of Mt. Meru above the garden.

Special thanks for making these very special days possible go to Lou, Dezi, Kasanga, and Usa River Academy.