This lovely young lady is Jennifer Joseph. She was 8 years old in 2011 when we learned of her from a good friend who helps run an orphanage in Moshi, Tanzania. Jeni is from the Boma area of the country, and has no siblings. We do not know the exact cause of the death of her parents but believe it was HIV related, as are many of the deaths in the region. The orphanage tells us that she is a most elegant young lady and takes great care in choosing her clothes and shoes making sure that things match. This and the way she walks and carries herself make all of us think that she is going to be a model some day. She is also one of the top students, finishing seventh in her class of 120 at the end of first grade.
In her most recent grade report from the end of the school year in 2012, Jeni ranks 45 out of 104, with a B average. She’s doing really well, and we’re very proud of her! A Christmas letter from 2012 can be read here.
We have accepted Jeni for a post-secondary scholarship to attend Jordan University College to study as an Educational Technician with Religious Studies. She wrote the most beautiful answers for her post-secondary application, and we have included them here for you to read. As one of her letters of recommendation explained, supportive teachers are rare in Tanzania. Questions are usually seen as challenges, and learning is rote at best. Jeni wants to be the kind of teacher that supports her students and makes them feel like they can learn and succeed. We are so delighted that she is moving towards her future with such a clear idea of what she needs to do in her life, and to help her community.
Jeni is off to teaching college! She is very excited and happy to be starting on her future. And we couldn’t be happier for her. We hope she will be successful there, and learn everything she needs. She will be a wonderful teacher, of that we are certain.
JULY and AUGUST
Shannon was able to visit with Jeni earlier in the year, and she tells us that Jeni still wants to be a teacher, and has applied for a program to get a teaching certificate for early childhood education. Then she wants to do primary school education. She has been accepted to Jordan University in Morogoro (a few hours north of Moshi) in the teaching program and she will be entering school in October!
While she waited for placement in school, she helped at an orphanage run by a friend of Greg and Shannon’s. She was working with Happiness, another young woman from the original orphanage where she lived in Moshi. Then, she moved in with Agness, also from the original orphanage, near Moshi and took a computer class. Now she waits to enter her school, and she lstill ives with Agness, so she has friends and family around her.
Jeni seems really happy with her current plans and her future path, so we are really happy for her, and can’t wait to see how everything goes for her. She’ll make an excellent preschool and primary school teacher!
Since Jeni passed her Form 4 exam, but not with high enough grades to continue on into Form 5, Greg and Shannon are thinking that she might be able to enter teaching school, to become a primary school teacher. We all think this is a fantastic path for her to take; Jeni is a lovely and very sweet and smart girl, but she is very shy. Teaching primary school students would be the perfect place for her talents. We’d like to see if she can be accepted into the Montessori training program. School in Tanzania is very hard on many students; corporal punishment is common, rote memorization and repetition are the standard, and students are not encouraged to ask questions of the teacher. In fact, it is discouraged. There is no one on one time for students who might need extra help, and the system simply leaves behind many students who don’t fit within the confines of the program. We feel as though Jeni was one of those left behind. With a different educational system, she would have succeeded. Montessori training gives teachers a different view of students and of education, and we think Jeni would do well there, and be an excellent Montessori teacher. We hope that she will be able to enter a training program. We will keep everyone updated, but for now we are very proud of Jeni having done well enough on her exam to be able to look into a career such as this.
Jeni J. received the results from her Form 4 exams, and she did well enough to be able to move on! She scored into Division 4, which will allow her to continue studying in what we would call a trade or vocational school. Right now she is studying with Jeni A. and Winnie in “bridge” classes to keep her busy until she moves into her next steps. Greg and Shannon think that she might end up qualifying for teaching grade school, which would be a good niche for her. She is very bright, but also very shy, and teaching little children would be an excellent opportunity. If she is able to get into one of these programs it can also be used as a bridge to take further studies afterwards. Whatever it will mean it will be a big change for Jeni as she will be most likely striking out on her own. We are sure that is frightening for her (and us!) but they are all growing up and it will have to happen at some point.
Jenifer Joseph has entered Form 4, and this year will be a big effort for her. She is so shy that it is often hard to understand what is wrong, but Shannon learned from her and from Jeni Anselm why she has trouble in school. Shannon says that the teachers mean well but they tease and point out mistakes publicly. This is mortifying to quiet Jeni. Shannon says that she did well when one of the priests who would quietly explain and answer questions was there. We hope that she will still do OK, and do well on her Form 4 national exam. Shannon and Greg hope that we can all come up with some sort of solution once she takes her exam. We will see how she does. She’s such a sweetheart and just so shy that it is hard for her to stand up for herself. We know she can accomplish what she needs to with the right support and help.
Jeni is struggling in school, and her grades have slipped quite a bit. We are very sorry to hear this, and are trying to work with our contacts Greg and Shannon to see how we might be able to help. As ever, she takes all of this with her usual sweet demeanor, and we hope that she will find her way and thrive in school.
