Grace Lyimo is the founder of Connects Autism Tanzania and the mother of a 23-year-old adult with autism.  Mama Grace, who has degrees in nursing, midwifery and public health, has held administrative positions for a leading international volunteer organization and for the Peace Corps in the region. She is a community leader who has worked for vulnerable youth in a broader sense as a founding member of KIWOCE, the Kilimahewa Women’s and Orphan’s Educational Centre. Mama Grace has three other sons and is active on the Boards of several educational institutions.

Grace Lyimo, Executive Director 
Eunice Tondi Elibariki , Chairperson

Stefanie is a special needs teacher from Germany who works with individuals with autism. Stefanie came to Tanzania in 2016 to volunteer with Connects Autism Tanzania. While in Tanzania, she worked with the teachers and students at the special needs unit in Sanya- Juu (Siha- District) and helped to develop individual development plans (IEP) for each student. Stefanie currently works as a special needs teacher in Germany and is working to create a relationship between Connects Autism Tanzania and a German University.

Samuel Onesmo

Magdalen received her Diploma in Cooperative Management and Accounts from Moshi Cooperative University. She speaks both Swahili and English. Magdalen is excited to be working with CAT because she wants to give a helping hand to people living with disabilities in Tanzanian communities. She is grateful for the opportunity to work with CAT and help create awareness about intellectual disabilities.

Our Team

Rashid Rajabu has worked in special needs education for the majority of his career. For ten years Mr. Rajabu developed a special needs unit in Moshi. In 2013 he was posted by the Minister of Education to be a Special Needs Education Coordinator in the Siha district.  In this position, Mr. Rajabu provides support to special needs teachers and advocates for individuals with autism and other intellectual disabilities.

Stefanie Heuer, Volunteer
Kerri Elliott 

Connects Autism Tanzania is very proud to announce their new Chairperson, Eunice Tondi Elibariki.  Eunice is the City Special Needs Education Officer for Arusha and worked as a special education teacher for six years. Eunice holds a Bachelor of Education from The Open University of Tanzania, as well as a Diploma and Certificate of Special Education from Patandi Special Needs Teachers College.

Felista Mangalu, General Secretary

Samuel Onesmo has been a primary school special needs education teacher for almost 26 years. He is currently teaching at an inclusive primary school in Arusha and acts as a coordinator of all other inclusive schools in Arusha city. As a board member, Mr. Onesmo serves as a link between the work of CA Tanzania and the local government and education officials in Arusha. 

Mary Laswai works as an administrative assistant for the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority.  Previously she has worked for the Tanzanian Red Cross Society as a personal secretary and for Cross Cultural Solutions.  She joined CA Tanzania in order to share her advocacy within the communications industry, spreading greater awareness of this condition within the community at large. 

Stella Hiriji
Dominick H. Otaru, Treasurer

Edward is the Managing Director of Pristine Trails Adventures and Safaris.  His brother, Erick, has autism and has been the motivator for Edward to become involved in advocacy for those with intellectual disabilities.

Grace James hold a Bachelor's degree in Education from the University of Arusha and a Diploma in Internet Technology from the Arusha Institute of Accountancy.  Grace is happy to join Connects Autism Tanzania to help educate the community about autism and other cognitive disabilities.

Antonia Lekule

​Kerri Elliott is a special needs teacher from the United States.  She holds a B.S. in special education and a Masters of Education in curriculum development.  A certified learning behavior specialist, Kerri came to Tanzania in 2008 as a volunteer.  After meeting Grace Lyimo she learned about the challenges facing children with disabilities and their families.  She subsequently agreed to help Mama Grace develop an organization, Autism Connects Tanzania (ACT) to advocate for these families and educate Tanzanian society, particularly the educational sector, about the capabilities and needs of those with autism.  
After her first visit in 2008, Kerri split her time between her teaching position in the U.S. and her work in Tanzania.  Since 2014, however, she has lived in Tanzania, during which time she assisted Mama Grace in transitioning ACT to a registered Tanzanian NGO, Connects Autism Tanzania.  While working as the Educational Lead for Silverleaf Academies in Moshi, she continues to advise and participate in the work of Connects Autism Tanzania. 

Body: Stella Hirji is a former teacher who now manages a tour company in Arusha.  She has a daughter, Mary, who demonstrated intellectual disabilities and a hearing deficit at an early age.  Similar to Mama Grace, Mrs. Hiriji struggled to find schools and resources to support her daughter’s development. Mrs. Hiriji still seeks ways for Mary, who is now 32 years old, to become productive in society.  Mrs. Hiriji joined CA Tanzania to advocate for others whose disabilities who face similar obstacles

Felista Mangalu works as the curator of the Tanzanian Natural History Museum. She has a nephew who is autistic and thereby developed an interest in creating awareness about this and other intellectual disabilities within Tanzanian society.  After meeting Grace Lyimo, she joined in efforts to assist these children and now works to bring private and government institutions together for the benefit of this population. 

Dominick Otaru is a Senior Procurement and Supplies Officer for Tanapa. He holds an MBA in Corporate Management from Mzumbe University. He brings his management skills to bear on the development of CA Tanzania.

Edward Lyimo
Mary M. Laswai
Magdalena Shayo, Program Assistant and Administrative Manager
Unganisha Elimisha
Board Members

Antonia Lekule has been a public health nurse since 1986, acting in various capacities including teacher and nutrition training, anti-natal care, infant feeding and HIV prevention of maternal child transmission. She has worked in numerous districts and hospitals including Ruvuma, Arusha, Njombe and Dar es Salaam. She is now involved in community projects directed toward women’s well being

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Rashid Rajabu
Unganisha Elimisha
Grace James Programmes Manager