What does leadership really mean?

“When I began working at TST” Rehema told me over a hot cup of Chai, “I faced a lot of discrimination because of my limited schooling and qualifications. I had to prove to many people that I was capable of performing my role adequately as I grew within this organization. Tanzanians often believe that elders, males or those who possess higher certificates of education are more deserving of power in the work space and this belief made my daily interactions with people in the community very difficult at times! I almost gave up hope. I wasn’t used to conflict. You know, I nearly quit twice when people challenged me and said I wasn’t capable because I was a young woman! Haha! But TST pushed me to keep trying-- to keep growing--and that’s why I know I need to push other people on my team and in the community of Nkoaranga in the same way.

When I was first approached about a role on the outreach team I thought: I can’t learn anything. I can’t do this. I’m not qualified. I don’t have the education! But TST kept saying “You can.” And gave me opportunities. More importantly, TST believed. Bekka said over and over “You can do it! You can climb yourself! And now I realize that that is true-- if you just trust in who you are and what you can do, you really can climb yourself. TST empowers people who are driven and who are passionate. They don’t care about who you know, where you are from, or what connections you may have in the village. I love that.“

 “You know—Rehema reflected—“the other day I was speaking to a gardener who works here at TST. He told me that everyone assumes he is uneducated and unable to progress and better his circumstances just because he is a gardener. If he is a gardener, he must be dumb—they all say and they neglect him and dismiss his situation as hopeless. But I know from my own experience and from working with TST that all people need are a chance. TST believed in me. Bekka believed in me. She looked at passion, potential and education equally, and that meant everything. So I will do the same. And I will believe in him.”- Rehema


Everyday, we are asked to use external factors to measure our potential and our worth.  The commercial enterprise conditions us to think that we are merely the sum of how people perceive us -- our value too often defined by a rough sketch of our current circumstance, instead of by the tremendous potential that we all hold inside, just waiting to emerge with a bit of kindness and encouragement. TST’s role in the community -- through our various outreach programmes--is “to lift people up, not lower them down” and to break apart the damaging belief that anything is fixed in life—our dreams, the place we’ve rendered for ourselves in this world and even who we might dare to one day be. The future exists in a rich expanse of possibility, promise and constant change. 

To empower the community, we must continue to approach the world with a large heart, to say yes instead of no, to stand behind the amazing individuals we work with, and to let them know that we care for them, and that we believe in all that they do.

 HOW YOU CAN HELP INSPIRE FUTURE LEADERS:

Kili4Kids is a virtual running, walking and/or biking campaign that will take place over the duration of the summer. Our staff here in Meru have decided to sign up for a  70 mile virtual hike "up the slopes" of Mt Meru/Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania in order to get fit, have fun and support the community in which they live, work and grow.

 Local problems require local solutions and our emerging group of leaders work hard to strengthen Meru and to positively inspire the families and children we work with by providing the guidance, support, and gentle encouragement necessary to help individuals realize their potential, and achieve their goals.

 If you’d like to support Rehema and the TST team, monitor our progress or even connect with us direct, please click here! We appreciate your support!

No act - or person - is too small to make a difference!

You don't need to do something big to change the world - you don't even need to be big yourself! I want to share the stories of three amazing groups of kids who have been changing lives, by supporting children and families in need.  The future is bright! 

Our oldest group is the wonderful high school students at Cheshire High in Connecticut, who turned their May 4th Star Wars Day celebration into a "Force for Change" fundraiser! Student Sofia Valentin, second right, brought TST to the school's attention and spearheaded this effort. Students chipped in over $500, and we couldn't be prouder of all of their hard work. Thank you to Mrs. DiSorbo, Sofia, and the whole school for their support! 

Our middle group of students were led by a fantastic kid named David, who raised over $200 by himself. Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church in Meriden, CT, took on fundraising for the TST kids after a presentation and Skype session with the childrens village in 2016! They were so inspired that the entire religious school took us on as their charitable project, and it has been incredible to see how hard the kids have worked to make their impact on the world. 

Over the course of the year, they raised $1000, which will make a HUGE difference in our community. Thank you to David, AnneMarie, and the church and religious school leaders for teaching your kids such an important lesson about charity and purpose - and how no act is too small to make a difference. 

 

 

Our littlest group of helpers are getting an early start, at St. Ann's school in Brooklyn. Their lower school book sale raised over $200, mostly in dimes and quarters from excited and enthusiastic little world-changers!  

I couldn't be more proud and impressed by the efforts these kids have made, to help kids they have never met, just because they know, already, that it's the right thing to do. I can't wait to see them grow up and continue to flex their muscles to make the world a better place. The future is in good hands! 

