Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “The major problem of life is learning how to handle the costly interruptions.  The door that slams shut, the plan that got sidetracked, the marriage that failed.  Or that lovely poem that didn’t get written because someone knocked on the door.”

Typically, I do not handle being interrupted very well.  My lovely poems often fall to the wayside once I’m interrupted.

However, the lovely poem that is The Toa Nafasi Project is much larger than me alone or any number of my poems.  It is an engine that is responsible for 35 people’s livelihoods, most of those being Tanzanian nationals.  In turn, those 35 people are responsible for over 1,500 public primary school children all over Moshi Municipality in Kilimanjaro, most of whom come from families who count on our support to ensure their kids’ holistic wellbeing.  So, this is one lovely poem that I’ve committed to seeing in print, if you’ll bear with the metaphor.

COVID-19 has done a doozy on lives and livelihoods the world round and the spectrum of pain and suffering runs the gamut from missing your golf season to losing your life.  The pandemic has not left Tanzania untouched although it is unclear as to how hard the country (and indeed the African continent generally) has been – and is going to be – hit.  For now, we wait.

Schools closed on March 16th when we at Toa were only just over halfway finished assessing the 2020 pupils for the very first time.  It’s been frustrating to be so delayed in culling our data and examining the results so as to group the students into Tier One (typically developed), Tier Two (slightly lagging), and Tier Three (atypically developed) cohorts.  If schools open up again in mid-July after the normal “winter” break in Tanzania, we will be a good three months behind in all aspects of the Toa intervention: assessment, referral, and curriculum modification.

However, since there’s very little any one of us can do to ameliorate this situation, I have given in to this interruption, nuisance that it is, and laid down my pen, to take up my lovely poem once again when all of this subsides.  As you can see from the above, we certainly have our work cut out for us!