Our News

Helping Our Neighbors                                                                                           September 2017

Photo by Paul Joyson-Hicks

The Girls Center is, in fact, more than a safe girls space; our students think of it as theirs. A home where they live, study, cook, and form life-long bonds with each another. They spend 2-6 months during their school vacations and Gap Years at The Girls Center.

TGFT students enjoy sharing what they’ve learned at school and in TGFT workshops with our Women’s Savings Group which meets twice a month at The Girls Center. The women’s stories of their challenges in providing for their children are familiar stories to our students whose own families are also struggling. 

During TGFT’s Leadership Workshops we hire Mama Anna to cook meals for us. She is an active member of TGFT’s Women’s Savings Group and a single mother with four children. She sells fried bananas to passersby on the street.


Until recently, Mama Anna lived across the street from The Girls Center until her home became uninhabitable when her landlord refused to make repairs. She was given a loan of $45 from the Women’s Savings Group in order to move. After we paid her for cooking meals for us, she turned to Grace, our House Manager and Treasurer of the Women’s Savings Group and gave her earnings to repay her loan promptly.

Mama Anna’s daughter Anna is enrolled in our After-School Program. Every day Anna collects our food scraps for her mother who exchanges with her neighbor, a farmer who owns a cow, for 1 and 1/2 liters of milk.  


TGFT students volunteer at our After-School Program at The Little Library where 45 primary school students study every afternoon and on Saturdays. TGFT students know how challenging it is to study when you don’t own your own text books.
Several TGFT students have tutored Joseph, a 7th grader: and all of us recognize how smart he is. On a recent test, Joseph scored 94% in English and a 92% in Math. Joseph never knew his father and two years ago his mother left him with a neighbor, who is a single mother who never spends the night at home. We’ve recommended Joseph to another organization to provide him the financial support he needs to matriculate to secondary school.
Our students and our neighbors don’t have much however, they feel a kinship and responsibility to one another. At The Girls Center we are providing support and resources, while TGFT students are helping others. By ‘passing it forward’, they are gaining experiences to develop self-reliance.


Storytelling, Debating and Saving for the Future                                             August 2017


Photo by Paul Joyson-Hicks

It’s been quite a summer at The Girls Center with educational programs galore keeping our girls busy during their school vacation.
During our June Enrichment Program students developed their leadership style through storytelling; opened up student savings accounts; and started vegetable gardens and composting at The Girls Center.
Photo by Paul Joyson-Hicks
TGFT collaborated with Resonate to host a 5-day ‘Storytelling for Leadership’ workshop for 25 students including TGFT girls and students from other schools. 
During this workshop students learned to speak confidently and publicly. The trainers helped students identify their own personal core values to inform their stories. They connected with the students with their coaching, encouragement, and fantastic music!
After the workshop Hellen, a TGFT student remarked, “I am really glad to have learnt how to properly tell my story of self and adapt it depending on my audience. I realized that a good story is not enough by itself, but the inspiring part of it lies in how it is told.” An impressive observation from a 16-year-old! 
Resonate trainer with TGFT students
Gertrude also enjoyed the workshop. She told me “When we were developing our stories of self, I looked back to my past challenges and how I overcame them, and really felt proud of myself. And also, I am a naturally outspoken person and tend to talk too much, but through this workshop I learned how to only tell the most important and relevant parts of my story.”  Clearly Resonate’s workshop had a positive, empowering impact on our students, boosting their confidence and giving them skills as storytellers.
TGFT also collaborated with ECHO East Africa. Their team helped us establish a compost pile--by layering branches, soil, manure, and ashes from our charcoal cooker—and a vegetable garden, using recycled tires and flour sacks. ECHO taught us about new plants, and the value of collecting and saving seeds.
Twelve of our students opened up student savings accounts at Meru Community Bank. TGFT families contribute $22 a term for their daughter’s required pocket money at boarding school. Ewaldina, our fiscal conservative, is saving her pocket money to buy a computer once she gets to university! Our morning at the bank was a valuable learning experience for all the girls—in particular the five who had never been to a bank!
We also held two debates: the first on whether all-girls schools are better than coed schools. The second debate was whether students entering high school should be tested for HIV. The girls love debating: even our quietest girls surprise us as they speak up passionately and fiercely. After each debate Estahappy, our Executive Director, provides accurate information to dismiss any myths the girls have used in their speeches.
We are so proud of our students who are learning how to articulate themselves in the world, inspiring others and making a difference in school, at home and in our community.
Photo by Paul Joyson-Hicks
Taking the Next Steps                                                                                        June 2017
In May TGFT conducted our Next Steps Admissions Workshop for high school graduates to provide information on how to apply to university. The students recently graduated from Orkeeswa Secondary, Mariado Secondary, Ifunda Secondary, and Mpanda Girls Secondary.   
They radiated intelligence, energy, talent and purpose, however the students knew very little about the requirements and challenges in applying to and attending university.  
Applying to university in Tanzania is a multi-step online process. None of these students had active personal email accounts. During the workshop, all assignments were sent by email for practice on sending/receiving emails.

