Having spent the first part of the year sharing our dream for the learning centre with the TFFT family in the U.S., it was pretty special to return to Tanzania and feel the growing anticipation of the TFFT Scholars and team. Countless moments have reminded me what a game changer this is going to be for TFFT, our scholars, the community, and Tanzania at large. Seeing the spark in the eyes of the individuals who will utilize this amazing place once it’s built brings everything to life in a new way.
On one of my first days here, Melissa and I went to visit TFFT Scholars Joyce, Ndera, and Sarah. Their school is on holiday for the month of June. During their break, TFFT has hired a tutor to provide them extra instruction in math and chemistry.
For the past eleven years, TFFT has often had to rely on bare, under-resourced government facilities that lack electricity, for TFFT trainings and other programming. Therefore, I met the girls in the small classroom TFFT rented for their tutoring. Their chairs screeched across the concrete floor as girls huddled together, excitedly studying every detail of the learning centre renderings.
They were giddy imagining that soon tutoring and all other TFFT programming during school breaks will take place in the learning centre—complete with technology, wifi, large study tables, whiteboards, and more. Books and expansive windows will surround them as they study.
Enormous smiles spread across their faces as they took it all in—a library with 50,000 books, a full computer lab, a college guidance centre, connectivity, abundant educational resources, and universal access! Their wheels were turning, and a surreal, is-this-really-happening feeling hung in the air.
Sarah, who is a singer, was curious if there will be a place for performances. I was happy to report that yes, there will be both indoor and outdoor spaces for speakers, events, and performances. Perhaps we are in store for a TFFT Scholar Talent Show in addition to the speaking engagements and other programming we are envisioning!!
Already planning how she will come spend an entire day at the learning centre during school breaks, Ndera was delighted to learn that there will even be a restaurant. She promised Melissa she will stop by the TFFT offices to invite her to lunch when she comes to work in the computer lab for the day. Joyce was elated to know that this seemingly magical place will actually be open to the entire community, children and adults alike, giving everyone access to what they need to learn and succeed.
Now they all wanted to see the land! We drove together and spent almost an hour just hanging out on the site, talking about the possibilities. The architecture and location will draw people from near and far. Our scholars will gather here with their guardians for TFFT’s Family Day in December. They will stop by over breaks for check-ins with our team or to do their homework. The mere idea of it all ignited something within Joyce, Ndera, and Sarah. They were beside themselves with excitement.
The tree in the center of the circular building is one of Joyce’s favorite design features, so she was relieved to confirm that we will indeed plant a tree. It struck me as so clever that this question occurred to her immediately when she saw the land. We even commented on the symbolism of the tree growing just as the minds and curiosity of everyone using the centre will also grow.
This learning centre will expand TFFT’s impact in an incredible way, opening doors and creating pathways to opportunity through trainings, expansive learning opportunities, mentorship, and incubation. It will meet people in the community where they are. It will raise the bar for educational excellence and encourage people to take action in pursuit of their dreams. It is powerful to imagine the innovation that will take flight as a result of this place. The change that this facility represents is palpable, and it has made me feel enormously grateful for all of you who are making it a reality. Thank you.