Author Archives: Tracey Swanson

Everyone reached the summit

Our climbers have arrived at Millennium Camp where they will spend the night. They had left Barafu Hut at 12:15 AM and arrived at Uhuru Peak at about 7:45 AM. The guides serenaded the group all the way up to keep everyone awake and moving. The singing was awesome. The sunrise over Africa and the… Continue Reading

Engineers without Borders visit Nyegina to select solar heated stove

Partner organization update: In August 2011, the Northern Illinois chapter of Engineers without Borders made another onsite visit to gather information for the design of a more energy efficient cooking system that would reduce the fuel consumption. After review of the findings they chose to install the Lion Stove which is designed to be energy… Continue Reading

One more flight to go!

We are now waiting at Amsterdam airport to board our last flight home to the US. Students took a trip into Amsterdam city for breakfast at a cafe and walk around, while Prof. Thurmaier met an old friend (from 5th grade) and sipped coffee on their balcony overlooking the river. Had to work through some… Continue Reading

Reflections on Culture and Influence

Wednesday’s seminars included reflections on how and when we as outsiders 1. confront culture, 2. embrace culture, 3. try to influence culture in Tanzania. It is more content than a blog post can manage, but suffice it to say it was an excellent assessment of our month of observations. We agreed that it was worth… Continue Reading

Second Day in Dar

We are in 2nd day in Dar. We had great meeting this morning with HakiElimu (a Tanzanian nonprofit that made a pledge of books for the library once there is a place for them) and now we are at U of Dar es Salaam with a student mixer. Tonight we dine as guests of the… Continue Reading

Rest & Relaxation

After 3 intensive weeks of long days and good works, Sunday has been a day of rest and relaxation, with a spice farm tour and time at a private beach (essential during Ramadan in Zanzibar). We were pure tourists. Nelisha tried out natural lipstick, Rachel (left) and Kate tried out spicy new shades, and the… Continue Reading

Quick Update

We had a fine last day in Musoma. Met with local government officials in the morning seminar, and faith-based NGOs in the afternoon. We had last minute shopping and a farewell dinner at the Afrilux Hotel. Next up, volunteers headed home, student group to Zanzibar! Continue Reading

2013 Serengeti Safari

A game drive doesn’t get much better than: Seeing a leopard with 2 babies in a tree. Watching a cheetah catch a baby gazelle, then not kill it but give it to her baby cheetah to play “catch the gazelle!” It was amazing to watch. Every few minutes the baby cheetah would let the gazelle… Continue Reading

30th Wedding Anniversary

Sunday was for celebrating the 30th wedding anniversary of Kurt and Jeanine/Baba na Mama Anna. There was the 2 hour special Mass (9-11am) presided by Bishop Michael, followed by gift giving, choir performance, and lunch. Gifts to the happy couple included 2 live hens, which Jeanine graciously held for the couple. (They were donated to… Continue Reading

Work Day and Volunteer Island Visit

Today’s project work was a half day. We spent about an hour helping to construct the sign announcing the project (financing, contractor, etc) with each student pounding some nails, then erecting the sign. Later we were passing more sand with students, UMABU board members moving rocks, and NIU students Nelisha Gray and Lindsay Schoeder practicing… Continue Reading

Burgers in Musoma

The cross cultural training sometimes goes from US to Tanzania! We discovered the wonderful cafe behind the Anglican Church that actually serves hamburgers…on a bun….and they taste great! They have food for all kinds of other tasty food too (we have 3 vegetarians in our group). Burude Ndago, our principal logistics manager, had never tasted… Continue Reading

Microfinance around Musoma

The 2nd seminar day was focused on microfinance as a development tool. We visited three microfinance NGOs in the morning: FINCA, AFREDA, and SACCOS Musoma. We learned how they work and who are their clientele. In the afternoon, we met with 19 women from various microfinance groups that work with AFREDA and UMABU to develop… Continue Reading

First Work Day

This was our first work day, and we spent most of the time moving sand from piles into the floor frame. By Thursday we will probably be pouring cement around the rocks that the workers will place on the sand base we laid today. We passed the sand by shovels dropped in cement bags and… Continue Reading

Kiswahili Introductions at Nyegina

The premier event of Monday, July 8, was the NIU students introducing themselves in Kiswahili to the assembled students of Nyegina Secondary School. This was courageous, since they only had a week of Kiswahili language training! But they did a fine job. Of course, they had the students howling with laughter, beginning with Brandi’s bio… Continue Reading

