As most of our readers know, Toa Nafasi runs workshops for our tutoring staff each Friday after our “Friday Fundays” for our students.

The fundays consist of games and play-based learning sessions where the kids can enjoy some extracurricular activities with their peers that are not normally offered in the public school system.

The tutor workshops started out as team-building and leadership exercises designed to elicit proactivity, critical thinking, and a willingness to voice one’s opinions, but have since developed into a much wider forum of thought-sharing.  We now conduct professional development workshops which cover teacher training activities as well as general interest and life skills subjects such as women’s health and family planning (all of the tutoring staff is female); banking, saving, and social security; small business and entrepreneurship; and sometimes just fun joint-effort competitions like the Marshmallow Challenge and Let’s Get Wet!

Recently, because we have formed partnerships with several individuals and organizations in Moshi or elsewhere in Tanzania or East Africa at large, we have invited partners to run workshops with our staff on the subjects in which they are fluent.  Last week, a partner made through the Segal Family Foundation called The Songambele Initiative (meaning “move forward” in Kiswahili) joined us for workshop titled “How to Support Disabled People.”  Below, please find the report and photos from the ground in Moshi!  Enjoy!!

(Slide credit: The Songambele Initiative)

The workshop started at 1pm on 7th August 2020, and Mr. Augustino of Toa Nafasi began the session by welcoming all the attendees.  He introduced the main facilitator of the session called Mr. Abdullah Munish from the organization Songambele Initiative.

Next, the facilitator started the session by introducing his fellow colleagues by whom he was accompanied: Mr. Laurance Mrawa and Madam Queen Isack.  Then he introduced the main topic which was “Disability, Liberation, and Development.”  He mentioned the sub-topics he was going to discuss such as what is a disability, the disability movement in Tanzania, the experience of disability, and different eras of disability.

DISABILITY, LIBERATION, AND DEVELOPMENT

The important things we will talk about:

–what is disability

–the disability movement in Tanzania

–the experience of disability

–the different eras of disability

–the era of generosity

–the medical era

–the social era

–is disability welfare or empowerment

–the different visions of disability

–the value of interest

–a game of disability

(Slide credit: The Songambele Initiative)

Mr. Abdullah then introduced a game and chose some Toa tutors to participate.  Two tutors had to sit in a wheelchair until the end of the session and were told to use the wheelchair in every movement they had to make during the session, e.g. going to the washroom, etc.

Another game included some tutors to cover their eyes with a piece of cloth so they could not see anything going on until the end of the session.  They also had to hold a stick with one hand as many blind people do to feel their surroundings.

A final game involved two more tutors to put a piece of tissue in their ears so that they could not hear anything during the session so that they could understand how it is for a deaf person.

The facilitator then asked questions to all the attendees and they had to share their ideas about what they know concerning the topics at hand.  He wanted to know their definition of disability and whether they considered disability to be a disadvantage or an empowerment.

THE AGE OF DEVELOPMENT

–Here now there are activists for the issues of people with disabilities.  The world is fighting with all their might to recognize us and keep us in this age.

–“A person with a disability – just as a non-disabled person – has the potential to contribute to social development whether economic or otherwise as long as there is a friendly environment.”

(Slide credit: The Songambele Initiative)

Mr. Abdullah then explained the meaning of disability and talked about the disability movement in Tanzania.  Also, he gave a short history on how he got into an accident in 2000 and he discovered he would not be able to walk again and would need to use a wheelchair.  He explained the challenges he faced after the accident as well as how he is doing right now.  The big challenge he said was contempt from other people because of his disability.  Mr. Laurance then gave a short history on how he too became disabled and started using a wheelchair in his every movement.

–“Disability is an issue that affects everyone.  It is not a unique and special issue related to poverty.  Disability can cause harm to everyone in every relevant history and in the country, nation, and at any time.”

–Whether we live in Europe or Africa, or whether you are rich or poor, disability is a problem of all people and not only a problem of the disabled.

(Slide credit: The Songambele Initiative)

They winded up the session by giving a chance to the Toa tutors who participated in the games to give feedback.  Mr. Abdullah asked them questions such as:

  1. What do you think the challenges that persons with disability are going through from your short experience?
  2. How did you feel in your short time as a disabled person?
  3. Do you think you can look at disability from a different perspective after this experience?

The feedback from the participants who were involved in the games was as follows:

  1. The first person seated in the wheelchair said it was hard to move and it needs much time to get used to it; the other person said she failed to move at all with the wheelchair.
  2. Next, one person who had covered her eyes with a piece of cloth said that to get used to that situation was hard and she felt like she is missing something. The other person said that situation actually made her not to feel shy and she was comfortable!  The last person said she felt like she wanted to see the facilitator when he was presenting, and she wanted to write but she could not manage to do it.
  3. The last person who had put tissue in her ears said she wished to hear what the facilitator was presenting and that she did not feel comfortable with such a situation.

Finally, Mr. Abdullah gave room to attendees to ask questions.  Also, the Toa staff were given workshop survey questions for evaluation to fill about the workshop.  Final recommendations included that we all need to remember that everyone should respect people with disabilities because they are as typical as people with no disabilities.  It was also agreed that there should be a day when Toa Nafasi and Songambele to participate in different sport games as a challenge!

On behalf of all of us at The Toa Nafasi Project, I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to The Songambele Initiative for sharing their time and expertise with us.  We so value this highly fruitful partnership and look forward to further collaborations in our joint missions to support Tanzanians with physical disabilities and intellectual impairments.  Ahsanteni sana!!

(Photo credit: The Songambele Initiative)