Monday, July 30, 2012

Photo Opps Galore

They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, and I am truly hoping that this is the case today.  The Toa Nafasi Project continues to thrive, but at a decidedly slower pace than I am accustomed to or had expected.  Implementation is still a long way off as we are just in the process of registration both in Tanzania and in the United States.  In a few short weeks, I will head back to New York to finish my paperwork for the IRS (lawyers) and to revise my logic model, SWOT analysis, and general timeline of activities based on my findings from this trip (consultants).  Still, since I’ve been in Tanzania this go-around, we have managed to accomplish a lot, namely setting up a board of directors, appointing a few employees, garnering community support, filing papers at the district and regional levels, and getting in the door at the Social Welfare Office in Dar to register at the national level.  That’s where we are a bit stymied at the moment however.  It seems that this time of year is a tough one to get the attention of government authorities as the new fiscal year has just begun and, in fact, 2012-2013 in particular is a doozy.  The two main political parties (and everyone in between) are arguing about the disbursement of funds for the national budget, which places a heavy emphasis on expenditures and much less on actual development activities.  It also carries loaded meaning for NGOs, which the government now wants to tax unless they are religiously affiliated – perhaps I should consider changing my name to The Hillel Project??  That said, I am still hoping that, before I go, I will receive the two most important documents needed for The Toa Nafasi Project to begin work in January 2013: the Certificate of Registration and the Certificate of Compliance.  And as I sit by and squirm with anticipation and anxiety, I can just hear Baba Ngowi’s voice saying with baba-like authority, “We’ll see to it.”  Indeed.
In the meantime….pictures!  I was able to locate a bunch of photos of Msaranga by poaching the Facebook pages of some friends who came to visit me in 2010 and 2011.  Any further back is not particularly useful since those kids are practically in college now (though I myself somehow have managed not to have aged a day!)  But I think you can get a good idea of the environment, the people, and the general way of life in this small village in the foothills of Mt. Kilimanjaro where I have been ingratiating myself for the past five years.  Enjoy!
Here are a few shots of me teaching at the nursery school at the Pentecostal church where I work with Mwalimu Vumi.


And some of the kids doing kid-like things such as picking pencils and rollin' with their homies.

The materials they have available are pretty rudimentary to say the least (razor blades as pencil sharpeners which the kids promptly put in their mouths??  Western parents would have conniption fits!!)

These are my famous “herufi” cards.  Herufi basically means “syllable” in Swahili, which is a phonetic language.  Everything is a, e, i, o, u followed by ba, be, bi, bo, bu and cha, che, chi, cho, chu and so on.  In order to help the kids discern the different sounds and associate them with the letters (reading skills), I devised a lesson plan where I pick simple and common Swahili words (for instance, kidole meaning “finger”) and then they have to find the herufi ki, the herufi do, and the herufi le and put them in proper order to spell the word.  They do it in teams so it’s more participatory and the competition spurs them on.  The stronger students are also able to help the weaker students.  Plus, they love anything they can put their grubby little hands on and squeeze and chew and demolish, so it’s great fun for everyone.

This bibi (grandmother) works at the school cleaning the grounds and making uji (porridge) and I think she is utterly amazed that I still come round.

Of course, recess is the best part of any school day….

As is walking home knowing Mama is waiting with lunch….

It’s also fun when visitors come and want to take your picture (as opposed to Mwalimu Vumi and Mwalimu Sarah who are just ruthless taskmasters!!)

Here are some shots of the village itself as you walk through.  As I once remarked on Legally Tanzanian, I always feel a bit like Indiana Jones when I go out there.  There’s monkeys swinging from the trees, goats bleating in the near distance, and always a chicken somewhere within foot’s reach.  You sometimes wonder if you’re going to accidentally trip a switch and a giant stone ball is going to roll out at you or an ancient aboriginal tribe is awaiting you round the next bend, machetes drawn.

And last but not least, the soccer field at Msaranga Primary School where The Toa Nafasi Project will begin implementation hopefully next year.  Lots of my former nursery students attend this school and love to pass the ball to me on my way by.  Hence, the perpetual red tinge of my Converse!

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