Monday, November 2, 2015

Of All the Pumpkins in All the Patches

Hi everybody, I hope this blog post finds you all well, having survived the Halloween weekend.

As for me, the last few days have been super-spooky as I've been working round the clock on various Toa-releated items.

I spent the last week in Washington, DC, where I met with everyone from Sara at the Masalina Foundation to a rep for the new Tanzanian Ambassador to the former head of the World Bank in Dar es Salaam, and of course, the members of my U.S. Board of Directors.

Phew!  I neither got to trick nor treat as my train arrived at Penn Station around 10pm on All Hallows' Eve....  The parade was in full force downtown and negotiating the crowds with my suitcase was probably more horrifying than any of the ghouls and goblins I encountered along the way!!

At any rate, though it was an exhausting few days, we made lot of headway as we continue to raise awareness - and funds! - for the Project.

In keeping with the holiday theme, I've decided that my fundraising philosophy can be summed up with a quote from Charles Schulz's Charlie Brown:

"Each year, the Great Pumpkin rises out of the pumpkin patch that he thinks is the most sincere.  He's gotta pick this one.  He's got to.  I don't see how a pumpkin patch can be more sincere than this one.  You can look around and there's not a sign of hypocrisy.  Nothing but sincerity as far as the eye can see."

It is an especially important time for us to be pounding the pavement and knocking on doors as the planned expansion of our services is scheduled to occur in just two months, when I return to Moshi.

We will enter into three neighboring schools early next year: in addition to Msaranga Primary School, our home base, we will work in Kiboriloni Primary School, Mnazi Primary School, and Msandaka Primary School.

Permits have previously been obtained from the Moshi Municipal Council and we have visited the schools twice and met with the headmasters and mistresses so they both know about and agree to what we propose.

Basically, we will replicate the work we've done the past three years at Msaranga Primary in the three additional schools, assessing in 2016 a total of four Standard One classes in public primary schools in Kilimanjaro region.

Truth told, it will actually be double that since Standard One students are divided into morning and afternoon sessions so I'm guessing we'll go from testing approximately 170 kids to maybe 680!  (This is probably the most terrifying thing I've written in this Halloween-themed entry!!)

It's certainly going to be a challenge, and probably a bit of mayhem as well, but it will keep us busy and test our  hypothesis about the ease of Toa Nafasi's replicability.

Of course, the loss of Vumi still lingers and I cannot believe that we are undertaking the expansion (of which she was so instrumental in designing) without her.  But Hyasinta and crew continue to work hard on the ground and Rhiannon and Gasto and I are covering the office duties, so I think we'll muddle through.

Speaking of Vooms, I found this photo of her from back in the day.

I had tried to explain the Halloween holiday to her and the chekechea class we were teaching when I first came to TZ to volunteer.  I'm not sure how much of the concept they actually understood, but Vumi loved hearing about all our crazy mzungu traditions and so I'm reminded of her more than ever this time of year.

So, happy Halloween, one and all, and many happy returns....

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