Vision

We envision a world in which every Tanzanian child is provided a chance to receive quality education that recognizes and fosters individual talent, and every Tanzanian woman an opportunity for professional advancement and personal empowerment.

Mission

Our mission is twofold.  Founded on the notion that each child is an individual with diverse aptitudes and learning styles to be encouraged, we help public primary school students in Tanzania to develop strengths, overcome challenges, and cultivate creativity.  We hire and train underemployed local women as tutors, and work with the Ministry of Education, parents and caregivers, and the community at large.  The goal of The Toa Nafasi Project is to enrich the classroom experience, create a linkage between school and home, and offer a chance to succeed for both student and tutor.

History

The Toa Nafasi Project is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that was conceived in 2009 and incorporated in 2012 in response to the “one size fits all” approach to education in Tanzania, East Africa.

Toa nafasi or “provide a chance” is a nod to the fact that without some kind of reform in the education sector acknowledging students’ individuality, many Tanzanian schoolchildren will not achieve their full potential. To improve the current system and national curricula, our Project works with local government authorities, taking up the following issues in Tanzanian public primary schools, thereby providing every child with a chance to thrive:

  • introducing new and innovative teaching methodologies
  • developing better teacher training
  • enriching Early Childhood Development and Early Childhood Education initiatives
  • supporting students with learning difficulties, slow learners, and other vulnerable children
  • inculcating a “culture of reading” starting at an early age
  • recognizing non-scholastic skills such as art, music, and sport
  • making medical and psychosocial services available to those who are underperforming in class
  • encouraging the entire community to become involved in students’ lives

The Toa Nafasi Project was founded by Sarah Rosenbloom, a longtime volunteer teacher and development worker in Kilimanjaro, who is conversant in both the language and culture of Tanzania, and has extensive contacts throughout the country. Sarah is joined by a fifteen-member staff, two advisory/directorial boards, and the Project works in coordination with: The International Association of Special Education, The Diaspora Council of Tanzanians in America, Dr. Angela Stone-MacDonald and The Early Childhood Licensure Program of UMass Boston, The Gabriella Children’s Rehabilitation Centre, Building Caring Communities, and the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre among others.

I was born and raised in Washington DC and, after studying at Columbia University, I remained in New York to work in the book publishing industry for ten years.

In July 2007, I went to Kilimanjaro, Tanzania to be a short-term volunteer nursery school teacher. It was here that I noticed a number of children writing backward or upside-down, both letters and numbers. These kids were slow to catch on and hard to correct, and the teachers were at a loss as to how to help them. Salome struggled with every subject in the classroom, and was ostracized by her peers on the playground. Daniel was good at math, but the only way to know this was by holding his notebook up to a mirror – he would write the equations correctly but entirely backward!

I was shocked to learn that the Swahili word for “kindergarten” – chekechea – has a literal meaning of “the tool that separates wheat from chaff,” and immediately saw the need for reform. I researched special education networks both in Tanzania and abroad, and imagined a simple yet effective intervention to assist primary schoolchildren with learning difficulties in the Tanzanian public school system.

Since our inception in 2012, Toa Nafasi has evolved into a more holistic entity that aims to foster students’ hidden talents as well as resolve perceived problems. Not every Tanzanian child can be a superstar academically, but he or she might well be exceptional in other ways, and that’s what The Toa Nafasi Project wants to find out.

Where We Work

Tanzania is an East African country situated just south of the Equator. It is bounded by Uganda, Lake Victoria, and Kenya to the north; by the Indian Ocean to the east; by Mozambique, Lake Nyasa, Malawi, and Zambia to the south and southwest; and by Lake Tanganyika, Burundi, and Rwanda to the west.

Tanzania is home to an exceptionally rich array of wildlife – zebras, giraffes, and wildebeests; lions, leopards, and cheetahs; elephants, hippos, and crocodiles – all of which can be seen in the country’s numerous game parks, the most celebrated being Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, and Selous Game Reserve. Other natural points of interest found in Tanzania are Mount Kilimanjaro, the “Roof of Africa,” standing 5,895 meters or 19,341 feet above sea level, and the spice islands of the Zanzibar Archipelago.

Tanzania’s population of about 56 million people is unevenly spread over the country’s 26 regions, and includes more than 125 different indigenous African peoples, or tribes, most of whom are of Bantu descent. 70% of the country is rural with a third of households living below the basic needs poverty line of $1 a day. Moshi, the capital city of Kilimanjaro region in the northeast, is headquarters to The Toa Nafasi Project and home to roughly 200,000 people. The majority of residents are subsistence farmers with international trade being strong in coffee and tourism.

There are just under 900 public primary schools in Kilimanjaro region with 35 of those in Moshi Municipal district (where Toa Nafasi works), serving 25,000 students. There is one teacher to every 45 children and rates of graduation are poor. Well over 50% of public primary schoolchildren do not matriculate and only a quarter of secondary school-age youth actually attend school. Countrywide, unemployment is over 10% and literacy is under 70%.

