I don’t normally post such sensitive images as the ones you see here, but I feel it is not wrong to share this short video of our pilgrimage to Marangu last week to visit Vumi on the third anniversary of her death.

For those of you who don’t know, Vumi was my beloved friend, almost like a sister to me, and I met her way back in 2007 when I was but a wee volunteer.  We co-taught nursery school together for six months and when I came back to Tanzania in 2008, we saw each other regularly up until I founded Toa Nafasi in 2012.  Then, Vumi became Toa’s first employee, working for a mere 10,000tsh a week, which is less than $5usd.

It was Vumi who introduced me to the good people of Msaranga including many of those with whom I now work and who help to keep The Toa Nafasi Project up and running.

It was Vumi who encouraged me to start The Project and stood by my side through thick and thin in those salad days of Toa’s existence.

It was Vumi who corrected my rookie Swahili and told me when my skirts were too short.  Vumi who fended off other villagers, saying, “Sarah doesn’t drink soda” when we went on home visits and were plied with soft drinks.  Vumi who insisted I lay down the law with any Tanzanian guy I dated.  Vumi whose baby daughter, Grace, I held in my arms just days after she was born.  Vumi with whom I fought over things both stupid and stupendous.  Vumi whom I loved and tortured.  Vumi who loved me back and tortured me in kind.

We friended and sistered and mothered each other until she died on July 24th, 2015 and since then, every year on this day, I go to her home village in the foothills of Mt. Kilimanjaro to pay homage and remind myself of the past.

Toa’s present is very active, colorful, and bright; and Toa’s future is unknown but looks optimistic.  However, it is Toa’s past that starts to get fuzzy and before those colors bleed together, I gotta remember it and hold it tight. Good thing Hyasinta is around to help me do just that.