Without role models who attended university or any guidance counseling at high school, it is a great mystery for these students what the potential expenses will be and what to study for future marketable skills. For example, none of the students understood that a government student loan is NOT free.

We set up several telephone conversations with current university students who shared their own experiences and hardships at university. We also initiated a WhatsApp group for the students to support one another and to find solutions.

TGFT’s Next Steps Admission Workshop provided information and encouragement and identified strategies for success for the next generation of teachers, business women, lawyers, journalists, pharmacists, lab technicians and nurses in Tanzania.



A Mother's Smile Is Great; A Daughter's Smile Is Greater!                             May 2017

Our students are so proud of their mothers who are so proud of their daughters and their achievements at school.

TGFT mothers recognized their daughters’ curiosity, intelligence and raw talent: they continue to encourage their daughters to learn how to learn in new ways and to strive to do their best.


With a TGFT sponsorship our students are excelling at school, in their internships and at university because they know their dreams matter. 

With hard work, determination and grit, TGFT students are succeeding in school and are touching the lives of their mothers, families and communities by sharing new ideas and new skills they’re learning both at school and at The Girls Center.
Who Inspires You On Women's Day?                                                                   March 2017
Estahappy is making the world better, brighter and bolder for all of us at The Girls Center.  Her wit and candor and gentleness and wisdom is part of her charm. She smiles often, makes friends easily and lights up the room.
She cares deeply about her community and the importance of education. She has identified and is mentoring:
·smart, deserving girls who we are sponsoring in secondary and high school and university;
·8- 10 year olds who want tutoring in Math and English after school at our Little Library;
·high school graduates who need information on how to apply and plan for college and university;
·ambitious women who are starting small businesses, earning and saving money to pay for their children’s school fees.
As our Director of The Girls Foundation of Tanzania, Estahappy’s willingness to serve those in need sends a message of hope. She inspires us to learn new ideas, work together as a team, and to ask each other “What does your future look like?”  “How will you get there?” “How can we help?”
Thank you Estahappy for bringing all of us together and for dedicating your energy to solving problems for others!
Giving It Their All                                                                                                     February 2017
TGFT invests in girls’ education, partnering with each girl to provide her with invaluable experiences inside and outside of school. Three of TGFT students are now young women studying at university. They are the first in their families to achieve this remarkable goal in a country where 5% of girls attend secondary school. Each of them comes from a large family: their parents and grandparents are farmers growing corn and beans to provide for their children and grandchildren.
  Mariam is studying accounting at the Institute of Financial Management in Dar es Salaam. During school vacations, she has interned three times at Meru Community Bank while living at The Girls Center. Mariam wants to be a banker, an accountant or a businesswoman. She is becoming a savvy entrepreneur selling cell phone minutes to her classmates who prefer the convenience of purchasing minutes from her rather than going to a store.


