The Latest News from EfforTZ
Did you know the Maasai diet consists primarily of cow's milk, cow's blood*, goat meat, beef and uji (a porridge made of flour, maize, water and milk)?
But what about vegetables? The Maasai are known as herders and warriors, not farmers. Traditionally, they've looked down on people who plant crops.
Some inroads are being made though, thanks to the Maasai women who are learning about the importance of vegetables to their diets.
When the Maasai girls in our scholarship program arrive for pre-secondary school at our partner the Emusoi Center, they're introduced to a healthy diet that includes beans, rice and vegetables. They're also taught how to grow their own food, working alongside staff members in Emusoi's gardens.
Emusoi staff and students picking tomatoes. Photo by Emusoi Center.
The experience prepares them for the food they'll encounter in secondary school and provides them with an education in good nutrition and farming which they can share with their families and communities.
Enusoi not only prepares the girls academically, socially, and emotionally for the different challenges they'll face outside their villages, but "nutritionally" as well!
Beans, beans, and more beans! Photo by Emusoi Center.
*Once a month blood is taken from a cow by shooting a small arrow in its neck from close range. The wound is closed after a gourdful of blood is obtained and the cow returns to the herd. The blood is then mixed with milk.
Derick Lotovuaki is a friendly, outgoing 11 year-old who loves being around people, which is why his current goal of working in tourism when he grows up would be a perfect fit!
Derick was just five years-old when he was brought to the TACODA Children's Home, an EfforTZ partner in Tanzania. No one knew who his father was. His mother had disappeared and his grandmother was unable to care for him. Right from the start he climbed up on the laps of the staff and visitors and hammed it up for any camera pointed in his direction. Six years later, he's lost none of his charm!
Derick, at six years-old, hamming it up for the camera in a volunteers's hat and sunglasses!
But Derick is more than charming. He's also bright and hardworking. Last year, while in the 3rd grade at Usa River Academy, he earned all A's and B's except for a C in Civics. His best classes were science, history, geography, art, and Kiswahili.
In January he passed the entrance exam for Trust St. Patrick School, one of the best schools in Arusha. Now in the 4th grade he's proving just how bright he is and how hard he's willing to work by again receiving mostly A's and B's. The only C's he earned were in math and in French.
Derick at the EfforTZ Educational Center in January.
Derick is also a sports enthusiast, playing soccer both at school and at the TACODA Children's Home. From a sponsor letter he wrote 18 months ago, we also know he is anxiously awaiting the next World Cup Soccer Championship. Of course, this will require Derick to be very, very patient as this championship event is still two years away!
In November, Derick wrote to his sponsor, "I have never seen you. I want to see you." He finished the letter writing, "Good bye and God bless you."
Over the next several weeks, we'll be profiling many of our scholarship students, sharing their academic achievements, and excerpts from the letters they've written to their sponsors or members of the EfforTZ family. We're proud of all of our scholarship students. They've overcome difficult obstacles - poverty, abandonment, homelessness, hunger, and the looming prospect of child marriage - to realize their dream of obtaining an education and a better life.
Because our scholarships include not only tuition but medical care, clothing, school transportation and, where necessary, room and board - for their entire academic careers - these children now have stability and hope for the first time in their young lives. Thank you for helping provide these precious gifts!
EfforTZ co-founder Bebe Dudley and scholarship student Gift Saitoti.
"I am thinking when I grow up I will help people as you help me," 15 year-old Gift Saitoti wrote to his sponsor six months ago. This quote personifies the powerful impact sponsors have on the children they help; for Gift, in particular, it shows the amount of progress he's made in the last year.
Gift is an orphan who wound up living on the streets from the time he was six years-old until he was 10, when he was taken in by our partner, the TACODA Children's Home, in Arusha. Like many of our children, he suffered from malnutrition. He had also severely burned his hand in a fire.
A photo of Gift shortly after he arrived at the TACODA Children's Home.
In addition, he had never been to school. As a result, when he started first grade he was one of the oldest children in the class, a difficult situation which only became worse as he grew older and became more self-conscious.
Over a year ago, he became so uncomfortable he began avoiding classes and when he did go, he didn't focus on the work. Understandably, his grades began to slide.
But thanks to the TACODA and EfforTZ staff and Gift's teachers, who took the time to talk to him about his behavior and the consequences of it to his future, as well as the continued support of his sponsor, Gift has made strong improvements in his grades and behavior.
A year ago, at the end of his first term in 6th grade, his average grade was a D. This year, it's a C. In his English class he's gone from a C to an A! The head teacher's comments this last term point out the change. "Gift has worked very hard this term. Keep up with the same spirit," Evalyne Augustine Ngowi, at Usa-River Academy wrote on his report card.
In Gift's recent letter to his sponsor, he wrote, "I create my own destiny. I will love and respect myself every day of my life." And later, "Problems are opportunities that make me stronger."
Gift taking part in a play put on for visitors to the TACODA Children's Home in January, 2012.
This August, Gift will have his first "paid" apprenticeship. Under the guidance of Deo, our representative in Tanzania, he will also open up his first bank account. This will be a great opportunity for him to learn how work produces opportunity, how the business and banking worlds operate, and how earnings and savings relate to life over more than the short-term. We also hope he will set a good example for our younger boys, demonstrating how work contributes to confidence and self-esteem.
In Gift's young life there have been many difficult situations, some terrifyingly so. And yet, he's determined to overcome them and realize his dreams. This is Gift's last year of primary school. We hope he will see the wisdom of continuing his education in secondary or vocational school next year. He's very entrepreneurial and additional education will help him achieve his life's goals. We're all rooting for him as he begins the next phase of his life!