Tuesday, May 3, 2016


As you all know, The Toa Nafasi Project expanded dramatically this year - from serving one public primary school to four.  And with such expansion comes other growth - more students, more teachers, more administration, more expenditure, more more more more.
In order to accommodate the expansion, I have learned to let go (-ish) and not sweat the small stuff (as much).  This means delegating responsibility to my colleagues and allowing them to discover and understand, develop and grow, and even make mistakes and learn from them.
Gasto has been a huge help on the admin side, facilitating interactions with unpleasant government-y types and undertaking icky office-y tasks (creation of an HR manual, anyone??).

At school, Hyasinta is Boss, the H.M.I.C. or Head Mwalimu in Charge, and I rely on her to keep the younger, newer teachers on point.

At first, I was skeptical.  Who could do the job the way Vumi did?  Who could I rely on so heavily, who would understand my moods let alone my Swahili, read my thoughts, share my jokes?

When Vumi was still alive, I did not have much of a relationship with Hyasinta other than sharing pleasantries.  I used to call her Mrembo or "Beautiful" because she is, but she is also mpole (quiet/shy) and I never got to know her until last year.
Though I am determined not to make that mistake again with the new crew (I make an effort to spend a little time with each of them, to know a bit about their lives, their strengths and weaknesses, personalities), I still need an H.M.I.C. to put a little layer of management between me and the staff.  Hyasinta not only fills this position, she OWNS it.
If I ever had doubts about her in the past, they are 100% erased based on her performance this year and really since Vumi's funeral last July.  She has stepped up in unimaginable ways, just the way Vumi did back in the day.  And though she is not Vumi, we do have our jokes now and we do share our stories and we do have a personal as well as professional relationship.
I've come to find Hyasinta not only beautiful and quiet/shy, but also smart, quick, active, forward-thinking, and thorough.

Case in point, we had a slight shida (problem) with one of the teachers not respecting her authority and I was about to call Gasto in to have a talk with her, but Hyasinta declined, wanting to handle things her own way.
Instead of going to the teacher in question, she held a meeting for all of the teachers during which she elucidated the rules of work: hours, breaks, absence and lateness, teaching style, etc.

Here she is talking about cell phone use and eating in front of the children.  I think it was a really effective way of laying down the law.  And I was impressed that she handled the problem on her own without either me or Gasto stepping in.
Maximum respect, Hyasinta, maximum respect....

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