Innovation, Social Enterprise and High Impact volunteering

Chris Hardwick--a talented craftsman & long-term volunteer who embodies the ethos of TST's mission-- has certainly made an impression on the community of Nkoaranga since his arrival in mid November! Thanks to Chris, a new studio aptly called "Speak to Us of Love" has emerged at the base of Mount Meru that teaches local students how to create jewelry and craft unlike anything seen prior in the Arusha region. His mentorship extends beyond the boundaries of pure technical skill and we have seen great excitement in the studio as he urges students to explore their creativity, to experiment and to take pride in the work they produce. Truly, we are grateful to host him.

Read a bit about his experience thus far, and learn how you can contribute, no matter where you are based in the world, below! 

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The idea of volunteering at the The Small Things that surfaced in April 2016 and involved me selling most of my possessions to fund the venture, has proven so far to be incredibly rewarding, challenging and fulfilling. Of course it has not been perfect, indeed a roller-coaster ride of joy, sadness, some tough days which have been so outweighed by such extraordinary people who have taken me into their hearts and show such love and respect to me.

I arrived at Kilimanjaro International Airport around mid-afternoon on November 18, 2016 with 89.7kg of luggage. Three suitcases packed with tools, metal (brass, copper, aluminum, titanium, and some silver, copper and brass wire) came off the airplane after a 26-hour journey.

Of the three cases only one attracted attention, the one with $AUD1000.00 of metal that was to provide material for the first months of the studio classes and opening the case provided a fabulous and insightful experience of Tanzania bureaucracy Some hours later after much laughter and bon homie, USD260.00 and a bulk packet of Kit Kat lighter, I joined Teressa and Emmanuel for the drive to The Small Things at Nkoaranga, Usa River, Arusha.

Early the next morning, we all piled into the bus for a bumpy trip to the Arusha Christmas Market where student work made under the tutelage of Reuben, was being presented to the purchasing public. I had also brought from Australia a heap of sterling silver jewellery, which went on the stall.

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Two days later a very exhausted Christopher had networked the whole market, made some valuable contacts, was offered a job teaching jewellery at the biggest International school and found cheese and Danish bread. The market was a great way to meet the folk who on the Monday were to become my students.

The tools that were in my luggage and the metal, aluminum, copper, brass and some titanium, I purchased before leaving Australia provided the means to start a class on Monday 21st November. Saw piercing was the initial lesson, cutting straight and then spirals and curves, then piercing out shapes, mind you the only hole making was done with a hammer and nail. Introducing the studio to the range of tools and then getting a chart done with their Swahili translations was a definite first perquisite. I also made the decision to provide funds for lunch for the students as most had obviously not eaten before they arrived and by lunchtime everyone was wilting, it made a huge difference and the bonds between us developed more quickly.

Everyday there are challenges as a clearer direction for the studio emerges and the different skills and abilities of each student start to become much clearer. Working and collaborating with Reuben has seen an incredible development in the students, Kaima, Godfrey, Mesheck, Juliette, Noela, Emmy and Maclenna. Within the first 2 weeks they were sawing backwards with a blade not much thicker than a horses hair.

It has been interesting observing various skill sets and inclinations surface with each student and learning how to encourage those various abilities. All around the Arusha area there are many examples of homogenized Tanzanian culture expressed in jewellery and we are seeking to stay true to the historical tropes yet develop wearable art that is quite distinctive and marketable.

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I would like to apologize that none of the work of each student has been individually attributes so you may follow the progress; the logistics are a bit of a nightmare after a long day of teaching. I will look for a system that may provide more of an individual display of each artists body of work.

The tools purchased from Cape Town, South Africa finally arrived, although it was after much angst, frustration and exasperation, very valuable lessons were learnt. These were important lessons, as most of the materials and tools for the studio will need to be sourced from outside Tanzania in the future. I am delighted to be meeting other smaller silversmith’s and jewelers in and around Arusha and they are quite excited about what we are doing through the Social Enterprise program at The Small Things in Nkoaranga. There is a long-term plan evolving that will provide a continuation and success of the jewellery school not simply as a teaching program, but also a manufacturing and design enterprise for wedding and engagement rings and contemporary, high quality Tanzanian jewellery.

Considerations are being given to opening a cooking school, a sewing school/manufacturing facility to make surf and casual wear using traditional Kitenge fabric, an art/history/theory/… class, drama, script writing classes and to have regular community concerts showcasing what is being done through the Social Enterprise program.

The ongoing support for The Small Things by you is appreciated and all endeavors of the jewellery school within the Social Enterprise program are geared towards healthy children, healthy families and healthy communities.

Asante Sana, Sana, Sana,

Babu Chris/Mr. Chris

To read more about his experience and the progress of the students enrolled in "Speak to Us of Love," visit Chris' blog here or check out his jewelry and craft page on facebook here

To get involved, no matter where you are based, be sure to check out some of our current volunteer and internship opportunities as well! Karibu (We welcome you)! 

