Monday, October 22, 2012

Wait for It

Okay, so these photos don't make much sense without the background story, but time is tight this week and I won't get around to a full-blown post until the weekend.  So, until then, just bear with me, enjoy the following randomness, and trust that it will all come together in the end!


Mwanzo (Beginning)

Kati (Middle)

Mwisho (End)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory

Again, from The Tanzania Daily News out of Dar es Salaam, attention was paid recently to those at the crossroads of education and disability.  Can I say the stars are aligning??  Check it out:

Special Seats Member of Parliament, Mrs. Alshaymaa Kwegyir, has said that educating people with disabilities in the country is a viable investment that will help in national development.

Mrs. Kwegyir made the comments when closing a 14-day assistive technology training for people with visual impairment at the Open University of Tanzania (OUT) that was sponsored by Sightsavers Tanzania.

She said that providing people with disabilities proper education will make them independent and be able to support themselves and their families.

"By giving people with disabilities handouts, it only makes them dependent and appear like a burden to society, but if we invest in educating them, then we will be making progress in efforts to bring development to our country," she said.

Speaking at the same occasion, Sightsavers Tanzania Project Manager, Mr. Enock Mangasini, said that the training this year follows a similar session as last year where fifteen people with visual impairment were trained on how to use Information and Communication Technology (ICT).

He said that it is heartening to see that this year, twenty-seven people were able to receive the training, noting that even more promising is the fact the trainers this year were those who themselves graduated in last year's training.

"This is promising and we hope that those who benefited from this year's program will go and spread the knowledge acquired far and wide," he said.  Mr. Mangasini was speaking on behalf of Sightsavers Tanzania Director, Dr. Ibrahim Kabole.

Sightsavers plans to train between 200 and 300 people with visual disabilities to be able use computers in the next four years.  The not-for-profit organization has pledged to continue supporting people with visual impairment by financing and providing equipment for three resource centers at Makalala Primary School in Mafinga, Iringa region, OUT and Tanzania League for the Blind (TLB) premises.

Graduates of the training program were also handed laptops fitted with assistive technology that best suit their needs as people with visual impairment.  Sightsavers promised to continue supporting similar training and called for other stakeholders to support the initiative.

OUT Vice Chancellor, Prof. Tolly Mbwette, said that this training and that of last year have been eye openers to many individuals that ICT is possible for visually impaired individuals.  "I am calling upon both national and international organizations to facilitate training like this one which have far reaching implications as they keep disability and persons with disabilities high on the agenda," he said.

In a speech read on his behalf by the OUT Deputy Vice Chancellor (Personnel), Prof. Martin Victor said such training helps society widen knowledge and understanding of disabilities and persons with disabilities in both training and using ICT services as well as get rid of stigmatization and negative attitudes towards people with disabilities.

In addition to OUT and TLB, the training was also supported by Tanzania Education Authority and Freedom Electronics dealers of Samsung products in the country.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

It's Official!

The Yankees have won the American League East....
....The Toa Nafasi Project is a bona fide 501c3 tax-exempt charitable organization!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Another Worthy Example....?

Is it possible that, so closely on the heels of my recent entry about inclusive education in Liberia, a school in Tanzania has followed suit?  And, if so, how amazeballs is that??!!  And even more amazeballs, if that is at all possible, is this quote from a disabled student at that school: disability is not inability.  I think I may have to bite that for Toa Nafasi's promotional materials.  Four very powerful words indeed.

From The Tanzania Daily News, a recent article reports the following regarding a government secondary school at which Mheshimiwa Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, the first president of Tanzania himself, once taught:

The Board Chairperson of Pugu Secondary School has promised to work on all challenges facing disabled students at the school.  Lieutenant Dr. Edward Masala mentioned some of the challenges as shortage of water, ill-equipped laboratory and library, and lack of facilities for disabled students.  The school has 65 disabled students.

"We have to provide them with good facilities to create an enabling and conducive learning environment for them like other students," he said.  Lieutenant Dr. Masala was giving his keynote address during a Form Four graduation ceremony held at the school on Thursday.  He commended the graduates for behaving well before sitting for their final examinations scheduled early October this year, calling upon them to avoid using mobile phones during class hours.  The headmaster of the school, Mr. Rukonge Mwero, said education was their heritage before urging them to thoroughly prepare for the coming exams.

One of the graduates, Ezekiel Mgaya (20), who is disabled, said he was happy to graduate because it shows that disability is not inability.  He urged the public to support disabled students in order to make themselves independent, something which will be beneficial not only to them but also to the nation at large.

A total of 107 students, three of them disabled, graduated yesterday.  Pugu Secondary School was among the most popular schools in the 1970s and 1980s, having produced prominent politicians and professionals including the former President Benjamin Mkapa.  The "Father of the Nation," the late Mwalimu Nyerere, also taught at the school.