Nano, Mary, Melanie (10th grade student), Finyuely, and Estahappy at Mwenge Catholic University

In December, we visited Finyuely and Mary who are studying at Mwenge Catholic University in Moshi. They were so proud to show off their university and the room they share together. They have been best friends since 8th grade and I think sometimes they pinch themselves to believe how far they’ve come. Finyuely wants to be a Science or Math high school teacher, a profession which perfectly fits her passion and spiritedness. In February Finyuely and Mary began teaching at a local government secondary school for 5 weeks during their semester break, an integral part of their teacher training. Despite their long days of teaching, their commute from The Girls Center to their school, and preparing their daily lesson plans, their positive experience as student teachers is preparing them to become competent teachers.
  During her Gap Year at The Girls Center Mary interned at Arusha Women’s Hospital which reinforced her dream to become a doctor. TGFT challenges and engages our students to develop realistic goals for 21st century jobs after graduation. So, Mary is also interested in becoming a pharmacist or a science high school teacher. 
These TGFT students are generously supported through scholarships from Moyo International which provides support for women’s economic development, education and access to legal justice in Tanzania.
Our students aregaining skills, knowledge and confidence they need to thrive as leaders at home and in their communities.



Back To School: Our Students Cant Wait To Learn!                                           January 2017

Our girls are excited and proud to be attending school as TGFT students equipped with all their school supplies for the new academic year. 
  We are now sponsoring 3 new promising academic and vulnerable girls who are beginning 8th grade in boarding school.
In December, we visited Happy’s home where she lives with her father, stepmother and 4 siblings in one room. She wants to be a doctor, or an engineer, or a pilot. For 14 year old Happy---the sky is the limit!
We also visited Melanie’s home place. Melanie, the youngest of 7 siblings, lives with her parents and siblings in the foothills of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Melanie starts 10th grade and has been consistently ranked the #1 top student in her class of 118 students.
During our December Leadership Workshop at The Girls Center we invited students from other schools to participate. 24 girls learned communication and self-awareness skills: identifying what influences our feelings and our emotions; unhelpful thinking styles, and strategies on handling stress, sadness and anxiety. 
A big thank you to the law firm Verrill Dana of Portland, Maine for their donation of 8 laptops to The Girls Center. Our students love the challenges of the Mavis Beacon Typing Program.
We thank all our generous donors in 2016- we couldn’t do our work without your support! We will continue in this New Year to provide our students with a high-quality education in and out of school, the resources and emotional support they need to excel and be positive role models in school, at home and at The Girls Center. 


She's The First                                                                                             November 2016

Congratulations to Mary and Finyueli on their graduation from high school! Their graduation ceremonies were cancelled at their schools because of a cholera outbreak, so we gave them a graduation party for their families at The Girls Center. 
After their graduation Mary and Fin spent 5 months at The Girls Center in our Next Steps Program interning at a hospital and school, tutoring at our After School program for primary school students as well as learning from our intern Mika how to sew clothes on a sewing machine!
Mary and Finyueli started their first year as university students at Mwenge Catholic University in October. They are the first in their families to attend university. Mary is one of 6 children and Finyueli one of 5 children. Both their parents finished school in 7th grade and are farmers, selling maize and beans at the local market, struggling to support their large families.  
It is a great achievement for a Tanzanian woman to study at university, especially our students whose families struggled to pay for their daughters’ school fees during primary school. Girls’ education has a huge impact on society. Girls with higher levels of education will delay marriage, have fewer children and are more likely to invest in their family and community. Every year girls stay in school their income will increase by 20%.
Congratulations to Mary and Finyueli who are studying to become high school science teachers!

We Celebrate Girls Every Day At The Girls Center!                                             October 2016

Today, on International Day of the Girl Child, TGFT wants to thank all of you for helping us promote girls’ education. Girls are our future.

What counts for girls? Going to and staying in school. 

Our students attend the best girls private Tanzanian boarding schools. They share what they’ve learned with their mothers, aunts, sisters and friends and give back in their communities-

as tutors for our After School Program


as volunteers in local government primary schools


as interns at a local women’s hospital


as public speakers


They dream of becoming teachers, accountants, businesswomen, lab technicians and doctors: and TGFT is giving them skills and opportunities, instilling their confidence and kindling their competency.



Girls Learn New Skills For Their Future Financial and Health Decisions           September 2016

38 secondary and high school students participated in our 5th Leadership Workshop and learned about how banks work. Most students thought that only rich people save their money in banks. Students asked how ATM’s work and if you communicate with an ATM by writing it a letter. They wanted to know why banks are only in cities, and not in villages.

Students performed skits as a ‘saver’, a ‘borrower’ and ‘a bank’ to introduce the concept of ‘capital’, how banks make money, and the obligations of student university loans.