#GivingTuesday: Why do you choose to give?

There are countless reasons to give, but one defining feature reflected in all giving is that we must decide for ourselves to participate. Giving is in no way compulsory. You may opt to donate time or resources because a cause resonates with you, because you seek external validation (don't we all in some form?) or simply - because you can, and because doing so signals to the world who you are and what you care about. In a time of darkness, your donations serve as a beacon of kindness, declaring that kindness always matters. 

 Asa Kelleher, a 10 year old student from Thetford, Vermont, recent visitor to our facility and new friend to all here at TST discusses his experience in Tanzania and shares with us why he personally chooses to give back!


Q:Can you tell me about the cookie fundraiser you ran to support TST? Why did you decide to organise this event and to give back?

A: I was very interested in TST when I first learned about it, and I really wanted to help kids at TST so that they could have the same lives as kids like me.

Q:Were there any moments that surprised you while in Tanzania?

A: Short answer, Yes. Long answer, I was very surprised at how much the children could run around and how much they liked to play with my family and I, probably because they do not get very many visitors. I also did not no they had such an amazing playground, or even that they had one.

Q:What was your favorite memory of visiting Tanzania? 

A: Probably TST because I have wanted to meet all of those amazing kids since I first learned about them. My favorite part of TST was either staying at Baba Gertrude's, whose house is like a mini hotel, or getting to meet all the kids.

 
Q:How would you like to stay involved?

A: I will still be sponsoring Johnson and might do more cookie sales and also hope to return one day to Tanzania and TST.

Q:What would you tell other people who are interested in The Small Things?

A: It is a very inspiring place that tries to keep kids and their family's together, It is also a very warm in lovely place for kids to stay if their family's can not keep them even if they just sped the days at TST and sleep at home with their family's. 

It was truly a pleasure for us to host Stephanie, Asa and Rori during their time here in Tanzania and we thank them for their continued contributions to our cause. Please help us continue to spread the word by sharing our campaign or donating here

 

 

Social Enterprise Spotlight!

It is with great excitement that we announce the launch of a new social enterprise initiative in Nkoaranga—a bead craft and jewelry production workshop!

Lead by our Outreach Coordinator Reuben and managed by Rehema, this program aims to teach vulnerable families and children of the Meru District skills that will help them form businesses and increase house-hold level income. Rehema and Reuben are pictured below—eagerly setting up shop!  

The new facility is located a few store-fronts away from TST HQ and has already been stocked with an array of beads, wire supplies and basic tools that our team will use to create wearable crafts and traditional Tanzanian jewelry.

Why Jewelry making?

TST holds tri-monthly meetings with all of the enrolled and graduated mamas of our family preservation programme. During these open forum discussions, the participants are encouraged to share best business practices, current challenges, possible resolutions and ideas for future growth. Our outreach team facilitates organic discussion on what has and hasn’t worked and uses this time to listen to the community and note any trending issues that we might be able to assist with.

Overall, these meetings are a great way to build rapport with local families and strengthen community bonds. Moreover, they are also an excellent time to collect feedback on our program and its progress and to record suggestions for future initiatives. After facilitating a few of these group discussions, we soon realized that many individuals expressed uniform interest in jewelry making!  Given this feedback, we decided to brainstorm how we might be able to actualize these rote requests into a reality for the entrepreneurs of Nkoaranga!

After discussing program possibilities at length with our team, management decided that we had the capacity to launch a new social enterprise initiative aligned with the majority of community requests we were fielding. Thus, a jewelry crafting workshop was conceived!

The new workshop will allow individuals to explore their interests and build creativity while creating rich crafts that will help increase house-hold level income and quality of life.

The first class was slated to occur on October 22nd and has eight students from our outreach program enrolled thus far. Priority was given to youth enrollment and the class is at its current capacity. We aim to provide this inaugural group of individuals with new skills, the opportunity to earn a higher income and moreover, an increased sense of confidence. As the program continues to grow, we hope to increase class size and eventually, separate learners into classes for beginner, intermediate and advanced skill levels!

Volunteer Support

In conjunction with this new program, we are delighted to welcome a talented craftsman & incoming TST volunteer who embodies the spirit and ethos of our mission.

Welcome Chris Hardwicke!

Given his extensive jewelry making experience, Chris will help guide and manage our new initiative as it evolves. He is scheduled to arrive on November 18th and will plan to stay with us for upward to a year assisting, training and working with our local staff. Chris brings with him years of experience, enthusiasm, supplies, tools, equipment and in kind donation material for the village of Nkoaranga to use during the first year of program development and beyond. We can’t hardly wait to see what kind of gorgeous crafts the community will create!