Or “Happy New Year!” for the English-language readers out there.  🙂

2018 was an interesting year for The Toa Nafasi Project, marked by incredible high points such as:

-the increase in donations from a subpar 2017, both from individuals as well as from foundations, corporations, and matching grants programs;

-the fifth anniversary celebration of The Project in February which was attended by various local luminaries here in Moshi such as Anna Mghwira, Regional Commissioner of Kilimanjaro; Ester Rambau and Joyce Urassa from the District Education Office, Moshi Municipality; and Tamford Kamenya from the office of the District Executive Director;

-the press and publicity garnered from the above-mentioned event including a segment on ITV and an article in the local national newspaper, Nipashe;

-the rollout of our fifth year of remedial services for students with learning difficulties in the public primary school system including assessment (of cognitive, behavioral, and social skills), referral (with local medical and psychosocial experts), and our trademark pullout program;

-the success of Toa pupils from the year(s) before who The Project supported either within the public school system or through our partnerships by locally-run NGOs like the Gabriella Centre and BCC;

-the start (fingers crossed!) of the development of parent-teacher relationships in which information about each child’s progress is shared safely and without judgment from home to school and back again;

-the fruitfulness of our ongoing relationship with Dr. Angela Stone-MacDonald, Department Chair of the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Massachusetts in Boston as demonstrated in the assessment she developed and the graphs she continues to produce from our raw data;

-the formation of a firm “Team Toa” identity by the current administrative and tutoring staff, culminating in a gesture that shocked and delighted me: the production of special Toa tee-shirts organized and paid for by the local staff;

-the solidification of our public-private partnership with the Government of Tanzania, in particular the District Education Office for Moshi Municipality, without whose cooperation The Project could not work;

-the proposed expansion into five additional schools in Moshi Municipality, which came out of that formal collaboration – the DEO’s office even chose the schools and paved the way forward with the headmasters (!);

-the optimistic initial surveys undertaken at those schools which we will be entering in just a few short weeks along with the current participating school sites;

-the hiring and training of more administrative and tutoring staff which has increased the number of Toa employees to a whopping 33 heads – I’ll add here that the additional staff has required me to delegate a lot of my responsibilities to others, something that is scary but vital to growth and sustainability;

-the celebrations of special “days” in collaboration with other organizations here in Moshi such as International Women’s Day, World Down Syndrome Day, and World Autism Awareness Day;

-the attendance of various events and conferences such as Humentum’s Capacity for Humanity in February and Childbirth Survival International’s own fifth anniversary celebration (at which I met former President of Tanzania, Jakaya Kikwete!) in April;

-my TEDx talk in Modena, Italy in May, which, honestly, guys, I wasn’t sure I would survive…. (!!);

-the landing of two grants, one from the International Foundation and the other from Fondation Masalina, thanks to the hard work of our Fundraising and Communications Officer, Allison Taylor;

-our continued work with the International Association of Special Education, including hosting their volunteers from the States and being a part of their steering committee for the next biennial conference in July 2019;

-the blossoming of a new relationship with the Diaspora Council of Tanzanians in America, an illustrious group of Tanzanians stateside who are dedicated to improving the socio-economic development of Tanzania;

-and, last but not least, the acquisition of our new office which we rent alone and from which we proudly hang our shingle (!).

This is not to say that 2018 was without shida (that’s problems to you Anglos).  There was shida aplenty this past year and there will be shida anew in 2019.  But, for the next 48hours or so, let’s just weka shida chini na rusha mikono juu, okay?  Put the problems down and throw your arms up!

Happy new year, everybody!!