They brainstormed expenses for a year of education for a secondary school student, a high school student, and a university student.

They reviewed their budgets to identify what a ‘want’ is and a ‘need’ in order to reduce a deficit.

They reviewed their budgets to identify what a ‘want’ is and a ‘need’ in order to reduce a deficit. They debated passionately about the benefits of spending NOW or saving for the UNEXPECTED or saving for the FUTURE.  

During the Leadership workshop the students continued our self-defense training sessions to develop a plan to avoid harassment in the streets.

  The students reviewed menstrual hygiene and designed pocket calendars to keep track of their cycle and discussed how sexually transmitted diseases are transmitted.


The students developed new planning skills and how to protect themselves from STI’s and learned the basics of money and its impact; all of which will give them independence in their future financial and health decisions.



Happy Mother's Day!                                                                             May 2016



                                          Dorcas and her Mother

Dorcas’s mother has always encouraged Dorcas to dream bigger. We are encouraging her too by answering her real questions so she can make informed decisions about her future and become the leader she’s meant to be.
When Dorcas first arrived at the Girls Center she burst into our lives like a puppy-rambunctious, funny and squeezable. 

                 Dorcas at home, age 14

Now at 17 and in 10th grade, Dorcas is a member of the business club at school and wants to become a businesswoman. She has learned about personal hygiene, adolescent sexual and reproductive health, self-defense and entrepreneurial skills during our Enrichment Programs at the Girls Center.
Someday Dorcas wants to become a mother and is confident she will choose when and who to marry, and how many children she wants. But first, Dorcas wants to finish high school, attend college, find a job so she can support herself, help her family and give back to her girls’ community.
On Mother’s Day we honor mothers around the world who inspire their daughters to dream bigger and to develop their potential! 
Torrential Rains + Optimism + A Stroke of Luck = Change            April 2016
After 3 days and nights of torrential rains in March, our Girls Center was flooded with 3 feet of water. No one was hurt however, we lost computer hard drives, books, notebooks, clothing as well as some of our chickens and chicken feed we were storing for our Women’s Savings & Loan Group. When the water became contaminated, we had no choice but to find a new location.
                     Last week we moved into a beautiful new house!
Our new Girls Center is in our same neighborhood within walking distance of Intel Primary School who we partner with.Our students volunteer in their classrooms and several of our students graduated from Intel.
We’d also like to welcome our newest Board member Laisee Rintel who has launched TGFT on Instagram and Twitter. Follow us! And come visit us at our new home!


International Women's Day                                                       March 2016

In honor of International Women’s Day we celebrate Dada Grace and her determination, her ‘sparkle’ and energy, which inspires all of us to think of others and how we can be helpful.
Grace’s smile lights up a room: she is wise beyond her years, warm, and nurturing in so many ways. As our Supervisor at our Girls Center, she works closely with our Director Estahappy and recently, they’ve welcomed children and women in our neighborhood and are teaching them new skills.

Our girls respect Grace as a mentor and confide in her as an older sister -a ‘Dada’- and friend. By establishing a strong girl-adult partnership with each girl, Grace is helping to build their self esteem. While our girls are learning to speak and read English fluently, Grace is also studying and improving her English skills.
Grace grew up in similar circumstances of our students. Both her parents are farmers who grow maize, beans, cabbages and tomatoes. They also own 12 chickens, 3 goats and a cow. Grace understands the challenges her family faced when sending Grace and her two sisters to school. Grace wants to be a pre-school teacher and own her own day care center.
A year ago, Grace saved her salary in order to attend a Montessori Teacher’s College. Grace is now fulfilling the practical field work for her degree and teaching at a preschool, next to our Girls Center, where there are fifty 4 and 5 year-old students.
Grace initiated a Children’s Study Group at our Girls Center. Twenty-five students from 1st- 5th grade study with her after school every day. She is helping them reach and read at their grade level so they will shift from ‘learning to read to reading to learn’.
In September TGFT initiated a Women’s Savings & Loans group of which Grace is a member. As Treasurer, she has taught the women how to keep accurate records of their savings. The first four loans given to members were to pay for their children’s school fees. 7 of the women are sending their children to our Children’s Study Group.
So many of the skills we are teaching our students, Grace demonstrates by her example with her strong work ethic and cheerfulness. Grace brings dignity to her work and showers all of us with her great sense of humor and enthusiasm!

