Okay, I know it might sound simple and rose-colored at best, and trite and formulaic at worst -- my New York posse's eyes are rolling back into their overly caffeinated heads right about now -- but God's honest truth .... it's honestly true .... I swear to God!!
It really is that simple. I'm here for these kids. For better or for worse. Through the good, the bad, and all sortsa ugly.
This past week has been rough for me, personally. Mama left after five glorious weeks of mother-daughter bonding, and sentimentalist that I am, I was hit hard by her departure. While she was here, it was us against the world, taking care of business outside of the schoolyard, handling bullies handily, and pushing back the pushers.
In fact, this whole year, I have only been at school a handful of days -- something that is about to change big time -- because I wanted to maximize Mama's time in-country to deal with the irritating, nitpicking, bureaucratic yuckiness of running an NGO in Tanzania. That meant going to accountants, lawyers, banks, THE REVENUE AUTHORITY, and all manner of other unpleasant locale in order to cross any Ts and dot any Is that are necessary for Toa Nafasi's legal status in Tanzania. (We're all good, should anyone have any concerns, Mama saw to that before she left!!)
Now, on the cusp of a new month -- and just weeks from my 40th birthday -- I am reflective .... and thankful.
The past eight years in Kilimanjaro has been an amazing opportunity, an incredible experience. "The best of times, the worst of times," as Chas Dickens once wrote. But an experience that few others can say they have had the opportunity to live. I know it sounds hokey and maybe I'm getting maudlin and mushy in my old age, but I feel quite certain that I'm on the right track here.
And my certainty mostly stems from the change I see around me. I know I am hard on TZ and TZ'ians and I rail often about taking responsibility, being accountable, problem-solving, and thinking critically.... But ultimately, if all my railing comes to naught except to motivate just a select few, then my time here has not been wasted. (Vumilia Temba, nakupenda mtu wangu....)
For my part, I've been taught many a lesson here, none of which I could have learned in a publicity department on the 20th-odd-floor in midtown Manhattan. So .... asante sana, Tee-Zed, whether we like it or not, it appears we're stuck together, wewe na mimi. And, you can now add Mama to that mix because she has unfinished business with several and sundry in the Moshi community. And, she WILL be back!!
This is Grace, Vumi's daughter. She was born in 2010, which makes her five years old these days.
The daughter of a teacher, she is inquisitive.
The daughter of the Vuminator, it also makes her opinionated. And autonomous. And stubborn. And a lil' bit aggravating, quite frankly speaking....
But, as I said, change happens....
Five years appear to have passed -- according to Miss Grace -- yet I've somehow managed not to age a day....!!