Board of Directors

The United States of America

President, 2012 – PRESENT

Sarah is the founder of The Toa Nafasi Project, which has been operating in Kilimanjaro since 2013.  Prior to her work with Toa, Sarah spent an additional six years in Tanzania volunteering and working for another NGO.  Before that, she was a publicist in New York City in the book publishing industry.  She was born and raised in Washington DC and attended Columbia University.  Sarah has climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro three times and has an affinity for children whose sense of wonderment, untold curiosity, and small people logic never cease to charm her.

Secretary, 2013 – PRESENT

Dr. Peterson is professor emerita in the Department of English, University of Maryland.  While at the university, she chaired the committee on Africa and Africa in the Americas (1994-2001).  Her research and publications focus on African American literature, history, and culture.  As a public historian, Dr. Peterson has served on several museum consulting teams, notably at the New-York Historical Society, the Museum of the City of New York, and the National Museum of African American History.  She received her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Yale University.

Treasurer, 2012 – PRESENT

Veronika Rovegno is a permanent resident of the United States but was born in Tanzania.  The daughter of a career diplomat, Mr. John J. Ngo’ngolo (former Minister Plenipotentiary of the Tanzanian Mission to the United Nations), Veronika spent her formative years in Nairobi, Kenya and then returned to Tanzania as a teenager before moving to the United States in 2001.  She returned to Tanzania almost 13 years later when she was employed first by Aggrey & Clifford advertising agency in Dar es Salaam and now the UK-based insurance brokerage firm, Howden Puri.  Veronika is passionate about gender equality and women’s empowerment as well as early childhood education and children’s rights.

Legal, 2018 – PRESENT

Clark Armitage is a member of Caplin & Drysdale residing in the firm’s Washington, D.C., office.  Mr. Armitage advises multinational corporations on international tax and transfer pricing matters, from planning to cross-border dispute resolution.  He is active in advising clients on the implications of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, and has a strong background interacting with tax authorities on advance pricing agreements and competent authority matters for corporations in a variety of industries.  Mr. Armitage spent eight years in the IRS Advance Pricing Agreement Program, serving as Deputy Director from 2008 to 2010, where he both experienced and oversaw the full spectrum of program activities.  Mr. Armitage also served on a special detail as the Tax Treaty Manager responsible for Canadian Competent Authority cases.

Governance, 2013 – PRESENT

Romana is a member of the U.S. board of The Toa Nafasi Project working on governance.  She is also a current board member (Chair of Development) for New Futures in the metropolitan Washington D.C. area, and board emeritus for WITF (PBS and NPR broadcast stations) in Central Pennsylvania.  Romana was past board chair for the YWCA in York, PA and past board member for the United Way, also in York.  Born in Rome, Italy; raised in Hong Kong and Tokyo; and then educated at in the United States, Romana is now retired and currently resides in Washington, D.C. with her husband.

Board of Directors

The United Republic of Tanzania

Chairperson, 2012 – PRESENT

Sarah is the founder of The Toa Nafasi Project, which has been operating in Kilimanjaro since 2013.  Prior to her work with Toa, Sarah spent an additional six years in Tanzania volunteering and working for another NGO.  Before that, she was a publicist in New York City in the book publishing industry.  She was born and raised in Washington DC and attended Columbia University.  Sarah has climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro three times and has an affinity for children whose sense of wonderment, untold curiosity, and small people logic never cease to charm her.

Secretary, 2015 – PRESENT

Robin is a clinical psychologist, living and working in Arusha, Tanzania for 35 years.  She has a special interest in child protection and promoting programs to increase the capacity of students and teachers within the government school system.

Treasurer, 2012 – PRESENT

Harrison Ngowi was born and raised in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania.  He is married to Edna, a nurse, and has two adult children, Haika and Emmanuel.  He became a part of The Toa Nafasi Project having been the homestay baba for Sarah when she was a volunteer in 2007.

 

 

Member, 2015 – PRESENT

Methley is the owner and operator of Just-Kilimanjaro, a trekking outfit based in Moshi, Tanzania.  Just-Kilimanjaro has been in operation for the past 6 years.  Prior to this, he was working for another tour company.  He was born and raised in Machame, Kilimanjaro.

Staff (Tanzania)

Tutor Leader

“I work as Toa Nafasi Tutor Leader.  I am the mother of a newborn son called Baraka, which means ‘blessings.’ I have worked for the organization for four years. I was teaching at Kilimanjaro Education Academy (KEA) Primary School before joining the organization. I love the teaching job, and playing with the kids. I have gained significant experience such as identification of children’s learning problems and various techniques to improve their learning.”

Tutor

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Tutor

“I’m Clara, mother of a daughter called Angelfaith. I was running a small business before joining the organization. I enjoy teaching the kids and playing with them, and love The Project as a whole.”

Tutor

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Tutor

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Tutor

“My name is Dorin Mongi.  I was born in the year 1996 in a village called Samanga in Moshi Rural District.  I’m a mother of one son.  I joined Toa Nafasi in June 2014 before which I was working for a stationery shop.  I love the organization as it helps me to earn income to support myself and my parents.  I have gained a lot of skills like identification of slow learners and knowing the problems hindering their smooth learning.  I enjoy working with the organization and helping the kids, as they need our support so much.”

