Hello dear readers, and pole sana for the late post this week. I have been busy getting back into the swing of things work-wise and not had much time for blogging.
Here's a quick summation of what has transpired the past few weeks since I have been back in TZ:
1.) I had a nice meeting with Baba and Vumi about all that went on while I was in the U.S. and all that we are planning for the first few months of this year.
2.) Vumi and I went out to Kibosho to check in with Brenda at the Gabriella Centre on the results from the Week of Therapy in October. In typical Tanzanian style, Brenda was called away on an emergency and neglected to tell us, so we had to re-schedule, but two of my kids were there with their guardians for a follow-up Week of Therapy (again, typically Tanzanian, no one thought to tell me about this turn of events and I got a pole from Vumi for being in the dark). It was a little awkward not having prepared anything to say to them, but I took this pic of the happy quartet with Vumi and a younger sibling and we went on our way.
3.) After the Kibosho meeting fell through, Vumi and I went into town and had our own little conference about the way forward. Topics discussed were: scheduling, and how we are going to follow up with last year's kids as we start working with the new group this year; how to use the new materials I brought back with me from the States like puzzles, mix and match games, and other goodies from Barnes and Noble; who to hire as support staff to help with assessment and tutorial and when to do so; and various other business-related issues.
4.) I met with a lovely Australian speech pathologist named Julia Mchawala (she's married to a Tanzanian) and had the chance to discuss possible points of collaboration with her. We have only a couple kids with minor speech issues so I'm not sure we are in need of Julia's services just yet, but it's great to be able to add her to our referral network for the future.
5.) Checks are still coming in post-Friend-Raiser (thank you, donors!!), and my folks in DC and NYC have been manning the post office boxes and bank accounts (thank you, parents!!), keeping Toa Nafasi finances on the up-and-up. From my end, I am fully up-to-date with my thank-you notes to contributors and everything is in order budget-wise for the new fiscal year....which, as you might imagine, is a huge relief.
6.) And, finally, I am THRILLED to be able to say that I have submitted the first LOI (letter of interest) for a possible grant on behalf of The Toa Nafasi Project! I don't want to jinx myself, so I won't spill too many beans about the source of the funding but suffice it to say that it is a family foundation (Jewish!) which has funded similarly sized and structured projects in TZ in the past. Methinks, it is the PERFECT next step in terms of raising funds for Toa Nafasi, after having successfully captured the attention of individual donors. Below, please find a snippet from the LOI section about impact and what I am most proud of:
I am most gratified to fill a need where there is no other NGO
presence. Others are working on disability, but none support students
with learning difficulties, thus my work is not redundant.
I am uniquely positioned for success having volunteered there in 2007
and maintained close ties since; this village is the heart of the
That this program does not depend upon me is another source of
pride: once it catches on, as it did in Msaranga, it is easily
maintainable by the local community.
African commitment is vital to our
success and few Westerners are directly involved except those with
specific professional expertise. The Tanzanians we work with grasp the
importance of helping children with learning difficulties and see that
success can happen with only a few simple, effective interventions.
Toa Nafasi Project is proud to work with not one but two marginalized
communities - children and disabled - and to be a part of an authentic