Loosely translated, hati ya pongezi means “a congratulatory document” in Swahili. Said congratulatory document (specifically for the classroom refurbishment project with Friends of Tanzania) arrived in my WhatsApp inbox this morning from Toa Deputy Director Augustino Valerian who is, of course, on the ground in Moshi, and it was very much a surprise.
These days, most mornings mean forcing myself out of bed and onto the computer trying to pretend that things are normal, trying hard to work when not only is the situation uncertain far away in Tanzania, but conditions in America grow grimmer by the day….so it’s nice to get a good surprise.
The certificate was bestowed upon Augustino by the Lord Mayor of Moshi, Ray Mboya, who was actually my neighbor when I lived in Tanzania. He has been a fan of our project for quite some time as we work in public primary schools directly under his purview.
We were nominated for the honor by the wonderful headmistress of Jamhuri Primary School, Mwalimu Mashauri, who has also been a big-time fan of Toa since we joined her school in 2019. In fact, her campus is now more of a home base for Toa than my beloved village of Msaranga where I first volunteered and met Mwalimu Vumi, Toa’s co-founder, way back in the day. It’s much more centrally located in Moshi town (Kiusa ward), which has become important now that we are in schools as far to the west as Karanga ward, south in Pasua, east in Kiboriloni, and north in Mfumuni.
And now a word about Madam Mashauri based on an interview she did with Susan earlier this year:
“Mwalimu Mashauri finished Adam Management College, which gives management skills, after studying there for two years from 2011 – 2013. After that, she became a head teacher and has learned from others. In general, leadership is very hard. Jamhuri is her second school; she started in Purua.
Leading mature people is not easy, so she had to have a mature psychology herself when leading the other teachers. While she’s leading, she tries to make them understand her. This year they finally understood her – it took time.
Changes in leadership shake up the whole system, and it’s difficult to make sure that everyone follows the directions that she’s made – to go with the current situation and not the past. For example, when she arrived at Jamhuri, the teacher on duty used to come at 7:30am [her own timetable] and Mashauri told her that was not the time to come to work, and that they will use the rules set by the government [they must be at work at 7am sharp]. So in trying to change the old ways, the teachers thought of her as a dictator and they reported her to the Municipal Council. Now, however, they have understood that these are not her rules alone.
She says that when you are a leader, you need to have conviction and not be driven by others. You have to remind your colleagues a lot. Leading sometimes is by example because everyone has their responsibilities and areas of work. You have to control the habit of gossip, gain respect as a leader, and make others stay in their lane. This is one of the scenarios that has helped them to calm down. As a leader, you have to be very patient because some things are not easily corrected. As a leader, you need to encourage that communication is smooth.
Mwalimu Mashauri loves her work and she trusts herself! From a young age, she used to try a lot of new and different things and she was never scared of being with people. She only completed Standard 7 and then went to college. This is her 17th year working with students and she loves her work.”
I can assure you, dear readers, that Mwalimu Mashauri is an exceptional headmistress and her interview with Susan is really remarkable, both for its frankness as well as for Mashauri’s incisive thoughts. It has been a pleasure working with her for the past 18 months or so, and we hope to continue to do so – and earn more congratulatory documents – for a long, long time! Check out Susan and Mwalimu Mkuu Mashauri below!!