We are so very proud of Jeni Joseph. She turned 15 this year and she is just growing into a wonderful young woman. She has always struggled with school a little, but she is doing so much better in her high school than she did in primary school in Moshi. Being out of the orphanage really helps as well. She has more confidence and initiative than she did when she lived there. The best testament of this that we can ever imagine is her results from her Form 2 national exams. Her initial practice scores were not so good but she was convinced she did better than that on her actual exam and she was right! She made Division 2, which puts her in the top 10% of all students in the country! So we could not be prouder of her and her efforts. She moves on to Form 3 in style!
We have news that Jeni is doing well, and is really happy at school. Greg and Shannon were able to visit her, and send us some pictures and a letter from her.
JUNE and JULY
Jeni is really growing up fast! She’s become a lovely young woman now. We hear that she is doing well in school, and that she is enjoying herself so much more than at her past school. She had to go get glasses recently, and we received some pictures of her from that day. She doesn’t look too excited, but how many people do with that contraption on their heads?
Jeni is loving her new school, and she even says that her math teacher is her favorite teacher. That is something really amazing, since Jeni usually does NOT like math at all. When Shannon visited, she took some pictures, and Jeni just looks so happy and calm, much less nervous and scared than she was in the past couple of years at the orphanage. We are so excited to see how she does on her midterm exams!
Jeni is doing so well! We are simply delighted to hear this. Since she has left the orphanage, her grades have improved dramatically, and she has more confidence than ever before. She passed her exams to enter Form 1, and she will be joining Jeni Anselm at Mother Theresa in Mwanza, about 90 minutes from Moshi. It’s a girl’s boarding school, and a very good one, according to our friends Greg and Shannon. We simply couldn’t be happier for Jeni, and we are so glad to be supporting her once again!
In her final letter to us for 2016, we asked her what talent or gift she has that she felt she could offer to the world. Here is her beautifully decorated response. Jeni wants to become a fashion designer, and in her greatly improved English, she tells us that this is a very “big thing” and she can help people learn how to do it, how to put on fashion shows, and how to design things. She wants to start her own fashion show on a TV channel. We look forward to seeing that one day! Good luck in Form 1, Jeni!
It’s been a really hard year for all the girls in Moshi, especially for poor Jeni. She’s a very sensitive soul, and some serious upheavals in the orphanage really took their toll. At first she didn’t pass her classes at the end of 2015 to move up to Class Seven. Because of this, our contacts Greg and Shannon decided we shouldn’t provide a scholarship for the year. In the end, she was advanced to Class Seven, against Greg and Shannon’s better judgement. She’s been doing OK, but her living situation was really taking a toll on her. We learned in August of 2016 that she is finally out of the orphanage, thanks to a sister in Dar es Salaam who came to fight for her. She is now living with a local teacher near her school in Majengo, and Shannon tells us she is so much happier. She can sleep and study now, she is protected and encouraged, and her grades have already improved. She is studying for her Form One exams, which will determine if and where she can go to high school next year. We look forward to renewing our scholarship with her in 2017!
News from the beginning of 2015 is great! Jeni was allowed to move up to sixth grade, so now she has to work hard to study and make sure to ask questions and get help when she doesn’t understand something. Even though staying back a year might have helped her understand the content a little better, doing that can have such devastating results for the confidence of a sweet girl like Jeni that we are very happy she can stay with her friends and advance to sixth grade.
Jennifer Joseph is a lovely, sweet girl. She is elegant, small and very thin. She is shy but very loving and also very stylish. She loves to put on fashion shows, and is always very well put together. Jeni’s biggest challenge is that she is so sweet, and so quiet, that she often doesn’t get noticed. In school this translates to not asking questions or being noticed as needing help from the teachers. In study sessions with other kids, she lets the other students talk over her, ask questions in front of her, and essentially dominate the session. The result is that her grades have suffered this year, and she did not pass the fifth grade. When Christa went over her final exam, she found at least 10 questions that Jeni had answered correctly, but which had been wrongly graded. So this may mean that she passes into sixth grade after all. Christa had a long talk with Jeni, after her report card came out, in which we talked about her need to take care of herself and speak up in study session, get help individually, things like that. I assured her that we still care about her and she will receive her scholarship for next year, but that she has be sure that she gets help studying.
Jeni was part of a big dance performance at the school which they put together for Paola, a lovely German volunteer who had been living at the orphanage for 5 months, and was making a movie.
One day, I went to town with Jeni Joseph, Jeni Anselm and Reggie and we spent some time working on math, specifically long division, which they all find a bit challenging. While we were working on our math problems, I did a short interview of the three of them about school. When they talk about “stick,” they are referring to the fact that teachers will hit students with sticks when they are “misbehaving.” Unfortunately, this sometimes means simply asking questions. It’s not something we are used to in our schools here in this country, but it is standard procedure there and in many other countries.
With the help of our friend and contact Shannon, I was able to interview the girls about their lives and school. Unfortunately, I can’t figure out how to get the audio to work on the first half of the video, so here’s the second half! Even without the first half of the video, you can see their personalities shining through, and see how much their English has improved. When they started at St. Louis English Medium School, they hardly spoke any English at all. They are a little shy about it, but once you get them going, they are pretty irrepressible! Jeni is particularly shy, but we’re working on getting her to speak up a little more!