Thursday, August 23, 2012

Teacher Training @ MDFT

Learning to build and pace effective units and lessons
Using everyday materials in our daily lesson plans for our baby class students to strengthen their pre-writing muscles
Creating an environment that stimulates discovery using really inexpensive manipulatives
A simple object like a cloth pg can become a science tool, a counting helper, a building tool and many more creative things 
With a little stored power, we are able to demystify technology even when we do not have electricity in our school.
For the last couple of months, the teachers at MDFT have been hard at work training and bringing the Flood Garden learning model to life.  It been such and exciting yet difficult process!! However, we have all really grown through the process of examining our teaching philosophy and blending it with brand new skills.
We make a very good team and we are trying to build a productive learning communities with the teachers from neighboring schools.  

Already many local teachers and school administrators have dropped by and asked us many questions about  what we do. As part of our training, we visited area schools to observe other educators in action, look for new ideas and recruit teachers to our learning community.  Many of the teachers that we talked to are very interested in participating in a 'new concept' such as a teachers group where they can share ideas, learning materials and resources (face-to-face and online!)

The teachers began their training attending online (via workshops twice to three times a week.  It was quite a challenge because in Arusha, there are all manner of obstacles that prevent or delay the most determined person from getting to where they need to get on time.  In this case, the teachers met at an internet cafe (which they had never used before) to access learning materials, videos and to participate in live workshops.

Even though they were not very convinced at first and were hesitant to embrace technology, they soon began to participate eagerly in our Flood Garden Teacher's Facebook learning group and our growing Flood Garden Google doc education goody bag.  We agreed that this was a great way to conduct professional development because we are using each other, the internet, our school garden, local colleagues and professional as well as the whole town of Arusha as professional development resources.

We hope that soon, we will be able to access via internet, educators from all over the world and share global learning communities!

Monday, August 13, 2012

New Learning Tools!!!!

Some of our awesome school materials

Every good teacher gets super excited to get new school materials and today we went to the local market to purchase some of our Flood Garden learning tools.  We use everyday tools to teach the children to teach them life skills.  We got some traditional trays, and many materials that will help develop pre-writing muscles and encourage the children to care for their environment, the garden and also their communities.  Our teachers have great plans to use these materials and they are so very excited for the beginning of term in September when they can really try this out.
This week, we have inviting a small group of children to come during the school break so that we can test some of our new lessons.  We are very thankful and very excited and cannot wait to tell you about our progress.
Thank you for following our story...let us know that you are there by commenting on our posts.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Help from the Least of Us..

This week, we had a visit from Babu Briton (Grandfather of Briton). He is the grandfather of two of our students, Briton (6 years old) and Vavai (4 years old). He has recently become unemployed and with is extra time he stopped by to see if he could help teach the children about flowers!

This is extraordinary that he would come to us to offer help rather than the other way around....

Babu Briton, Briton and Vavai (both in stripes)
Briton and Vavai come from a very poor family. They were abandoned by their father shortly after their mother, who was born with correctable but un-addressed birth defects, began to exhibit mental problems. She soon began to neglect her boys and her father Babu Briton, stepped in to help in their care. At that time, Babu Briton earned a living by clearing up brush from construction sites. However, recently, a thorn from a local bush damaged his eye. He couldn't afford immediate medical treatment so he lost the use of the eye and was no longer useful to his employers.

Babu Briton came to us this week because he really loves our school. He offered to share his knowledge of local plants and flowers in exchange for the tuition for his grandsons who have now been left in his sole care.

The boys were part of the first group of children that enrolled in our school 2 years ago. They both exhibited severe symptoms of neglect. At first Briton (then 4 years old), especially, had terrible behavioral problems, did not listen to his teachers and often fought with his classmates.

Since they started attending MDFT, they are both well fed, exhibit great hygiene practices and love to learn. Briton is now more himself and has become very reliable, responsible and a leader among his peers. In fact, Briton and Vavai received the first exercise books that were purchased with the profits of our first Flood Garden harvest.

Preventable and/or correctable health issues are left unchecked in most of our community. The children suffer a double tragedy, one is to not have access to needed resources and another is to lose their loved ones to such preventable issues.

Government Exam Time!

This week is Government Examination Week.  It is very important for the children to be at our school to take the exams and the parents must try very hard to get the kids to school on these days.
In Tanzania, children who do not take these exams cannot pass to the next level. Children who are too poor to attend preschool will stay behind academically until they are 9 years old and can enter the public school system.  In public school, many of these kids are often excluded from school offerings because there are no programs to help them catch up.  These students usually drop out of school.

This is also an important week for the Flood Garden Project.  The test results that we will collect this week will be the last academic records using the MDFT traditional school model.  The test results that will be collected on July 2013 should indicate the real academic impact of the Flood Garden Project learning model. We will be working hard this year and look toward that small but meaningful milestone.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Flood Mamas

Recently, a group of mothers, locally known as mamas, gathered at our school.  Together with our school head master David, they started a small farm group to see if they too could create Flood Gardens near their homes. David talked to them about how to start their own little farming project and distributed seeds from the MDFT Flood Garden. These mamas are mostly AIDS widows or abandoned single mothers.
Flood Mamas' Farm plots before they planted

The mamas chose a leader among themselves and began to clear out a vacant common garbage lot.  Each mama now has a small plot in which to farm and most of them do their farm work in the morning so that they can take their harvested vegetables to the market for the day.