Girls Are Entrepreneurs                                                            September 2015

In June 5 of our students attended Babson College's 5-day BELA workshop (Babson Entrepreneurial Leadership Academy) with 100 other high school students. They learned about the 5 P's (production, people, place, price, promotion) as well as accounting and finances.

In June 5 of our students attended Babson College's 5-day BELA workshop (Babson Entrepreneurial Leadership Academy) with 100 other high school students. They learned about the 5 P's (production, people, place, price, promotion) as well as accounting and finances.

The facilitator complimented our students: "They were stars and it was easy to see how advanced they have become based on the support that you have provided them. From the strength of their English to their love of learning to their social skills, they stood out."  

Girls Are Problem-Solvers

7 of our students attended TWENDE's Creative Capacity building workshop. None of them had held hammers, tri squares, pliers, tin snips or wire cutters before.

  While working pairs they measured, cut, bent and hammered to create their own corn sheller, which they later gave to their families to use.

The students were introduced to the design process and projects done at TWENDE to inspire innovation. Then students were asked what kind of tools they wished they had in their daily lives and came up with their own practical solutions - a vegetable chopper and a peanut grinder which they built.

Our Summer Activities: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle       September 2015

During our Leadership workshop students learned about environmental challendges and how each of us can make a difference. High-achieving students from Arusha Girls High School and Henry Gogarty Girls' Secondary School joined us.

During the week, several speakers discussed environmental problems including climate change, soil erosion, deforestation, industry pollution, carbon emissions, methane gas, and rising sea levels, poaching in the Serengeti and blast fishing in Zanzibar and how each of these factors has a negative impact on Tanzania's economy, productivity and health.

From the local staff of Jane Goodall's program, Roots and Shoots, we learned how to plant a keyhole kitchen garden and fruit trees at The Girls Center.

When building the garden the students added leaves, compost and chicken manure to enrich the soil. They built a column of rocks in the center of the garden which filters grey water waste. Now our students pour their soapy laundry water down the rocks to water the garden.

Rachel Musson, an English teacher, activist and Founder of ThoughtBox, an innovative curriculum based on critical thinking skills, challenged the students to think about their personal impact on the environment.

One exerceise changed how the students think about garbage. They identified how long everyday items, such as a plastic bottle, take to decompose after you throw it away. Now we are recycling at The Girls Center!

Students created art out of garbage in their upcycle projects. They had so much fun creating magical hats and purses out of plastic bags, flip-flops from cardboard, jewelry, plastic flowers, and decorative art objects.

Merina Edwin, Director of Global Sustainable Partnerships discussed the importance of personal hygiene and clean water. Merina also shared her career path and life story, encouragin the students to focus on how to achieve their educational dreams. Merina emphasized how important it is to make a plan because "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." Merina presented a cake for the students on graduation day.

Pascalina's Gap Year at The Girls Center                                           July 2015

After students graduate from secondary school (11th grade) in Tanzania, there is an 8-month gap before they matriculate into high school (12th and 13th grades). Most students return home and help their families with chores - fetching water, caring for their siblings, cooking. This is a vulnerable time for girls.

We also recognize significant "learning loss" occurs when students aren't in school. We've developed a Gap Year at The Girls Center to motivate and engage our students to learn new skills and develop leadership in their community.

  Pascalina volunteered at Intel Primary School as a part of our community service component of the Gap Year.
She graduated from an 8-week computer certification course, which gave her new skills and confidence to implement during her internship at Meru Community Bank. As a part of her internship, she received clients at the bank, created accounts for new clients, and prepared expense vouchers for staff.  

Pascalina is the 6th student we've sponsored in high school. In July she begins at Ifunda Girls High School and we wish her all the best!

Congratulations to Our First High School Graduate                         May 2015

On April 18th, Mariam graduated from A levels (equivalent to high school in the U.S.) at Baobab Girls School. She was awarded the prize for the Best Student in Accountancy! We are so proud of her academic success!

