This past Saturday, we celebrated once again Siku ya Usonji Duniani (World Autism Day) with a march through downtown Moshi and festivities at the Gabriella Center, which is always a big contributor to the event for obvious reasons. In case you don't remember, we participated in the big day last year though not as actively as I would have liked, so this year I made a concerted effort to get Toa Nafasi into the mix properly. Under the umbrella of Connects Autism Tanzania, another local NGO dealing more specifically with autism than us, we were able to join in. Check last year's blog post here: http://toanafasi.blogspot.com/2015/04/usonji-day_16.html
We had a banner made with the "Light It Up Blue" theme for autism and arranged for all staff to wear their Toa Nafasi t-shirts. Nearly all of our wonderful teachers made the trek from Msaranga into town, and even the diwani (local councilman) came to represent.
After an abbreviated walk (RAIN!), we ended up at the Hindu Stadium for some speeches and a bit of drumming and dancing. In the last photo below, the kid in the middle with his head bent in concentration is one of the students that Toa Nafasi sponsors to board and study at Gabriella. He is definitely somewhere on the autism spectrum, but doing remarkably well at Gabriella and showing an amazing proclivity for drumming, something we never would have known had he stayed at Msaranga Primary! So proud of Danny!!
All in all, I'd have to say it was a pretty great day and I am happy that Toa Nafasi was able to be a part of it. I think the teachers felt a bit special, that their work in a dusty little classroom in Msaranga is actually part of a bigger system and has a meaning beyond passing the hours and banking a paycheck. I had hoped for a bit more networking at Gabriella but the rain made it impossible. Plus, it's always good to have something more to strive for next year! Light it up blue!!
PS: The photos taken for this blog entry are by Marytza Leiva. Asante sana, Marytza!