First mchicha crop
We now have a group of 18 mamas that have joined our Flood Mamas' group. They are an amazing group of young women that have now found a way to supplement their meager income by farming in a Flood Farm.  We would like to share their story.
Mama Ali selling her first harvest

Mama Ali (the mother of Ali, her eldest son) is the Flood Mama group leader.   She is a single parent of 4 young children.  2 of the children belong to her sister who pasted away from AIDS two years ago.  Until now, she has really struggled to feed the children in her care because she had no source of constant income. She and her children were abandoned by her husband.

Mama Ali now has a farm plot where she plants mostly mchicha, TZ spinach (amaranth) and a few other local vegetables. To date, with each weekly harvest, she is averaging about $22 per week.  This might be a small some to some but in her world this amount of money brings incredible improvement to her life.  Here is a short list of some of the things she can now afford:

  • She is now able to rent a small but clean room for her young family -- $5 per month 
  • She can buy up to 10Kg of maize flour every week -- $6 per week
  • She can buy salt --$1
  • She now has a bit of money to save and use for the children
Ugali and mchicha stew

Maize, water and salt are the ingredients used to make ugali, the traditional TZ staple.  Ugali usually served hot and works as a balanced side dish to a rich meat sauce but most people like Mama Ali can only afford to server the ugali alone. Many children live by eating only 1 or 2 small lumps of ugali per day.
Flood Mama working in her plot

Now, however, Mama Ali can afford to make ugali as a side to a more nutritious vegetable stew made with the products of her very own farm plot. With a bit of luck and hard work, Mama Ali and the Flood Mamas will be able to afford to make vegetable stew with beef broth and add needed proteins to their diets.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Flooding Our Community

Latifah and Lilian
Latifah and Lilian's mother came by our Flood Garden (MDFT Preschool) several months ago where she was given green pepper seeds and a few pointers on how to grow them herself, in her own home.  Today, her family celebrates the harvest of their very first crop of shiny, delicious green pepper.  Soon, they will be able to supplement their income as well as their diets by selling these peppers.

This event and this picture truly highlight the spirit of New World Flood. These two gorgeous girls are learning to be the solution Africa is waiting for. They are now part of the Flood and will do their part by giving the pepper seeds away to others.

There are now 8 Arusha homes that have benefited from the seeds from our little farm and we will be bringing you all their stories.

We want to extend our profound Thank You
to everyone who is following our story
and to everyone who is lending their support.
Please consider becoming a part of 

One Single Drop is the Beginning of the Flood

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Tuition Drive

One of the lessons that we have learned is that our little farm is currently too immature to produce enough vegetables to begin providing financial support to our school.  It will probably take a year or two for us to see a real surplus.  Although, we are really amazed about the positive impact our Flood Garden has had on our school and the community, we understand that we need to do more work and make it even better.

We have decided to ask for your help to get us through the next year or so while our farm is maturing.  We are starting a tuition drive so that our children can continue to attend our school for free. Many of our little ones are orphans and/or live with grand parents, and without our preschool they would be poorly supervised or even on the streets while their caretakers work to make ends meet.  Life on the streets of Arusha is very dangerous for unsupervised preschoolers.

One Single Drop is the Beginning of the Flood

Here is how you can help:

Sponsor a preschooler attending MDFT.  Tuition is $240 ($20 a month)

  • This donation will cover school fees, 2 nutritious meals a day and school supplies for one child for a whole year
  • An additional $100 per year will provide doctor visits and medicines
    • You will receive,
      • the child's progress report,
      • pictures and videos,
      • our school newsletter
      • printable art made by the student(s)
      • season's greetings from your student(s)
 Drinking coffee at a coffee shop a couple of days a week adds up to about $20 per month.  It is an small amount to the average coffee drinker but it is an amount that will give a little preschooler a great head start!!

We have 100 students so if possible, feel free to sponsor more than just one

Become a friend of the Flood Garden Project

Gift a monthly payments of $25, $50, $100, $200, $300, $400, $500, $600, $700, $800, $1000, or $5000+
Friends of the Flood Garden Project contribute a monthly amount to develop and spread Flood Gardens and the Flood Garden learning model into other Arusha schools.

We currently need monthly support to:
  • Create and build culturally appropriate learning materials and tools for the preschool
  • Provide field trips for the students
  • Provide steady Professional Development for the Flood Garden teachers and staff
  • Promote the Flood Garden Project
  • Provide community outreach events to spread the Flood through out our Arusha community
  • Expand the Making a Difference Foundation Tanzania school from an amazing preschool to a wonder and effect primary and secondary program
  • Expand the Flood Garden Project from a school garden into a viable and profitable farm to achieve our goal of making the Making a Difference Foundation Tanzania school(s) totally self-sufficient

You can also help us shorten our WISH LIST.  Here are some items that we could really use:

  • Bookshelves -- we currently need about 8-10 small bookshelves to place learning materials at a level where the children can easily reach them.  Currently, our classrooms have NO shelves.
          • Each shelf costs about $30 (50,000Tsh)
          • Total cost of 10 shelves $300
Note: Purchase a shelf and we will display your name or the name of your business/organization in a prominent place on that shelf

and our 'donate' button is not yet online 

If you are interested in helping us, please contact: