For those readers out there who are not on The Toa Nafasi Project’s subscription list for quarterly reports, I am happy to reprint our Q2 newsletter here.  Some of the information is repeated from past blog entries, but I hope you’ll bear with us and scroll down to the end.  Cheers, and happy reading!

Dear Friends of The Toa Nafasi Project,

The first half of 2019 is a wrap and all of us at Toa Nafasi are so happy to share the latest news from Tanzania with you.

First on the list is the publication of the results from our 2018 cohorts.  Remember that this was pre-expansion, so there are only four participating school sites: Msaranga, Msandaka, Mnazi, and Kiboriloni Primary Schools.  For the most part, the pupils who entered into the Toa Nafasi “pullout program” made major strides in catching up to their peers.  For those who didn’t and for whom the mainstream classroom is not (at this time) an option, we’ve once again partnered with the locally run Gabriella Children’s Rehabilitation Center and Building a Caring Community.

We hope to achieve the same success rate with our current nine school sites, the additions being Jamhuri, Korongoni, Magereza, Moshi, and Shaurimoyo Primary Schools.  The initial assessment took place back in April after which our staff determined which tiers each pupil fell into based on the Response to Intervention (RTI) model as shown below.

Note that there is plenty of mobility among the tiers and obviously our goal is to get Tier 3 and 2 students “down” to Tier 1.  In order to do so, we conducted interviews with the parents of the Tier 3s to find out a little more background about those children and we’ve been taking them on referral appointments for medical or psychosocial support as needed if it turns out that such a problem is interfering with the learning process.

The second assessment will be done in October with only the Tier 2 and 3 kids, six months after the first and in the middle of the Toa Nafasi intervention, and the third and final will be done in April 2020, a full year later.  We anticipate some happy little pupils like these two girls at Jamhuri by that time!

We also continue to invest in our phenomenal tutoring staff, 27 women strong including Hyasinta Macha, Tutor Leader, by hosting international volunteers to run teacher training workshops after the school day is done.  Check out Assistant Deputy Director, Ema Mnubi, translating for Elizabeth Ross and Diana Au, Shuna Lewis and Stacey Abram.  Recurring volunteer Kaitlin Marrs also came to support!

As we’ve alluded to in previous quarterly reports, blog entries, and social media hits, the 16th biennial conference of the International Association of Special Education finally took place here in Tanzania in July.  Although a bit cold, the conference was a tremendous success and Toa Nafasi thanks both IASE and our hosts at Sebastian Kolowa Memorial University in Magamba.

Myself, Deputy Director Augustino Valerian, Assistant Deputy Director Ema Mnubi, Tutor Leader Hyasinta Macha, and five of our tutors braved the long safari and dipping temperatures to participate.  Among the sessions we attended were: “Creating Inclusive Classrooms: Changing Teacher Practice, Not Just Knowledge;” “The Mindful Classroom: Supporting Students With Learning Disabilities Through Mindfulness and Metacognition;” “Overcoming Challenges and Finding Effective Solutions in a Resource-Poor Landscape;” and “Nutrition and Disability: Myths and Facts.”  After each session, we would regroup as Team Toa to discuss and debate all that we had learned!

We were also very lucky to hear speeches by current Vice President of Tanzania, Samia Hassan Suluhu, who opened the conference as well as former President, Benjamin William Mkapa, who gave a moving talk on disability and an impassioned plea to us all to honor the conference theme: “Empowering Persons with Disabilities: Developing Resilience and Inclusive Sustainable Development.”

On the final day, Team Toa visited Lutindi Mental Hospital and Tea Factory where patients are taught to harvest and pack tea.  Our staff also enjoyed the first warm day of the whole trip in the lovely Usambara Mountains before heading back to Moshi and resuming kazi kama kawaida (work as usual)!

Finally, I would be remiss not to announce two recent coups for The Project.  The first is my nomination for the Georgetown Day School Alumni Founders Award, an honor bestowed by my former grade and high school in Washington D.C. on “an alumnus who embodies the GDS values of fighting for social justice, equity, and serving the greater good.”  The second is Toa’s induction into the Segal Family Foundation‘s portfolio, helping to build “an equitable community of visionary organizations—both doers and donors—across Sub-Saharan Africa so that together we can improve the lives of millions.”  On both counts, I am deeply humbled and grateful to be considered and on behalf of my Toa colleagues, I say ahsante sana (thank you very much).  We will not let you down.

As always, our sincerest appreciation goes out to all our friends and donors around the world who make this important work possible.

We look forward to reporting back again in October regarding our third quarter activities.  With all best wishes and our many thanks,

Sarah Rosenbloom