Okay, so there are admittedly a few things wrong with the title of this post, but I smiled as I wrote it and it just felt right.

Obviously, I am not by any means a child so that would be the first error.  Secondly, I don’t believe I’m particularly prodigal but I did go back to the States for two months for a little break from Tanzania, so I suppose that could be seen as an extravagance.  I personally see it as a necessity both for me to stay sane and for the local staff here to step it up in my absence.

As it turns out, they did indeed step it up and I am not so much prodigal as I am useless!

Augustino Valerian, our Deputy Director and Operations guy, has things valiantly in hand and under his guidance, Emmanuel Mnubi, the Assistant Deputy Director and Administration main man, and Hyasinta Macha, who you all know well as our Tutor Leader have flourished into their roles, gaining further responsibility and with that, respect from both the tutoring staff as well as our partners and stakeholders.

Nine of our tutors have been promoted to the role of Head Tutor, leading the Toa cohorts at each of our participating school sites: from the first phase, Msaranga, Msandaka, Mnazi, and Kiboriloni and from the second phase, Jamhuri, Korongoni, Magereza, Moshi, and Shaurimoyo.  All of these schools are showing positive results from Toa’s presence and the headmasters and government-employed teachers are pleased with the collaboration.

Of course, there have been some challenges as there always will be.  The scarcity of classrooms continues to be an issue as does the fact that even when the rooms exist, they might be in states of disrepair so bad that they are unusable.  The tent at Mnazi is falling apart due to heavy rains and will need to be patched up at a rather great expense to Toa.  Since we do not ordinarily raise money for construction, we have decided to put aside a separate kitty of funds for this purpose and to fundraise separately for building and repairs in the future.  More on that later….

For the most part, challenges continue to be of this nature and less of the kind we experienced when we were a younger organization, those of pugnacious people putting up obstacles in the name of self-interest.  To me, this is a turn in the road, one that also renders me kind of useless.  Since we no longer have to fight the powers-that-be and are not only accepted but also appreciated for what we came to offer, my role on the ground is really quite diminished and we have entered into a sort of “business as usual” phase.  It’s nice really.  The local management administrates and operates; the tutors support the students and earn a viable living while also gaining some professional skills that should help them down the road in their own careers; and the kids, multitudinous as they are, continue to provide us with willing subjects both to learn from and to teach.  Each year, there are always new cases of children with different problems to be solved, illnesses to be treated, and issues to be coped with.  It never ceases to fascinate me how various humanity is, how incredibly different we all are from one another.  It’s both exciting and terrifying!

At any rate, all this is to say that my first week back in Tanzania has been quite lovely and very productive.  Below please find some snapshots from the front lines.  I’ve yet to spend any time in the schools or at the clinics with the kids, but that will come, no doubt.

A welcoming placard hangs in a classroom at one of our new participating public primary schools sites, Jamhuri Primary School

Approximately half the tutoring staff forfeited their winter vacations to continue to work with the Tier 3 kids at Toa Nafasi

Noela Kitomari is one of our new tutors and she continues to impress me and the local admin staff with her energy, dynamism, and devotion to her job

Augustino, Ema, and Hyasinta check in with the tutors to make sure work over vacation is going smoothly