Just before I left Moshi, Ema was running Friday groups for the Toa tutoring staff and found that a lot of the women were missing some very basic information about what Toa does, why we do it, how we are funded, and what in the heck I am still doing in Tanzania after a decade.
To that end, he began the exercise of having every tutor practice what I would deem their own version of a TED Talk in front of the rest of the group for feedback, both congratulatory and critical. The tutors primarily took this opportunity to practice as if speaking to parents, which was a great training activity.
I had the good fortune of being present at one of these Friday groups and I absolutely loved what I saw. Of course, there are improvements to be made, but for the most part, to witness these formerly underemployed women describing this organization (which I suppose was MY “idea worth spreading”) was utterly amazing. I almost felt as though I was no longer needed which – especially for any parents out there reading – is a bittersweet feeling: I birthed you with this moment in mind, raised you to achieve this success, and am thrilled by how far you have come…. but yet am slightly wistful that the moment has indeed arrived and conflicted to realize that my necessity, relevance, and instruction are starting to fade into obsolescence. Oh, Toa, you teenager, you!
In fact, however, just as teens are meant to leave home and start their own lives, so too are foreign-funded NGOs in developing countries meant to turn over activities on the ground in due course and trust that the local community has got things in hand.
At any rate, here are some outtakes from the “TED Talks” of Mwalimu Nelly and Mwalimu Oliva. I have included some explanatory captions below since it’s all in Swahili, but I think you’ll agree that body language means everything and these two are working the room!!
Mwalimu Nelly begins by saying she is not alone, she works with colleagues, thereby underscoring the importance of teamwork when assisting children with learning difficulties.
Nelly then describes some of the issues that the kids may have and how the project can help them. She gives a shout-out to our partners like the Gabriella Center which provides services for those kids who we discover cannot remain within the regular classroom. Once again, she uses language of inclusion and unity when discussing how Toa operates.
She finishes up by mentioning our “Friday Fundays” which feature games and storytelling and talks a bit about how play-based learning can help children who experience difficulty in the classroom. Again, Nelly always uses the prefix “tu” which in Swahili indicates she is speaking as “we,” demonstrating again how she is part of a team.
Mwalimu Oliva is one of our newer tutors and comes correct with the facts, starting her talk with a list of the names of Toa’s participating public primary school sites.
Oliva then talks about the purpose of the project, how we help children who learn slowly or differently, and names our partners just as Nelly had done before her. Oliva also talks about how Toa deals with health issues when these affect a student’s learning. She ends by talking about how the project is beneficial to parents and asks for their cooperation going forward.