  Mariam wants to become an accountant or a business woman. During her Gap Year she interned at Meru Community Bank and gained skills in accounting, record-keeping, and setting up savings and checking accounts.

Only 5% of girls graduate from high school in Tanzania so Mariam's achievement is exceptional.

While at boarding school Mariam has received a quality education; at The Girls Center she has learned about reproductive health and life skills, which will equip her to make informed, healthy and positive decisions for a wiser future.

On International Women's Day We Celebrate a Role Model        March 2015

In January, Faith Khumalo, currently a senior at Smith College, volunteered with us at The Girls Center. She grew up in Zimbabwe and understands the challenges our girls face in boarding school and at home. She instantly connected to the girls like an older sister.


Faith worked closely with the students to improve their computer and English skills and tutored one student who now "gets" mathematical induction! FAith shared her strategies on how to handle academic pressure and competition and the importance of goal setting and how to set realistic goals for yourself.

She trained the computer teachers at Henry Gogarty Girls Secondary School with a computer program called Raspberry Pi, which is a digital library that supplies its own wireless network that computers connect to as if it were Wifi. Faith synced their syllabi for math, chemistry, physics and biology, which enabled teachers to learn new ways of teaching and for students to review materials covered in class.

Faith inspired everyone she met in Tanzania with her joyfulness, curiosity, kindness and ambition!

Girls Empowerment: Our Bodies, Ourselves                          February 2015

In December, fifteen girls participated in a week-long workshop at The Girls Center. The presentations by several Tanzanian professionals focused on sexual and reproductive health and safety.

The subjects of puberty, menstruation, sexual abuse, family planning, healthy sexual relationships, and self-defense are rarely discussed in schools or within families, and the girls were eager to learn. The discussions were animated, the role-playing was enlightening, and the self-devense practice was empowering and fun. Thanks to the skill of the presenters and our Director, Estahappy Mariki, the girls felt comfortable asking important questions and sharing their thoughts about their bodies, sex, gender roles in society, and preventing andhandling unwanted sexual situations.


Lots of laughter helped dispel embarrassment and keep the girls engaged.

Mt. Kilimanjaro Climb for Girls' Education                            November 2014

In September Hildur Valsdottir, an Icelandic medical student studying in Norway, set a goal to climb Kili and to raise money for The Girls Foundaiton of Tanzania.

Having researched various NGO's, she chose us because she believes in giving needy girls the educational opportunities we provide.

While studying in med school, working a full-time job, and working out to build up her endurance for the climb, Hildur also motivated her family, friends, colleagues and community in Norwary to donate and she raised $9,700.

  After her climb, Hildur visited our girls at Henry Gogarty Secondary School. They asked her a million questions about her Kili climb, studies, and life goals. Her energy, aspirations and activism are inspirational for all of us.

Thank you Hildur for your awesome contributions and your friendship!

Graduation Day                                                                              October 2014

Congratulations to our recent graduates!!

On October 18, Angela and Pascalina graduated from Form 4 at St. Theresa's Secondary School. Our Director Estahappy and the girls' families attended this memorable and joyous occasion. We are all so proud of their success in school!  

Next month Angela and Pascalina will take the Form 4 National Exams with all other Form 4 graduates from the entire country. Those who pass this exam will be awarded a Tanzanian High School Diploma, which is the minimum requirement for work and future educational opportunities. Girls who pass this national exam with very high grades will be eligible to move on to the A Levels (Advanced Level program), which can then lead to university.

Angela (pictured) won the school award for best student in Geography.

Thanks to your support, young girls are focusing on their studies, learning about the world and defining their passion.

Learning for Life and Leadership                                                       June 2014

TGFT initiated our first 5-day "Learning for Life and Leadership" course on the campus of Henry Gogarty Secondary School, a highly ranked private Tanzanian boarding school with whom we are parnering. Twenty-three girls participated: 10 TGFT girls and 13 visiting scholars who are students at Henry Gogarty.


Fourteen professionals, 11 of whom were Tanzanian women, shared their life stories, illistrating that while educational paths, career coices, and individual challenges vary, hard work and a supportive network can lead to a rewarding future.

A nurse and a doctor discussed hygiene, menstruation, UTIs and STDs/

A university student discussed her studies and her role as a UN volunteer.

Three teachers discussed se