New Life Foundation (NLF) began with $50 in the living room of Pastor Glorious and Mama Josephine Shoo. At first there were three students: one was epileptic, another was born premature, all three of them were underprivileged and had no means to receive an education. Pastor and Mama taught them from home each day with the help of a few friends with large hearts. The class grew to support 14 children, then 24, then 40, and then it turned time to find a schoolhouse.
The miracle of New Life is a gradual and heart-twisting story that should be put into a book. For the time being, however, I will skip to the present. Today NLF is the home to 485 students and 74 staffers. The main school is called Fountain of Hope. It consists of a primary school (grade 1 – grade 7) a secondary school (Form 1-4) and a high school (Form 5-6). Most students are about 14 years old when they graduate from grade 7. Each grade level at Fountain of Hope has between 30 and 40 students. Between grades 1 and 5, there is one homeroom teacher who teaches the class all day every day. Beginning in grade 6, the students receive an education from specialized teachers, for example a science teacher, a math teacher, and a Swahili teacher. The secondary school is on another campus. There are specialized teachers who teach all of the students, Forms 1-4, but they teach only one or two specific subjects. The high school is very small – it has two classes of about 8 students at the primary campus. These students have two teachers who are specialized in about three different subjects each. Forms 5 and 6 are comparable to junior and senior year of high school.
Then there is Fountain of Zoe, which is a secondary school for girls only. In Tanzania, when parents send their children to private school, they often prefer for their girls to receive schooling in a single-sex environment. Fountain of Zoe is one class of all girls in secondary. On the same campus as Fountain of Zoe is nursery school. Nursery school is comparable to American kindergarten; it is where the children go to draw and play and learn to read and write. There are two classes of about 25 kids, one for younger children, one for children who will enter Form 1 in the following year.
Finally, there is the Boma campus (Boma is the name of the city adjacent to Moshi) which is home to Fountain of Joy and Zoe Babies. Fountain of Joy is the vocational school for teenage mothers. The girls here learn how to sew, cook, and perform other activities that will help them sustain themselves after their two-year admission to the program is up. Fountain of Joy is next to Zoe babies because many of the girls’ babies are cared for at Zoe babies while the girls are at school. Zoe babies also takes in children who are completely abandoned. Often times their parents died, deserted them, or are completely crazy. In these cases, the children will be referred to New Life and admitted into Zoe babies to be brought up through New Life. Currently there are six babies in the nursery.
The last sector is Fountain of Love. This is an overarching branch because it is not a school system; rather it is an outreach branch. Fountain of Love crosses over all NLF schools to organize opportunities for NLF students to give back to the community. For example, there is a local juvenile prison that the NLF students often visit to offer companionship to the convicts.
The students have school from 7:30 in the morning to 4:00 in the afternoon. In the afternoons they play sports, study bible, and do homework. They sleep in dormitories on or near campus under the supervision of a staff member. They are fed breakfast, tea (snack), lunch, and dinner. Breakfast is usually porridge, tea is tea and bread, lunch is ugali or rice or macande with kale and beans and dinner is the same. On a good day there is cabbage with beef instead of beans. All of the food is reaped from the farmland. There are weeks where the students and staff harvest the plants instead of going to class.
About 30% of the students at New Life pay tuition. The other 70% are referred to the school by a relative, friend, or even stranger who recognizes the child as someone in need. In the fall, New Life administrators visit the homes to interview the children and their parents to determine if the child is a good match for New Life. They try to limit admission to 40 children a year and resist the temptation to receive every child.
The 70% who are highly intelligent children from low-income families receive sponsorship from donors globally. Families from New Zealand sponsor most children. America carries the second greatest number of sponsors, and Norway follows America.
From my point of view, three things best represent the miracle of NLF: the devotion of the staff, the intelligence of the students, and the moral integrity of the students. The staff often receives its meager pay months late, but still they devote their days and energy to the students. The student intelligence at New Life is notable not only on a spectator level, but on a national level. In a math competition this year, 7 of the top 10 finalists were NLF students. New Life climbed to be considered one of the top 100 schools in the country in a ground breaking ten years since its opening. Finally, the students are inspiring people. They are gentle and polite to visitors and love each other like family. I have never been in the presence of children who are so eager to learn, so respectful and appreciative of their teachers. New Life is a one of a kind place. Please keep up with my journey with this incredible organization through the blog feed!