Tutor

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Tutor

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Tutor

“I am the only daughter from a family of four children.  I was born in Moshi Rural District in Kilimanjaro region.  I joined the organization in the year 2016, before which I used to work for a security company in Dar es Salaam.  I enjoy playing different games with the kids, singing, smiling, and teaching them.  The Toa Nafasi Project has given me an opportunity not only to earn a living but also to help children with learning difficulties.”

Tutor

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Tutor

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Tutor

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Tutor

“In 1995 I was born.  I earned a certificate in tourism management.  Before joining Toa, I was an assistant researcher as Restless Development.  I love to eat meals with children so I can correct their bad eating habits, but also I am good at drawing pictures with them.”

Tutor

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Tutor

“I’m Imelda, the first born in a family of four kids.  My work station is Msaranga Primary School.  I joined The Toa Nafasi Project in the year 2015.  Before joining the organization, I was jobless and staying with my parents.  I like the work the organization does, as it helps the communities by helping the slow-learning kids.  I love playing soccer.”

Tutor

“I am Leah Mboya, a mother of a son called Chricious.  I was born in Arusha region thirty-one years ago.  I joined Toa Nafasi after finalizing my teaching certificate course at Northern Highlands College in 2015.  I was fortunate to get a job with The Toa Nafasi Project.  I like learning new things, playing with the kids, drumming, and playing piano.”

Tutor

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Tutor

“Before joining Toa Nafasi, I was a shopkeeper.  But because I love kids, singing, reading different books, and teaching, I enjoy more helping slow-learning kids and my work at Toa Nafasi!”

Tutor

“I am Nelly Lyatuu, a Toa Nafasi teacher and mother of three sons, Oscar, Amani, and Johnson.  I used to be a volunteer to support children living with HIV and AIDS.  I enjoy my work, as Toa Nafasi has helped me to build my family and career.  God bless the founders, and the organization as a whole.”

Tutor

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Tutor

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Tutor

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Tutor

“My name is Rose Assey.  I work for The Toa Nafasi Project.  I’m a mother of 2 kids (Ian and Brian).  Before joining this organization, I was working for Second Chance Nursery School in Msaranga.  I love teaching the kids, playing and singing with them.  I also enjoy working with my colleagues, and having the chance to work on this team has enabled me to achieve a lot, like gaining experience through different learned and applied techniques.”

Tutor

“I am a mother of one kid.  I have been with the program since October 2015.  I used to work in a stationery shop before then.  This organization has supported me and my child enormously economically.  And I enjoy helping the kids.”

Tutor

“I am Sarah Minja and I used to work for an orphanage called Agano before joining Toa Nafasi.  I like supporting the kids, singing and playing with them.  I also enjoy working with my colleagues in the organization.”

Tutor

“Born in 1992, I have a certificate in primary education, and before joining Toa, I worked at Forest Hill Primary School for three years.  I love to teach children and to help them understand.  I also love playing with them – I can draw some great pictures!  I also like working in groups where I learn something different each day. ”

Tutor

“I’m called Sia Mtenga.  Before joining the organization, I used to earn a living from running a small business.  I like teaching, playing with the kids, and helping them whenever they have issues.  I also like the work of the organization.”

Tutor

“I was born in 1988 and have a certificate in Early Childhood Education.  I like to interact with children – teach them and learn from them.  Before joining Toa, I was a volunteer teacher at St. Anna Primary School”

Tutor

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Tutor

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Office Manager

“Born in 1985 in Same district, Kilimanjaro region, I earned a diploma in tourism.  Before joining The Toa Nafasi Project, I worked at Kindoroko Hotel as tour manager.  I also worked with Solani and Company accountants as a secretary.  I like working with Toa Nafasi!”

Assistant Deputy Director

Emmanuel Mnubi was born on New Year’s Eve 1993 in Moshi, Kilimanjaro.  He is one of five children in his family.  Ema holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Economics from Moshi Cooperative University where he also went for his diploma and certificate.  Ema is a passionate photographer of both landscapes and portraits, a well-trained martial artist with a brown belt rank in Goju Ryu karate, and a certified public speaker.  Ema volunteered with several organizations while at university such as Pamoja Tunaweza, Uwezo, and Foot2Africa.  He likes working in the community and solving problems in life.

 

 

Deputy Director

Augustino Valerian is a young ambitious man with a BSc. in Taxation from The Institute of Finance Management, Dar es Salaam and an MBA at Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology, Arusha campus.  He worked in the development industry for more than three years with the Safe Youth Development scheme, a youth-led organization to empower young people and women in rural areas of Tanzania.  He loves to see children being educated and having the knowledge appropriate to their age and year in school, so he is now happy to devote his full time, efforts, and skills to work for Toa Nafasi as a way to fulfill his passion and help children with learning difficulties.

 

 

 

Fundraising and Communications Manager

Allison has worked in development since 2004, firstly for the Australian Government’s Agency for International Development (AusAID) and then for a number of local non-governmental organizations in Tanzania.  She has a particular interest in education and gender, and has a Masters in International Studies.  Allison commenced as the Fundraising and Communications Manager for The Toa Nafasi Project towards the end of 2017.