People of Charlotte, it's an honor to introduce you to Meghann Sehorn, Founder and Executive Director of The Foundation for Tomorrow! Meghann is a shining example of how one person can indeed make all the difference in the world. Oftentimes, we turn away from those in need, believing that we can't help and that it's too big of a mountain to climb. Engage with Meghann's story below to learn how she continues to climb mountains through The Foundation for Tomorrow and by climbing mountains, we mean it in the literal sense too, as in Kilimanjaro!
You started The Foundation For Tomorrow over 13 years ago. Can you tell us how this came about?
I studied International Relations and Geography in college. For my degree, I had to do fieldwork, so I chose to do my research in Tanzania and Kenya the summer between my junior and senior years. I visited Nkoaranga Orphanage in Arusha and became particularly close with Maasai triplets, Helena, Mathayo, and Yusufu. When I met them, the triplets were aging out of the orphanage and had nowhere to go. Their future was entirely uncertain, but I knew that their circumstances would determine their opportunities in life. Education would not likely be a reality for any of these children because of their vulnerability status, so I fundraised amongst my friends and family in Charlotte so that these triplets would be able to receive education and further support. This effort quickly snowballed into an organization, The Foundation For Tomorrow (TFFT).
We have evolved immensely in the past 13 years. Our work is focused in Tanzania, addressing vulnerability through the power of education. We offer orphan and vulnerable children the opportunity to succeed through access to quality schooling, health and psychosocial support, and life skills programs.
TFFT also works to improve the quality of instruction, resources in the classroom, and school management to ensure widespread, sustainable impact. TFFT currently supports 107 students, including 28 alumni, and is changing the face of education in the country through massive teacher training programs.
Can you tell us about the young people TFFT serves?
TFFT serves the most vulnerable children in society. Our mission is to serve orphan and vulnerable children, specifically Most Vulnerable Children, as defined by Tanzania’s Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. We work within communities across Tanzania to identify and then comprehensively select the most vulnerable children based on this framework. We serve children who would not otherwise have access to educational opportunities. We empower these children to pursue their interests by nurturing their dreams so they are able to lead productive lives and contribute to society in meaningful and relevant ways.
Tell us more about the programs TFFT now runs!
For the past thirteen years, we have focused on providing access to quality educational opportunities for orphan and vulnerable children. We initially focused on access to quality education, and then grew our work to serve the whole child. We firmly believe that health and psychosocial well-being goes hand-in-hand with educational success. TFFT also provides personalized developmental guidance, career coaching and mentorship, as well as basic needs support.
TFFT teaches scholars to care for themselves, providing whole child life skills classes, and emotional and mental support.
In order to improve the quality of education in schools, we have a robust teacher training program that includes training teachers and school management teams in both private and government schools. We are currently developing an interactive Learning Center in Arusha. This learning center will address the wider educational needs within our community by offering a library and literacy lab, a technology and computer center, a teacher training program, and a higher education advisory and scholarship center, among other programs. Our approach is all-encompassing: we invest in students, teachers, and the community.
You split your time between Charlotte and Arusha, Tanzania. How does that work?
I have worked in Tanzania in some capacity for the last 15 years, first volunteering and doing research for a degree, then through TFFT, The Foundation For Tomorrow. I typically spend on average 3 months of the year spread out between 3-4 trips in Tanzania. I go over in Feb/March for work and to run the Kilimanjaro Half marathon, then during the US summer at some point, and then I always spend September in Tanzania, as we host a Vision Trip for friends of TFFT, and our scholars have graduation that month each year. Logistically, I have an incredibly supportive husband who mans the house and looks after my three stepdaughters. From the start, he recognized the importance Tanzania had in my life, and shares that love of culture and land with me. I find myself incredibly lucky to get to spend so much time there each year!
The way of life in Tanzania and simplicity of life grounds me and puts things in perspective.
How can people in Charlotte become more involved with TFFT?
If TFFT’s goal of empowerment through education aligns with your own passions, there are many ways to get involved and join the journey:
Wine drinker? You can purchase Going Places while also supporting TFFT- grandcoeurwines.com/domesticproducer
Crafty? During February of each year, we ask our TFFT Family to make Valentines for our scholars in Tanzania
Fitness, sports, and competition your thing? Sign up to be part of service through sport on @teamtfft and our peer-to-peer fundraising platform teamtfft.org. People in the US can run, bike, or hike to advocate on behalf of our work. October we have a group climbing Kilimanjaro, November, a group running NYC Marathon, other running events in 2020, an annual Kickball tournament next Spring, and a Bike Adventure in Tanzania July 2020! Want to change the life of one child?
Sponsor a Scholar today! thefoundationfortomorrow.org/sponsor-a-scholar/
Connecter? They are always looking beyond just donors, to doers and door-openers. If you are the type that loves to connect people and use your voice as an influence, please do let me know!
Tell us more about Team TFFT.
Team TFFT channels the energy of sport to ignite change through The Foundation For Tomorrow’s work. United in support of TFFT, athletes raise funds that ensure a lasting, measurable, and positive impact on the educational opportunities of Tanzanian youth, their trajectory in life, and their contribution to their own communities. We have many Team TFFT events, such as RIDETZ, a Kilimanjaro Climb, and different marathons across the world. However, you don't have to be an athlete to be part of Team TFFT. It is also used as a platform for fundraising for TFFT in whichever way suits your interests and personal preferences.
You and your husband will be running the New York City Marathon and each of you have your own goals for this event. Can you tell us more about that?
I want to beat 4 hours, so that is my time goal. I am also trying to raise $5,000 in support of our work. My husband is a retired NFL player, and he is trying to become the fastest ever NFL player to finish the marathon. I think he intends to be closer to 3:30, and he also wants to raise $5,000 to support the work TFFT does for teachers and students in Tanzania.
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