Volunteers Arrived and Islands Visit

Good News! The TDS volunteer group arrived at Epheta in Musoma this evening, about 6pm. All their baggage came with them! They are tired but in good spirits. The student group spent the day on Lake Victoria, visiting two islands with fishing villages. There are many problems on these islands. One is supposed to be… Continue Reading

Last Language Class

Our last language class ended with students perfecting their introductory paragraphs and learning about the challenges of the Tanzanian education system. Standing next to me is Fr. Ed Gorczaty, director of Makoko Language School. In front of me are teachers Dismas, Daniel, and Sylvester. Left foreground is lead teacher Mw. Magdelena. The midterm exam for… Continue Reading

Wi-Fi at Epheta

There is now wi-fi at Epheta, Musoma! It was comical watching 6 students try to all get onto the wifi at the same time when we returned from language lessons today about 3:30. Needless to say, wi-fi traffic jam! There are still some kinks to work out, but hopefully fine tuning tomorrow will help. Once… Continue Reading

First trip to Musoma Market

We had a successful market outing last night (July 1) and several women found skirts and kangas. (Picture to be posted soon!) We have the wireless internet network set up and hope to have use tomorrow when the internet is “turned on” by the internet provider. Now we are looking for a volunteer who could… Continue Reading

The first day of language lessons

FROM THE STUDENTS: The first day of language lessons was really intense, but fun and interesting. It made us think about our own language and the meaning of certain words, for example, the way we express appreciation. One of the words we learned today was “karibu,” which means welcome. At first, we thought that it… Continue Reading

From Arusha to Musoma

We had a VERY long drive from Arusha to Musoma today. We left after breakfast (about 8am) from Arusha. We stopped at Old Dupai Gorge for lunch and lecture on Mary Leakey’s discovery of Australopithicus fossil. This picture is taken of the group at the site (with host Fr. Kazeri). We saw lions, Cape Buffalo,… Continue Reading

Study Abroad Update 1

Hujambo! The NIU Study Abroad to Tanzania is now safely in Arusha. We had many delays and several miracles, but everyone is here, just missing 4 bags. (We ran out of miracles when they let Whitney into the country without a yellow fever vaccine, because we came through Naiobi (Kenya). So today we are visiting… Continue Reading

Last day in Tanzania

Yesterday we had a shopping day at the market and the AIDS/HIV NGO. Evening was a big birthday bash for Anna and Nadia, with a huge cake and Nyegina School Choir original songs of celebration of their birthdays. Bishop Michael attended as well, and gave warm thanks for all of our work and our special… Continue Reading

They’re back!

We just returned from picking up the climbers. All arrived at the gate in relatively good shape and most were able to help the local economy by purchasing T-Shirts and art works from the vendors who congregate at the gate. They’re anxious to shower and celebrate. They had amazing success in reaching the summit by… Continue Reading

Update from Springlands Hotel

I’m sorry to report that we had no news from the mountain yesterday. Will let you know if we hear anything today. My understanding is that if the hikers make it to a certain point and cannot go on, they wait at the camp while others go up. They reconnect at the camp when the… Continue Reading

One climber returning early

We had news this morning from the climbers: one is coming down the mountain today, aborting the climb. Staying at the Springlands Hotel turns out to be a very good thing, which Madaraka arranged for us. Springlands is owned and operated by Zara Tours, the outfitter guiding our people on the mountain. So if anyone… Continue Reading

From the adventures of Leroy and Georgette

Not all of our volunteers are climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. Two, Georgette (who you’ve heard from in previous posts) and Leroy are travelling to sites throughout northern Tanzania. If you’ve joined us for past volunteer and study trips, you’ll be familiar with some of these places already. No calls from the climbers today, Wednesday June 6,… Continue Reading

Countdown to Kili Climb

Our group of intrepid volunteers will depart today, June 2, for Tanzania to begin their journey to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa’s tallest mountain. They will head to Kilimanjaro International Airport and arrive in Moshi on Sunday evening. The next day, after breakfast on the morning of June 11, they begin their ascent. Supported… Continue Reading

Unforgettable Smiles

My trip to Tanzania was an unforgettable experience of contrasts and differences. The people we met were so welcoming that I felt a connection with them almost immediately. The children have an insatiable appetite for learning and are very knowledgeable despite the fact that they don’t own textbooks for school. The local government officials (with… Continue Reading

Pictures from an Expedition

Here are three pictures from Musoma, Tanzania from our group’s trip. This is a picture of our group’s first visit to the future site of the new girls’ dormitory.  In the picture we are standing on the base of the foundation.  The stones piled on top will be fitted together on top of the dirt… Continue Reading