This is NIU Study Abroad at Makoko Language School, Musoma, Tanzania - June 3rd, 2015

This video was taken this morning while we were on our tea break from Swahili classes. Enjoy!


From Arusha to Musoma - June 30th, 2013

TDS Olduvai Gorge 2013

2013 Study Abroad Group at Olduvai Gorge

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, elephants, giraffe, lots of zebra, a few wildebeest, a jackal, meercats, and other animals on our fast and VERY bumpy drive across the Serengeti on our way to Musoma. We stopped for drinks and bites hosted by Fr. Garusha at Issenye Parish outside the park (delicious ugali, lamb, fried plantains, and Balimi beer!). Finally got to Epheta, our home for 3 weeks, about 10pm. Everyone is now taking showers and hitting the pillow. We start language lessons at 9am tomorrow!

Update: Brandi’s baggage with clothes is now at Precision Air office in Arusha and we will try to get it on a bus to Musoma on Monday. Prayers and good karma are welcome! Otherwise, we are doing well and students are having a great time already. Stay tuned….


Kurt Thurmaier

Unforgettable Smiles - October 19th, 2011

New TDS Logo

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 whom we met) were obviously reactive rather than proactive and had an attitude of complacency. Consequently, the infrastructure is undeveloped resulting in limited access to clean water, unpaved roads that are almost impassable because of ruts and boulders, a non-existent landline phone system that, among other things, minimizes the effectiveness of any emergency response system that may exist.

The poverty is so extreme and widespread that it is difficult for me to comprehend how people can live that way. The one room huts that dot the roadside at great distances from each other don’t have running water or electricity. The people have to walk long distances to find wood for the stove and water for cooking, bathing and laundry. The only available water often times is dirty and contaminated so it must be boiled before use. The physical labor is assigned to the females and they seemingly assume the role without argument. They walk home carrying five gallon jugs of water or 40 pound bags of grain on their heads because there is no other means of transportation. It’s a very hard life. I don’t know how they continue to hope and cope.

There are people within the community who are educated and aspire to a better way of life for themselves, for the children and for the future of the country. There are civic and social organizations that are making a difference in the lives of the less fortunate, such as the disabled, children orphaned by HIV/AIDS and women and children who have been diagnosed as HIV positive. Many of these organizations receive funding from NGOs in other parts of the world. For example, one of our partner organizations, UMABU, receives financial support from Terre des Hommes, an organization headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.

The group of people with whom we (Tanzania Development Support) partner have a clear perspective of what they must do to improve their plight in life. They recognize that education of the children, particularly the girls, is critical to a promising future for all. They are educated and have an unshakable determination to do what needs to be done to change. I was particularly impressed by the women teachers at the school who told me that they must teach the girls to respect themselves and believe that they deserve a life that is far better than fetching wood and water.

While I was there I noted that social behavior was often dictated by cultural beliefs and traditions but I wasn’t there long enough to learn what these beliefs are. Next time I go I hope to get a better understanding of the cultural influences.

I can’t find the words to describe the gentleness and kindness of the people we met. The beauty is in their hearts and souls and is reflected in their eyes and smiles. The smiles are wide white grins that light up their faces and connected to my soul. That’s the picture that comes to mind when I reflect on the experience.

Tricia DeBoo,
TDS Board Member and 2011 Volunteer Trip Member

$4000 Goal Achieved! - August 6th, 2011

I am so pleased to report that the donations from many friends and family members have helped us reach our goal of raising $4000 to finish buying the materials to finish the girls dormitory. Thank you to all who have contributed to this project! We’ll be posting lots more pictures from the trip in the near future. Stay tuned!

24 Hours Left - July 22nd, 2011

Only 24 hours left until the students leave Tanzania and we only need $700  to reach our goal of $4,000 to finish buying the materials for the dorm. Please help us reach this goal with your donation today.

Bagamoyo was a successful outing!  We ended the day with dinner by the sea side hosted by several professors from Dar University.

Dinner with Justice Bwana - July 22nd, 2011

The students had the chance to have dinner with Tanzania Court of Appeals Justice Steven Bwana last night.  He was gracious to host us as his house for a wonderful meal.  The students enjoyed asking him questions and learning more about Tanzania’s government and politics.

Today we are off to explore Bagamoyo, a historic slave trading town.

Goal in Sight…$3000 Donated! - July 20th, 2011

I am so excited to report that we have reached the $3000 mark toward gathering $4000 in donations by Saturday to buy the materials needed to finish the dormitory for 160 girls at the Nyegina Secondary School. The generous gifts, small and large, are adding up to a wonderful future for girls who are excited about attending 2 more years of school with your help. Please consider helping us reach the final $1000 by Saturday. We are so close!

We are now in Zanzibar, and yesterday we met 2 fantastic NGOs. The first is a group of women who have been an NGO for 20 years, Catalyst for Women Empowerment in Zanzibar. Members of the group, and alumni, include members of parliament in Zanzibar and the Union government, as well as doctors and other professionals. A second group is only 5 months old, a grass-roots, community-based organization (CBO) that is about 62 women and men dedicated to turning their neighborhood in Zanzibar/Stone Town around, fighting school dropouts, drug addiction, and getting their girls to stay in school through secondary school graduation. They were inspiring. Tomorrow we head back to Dar and will spend the evening with a Tanzanian judge who grew up in Etaro, a village neighboring Nyegina; he has recently been appointed to the international criminal court and he wants to say thank you to the students for volunteering to help build the dormitory in Nyegina.

We are making a difference here. Please help us finish this dormitory. It means a whole world of difference to the girls who will live in this dorm for years to come.

Dr. T.

Great Response on $4000 Campaign to Finish Dorm! - July 15th, 2011

We already have over $1500 in donations to finish the last $4000 in materials for the dorm! Thanks to all who have contributed.

Please take a moment to donate toward finishing the dormitory. We only need another $2500 in contributions for this short campaign!

We are working hard today, our last to work on the dorm. We are hauling sand for mixing cement, painting walls, and filling cement around the window frames. We are excited to be seeing progress toward the completion of this dormitory wing.

Thanks for all of your support, spiritual as well as financial! You can use the link below to make a gift online using PayPal:

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online!

Dr. T.

Progress on the dorm - July 15th, 2011

Yesterday volunteers and students worked on painting the dorm.

Dan worked on staining some of the dorm’s new chairs.

Finish the Dorm Wing! - July 13th, 2011

We are getting close to finishing the Form 6 wing of the dormitory. We want to raise $4000 in the next 5 days to buy the materials to finish the structure itself. Please be one of the friends and family members who can contribute $40 to help finish this wing. You can donate at and click on contribute. We can do this!

Moving into Serengeti Camp - July 13th, 2011

This is a quick shot of some group members moving into our Serengeti Camp after our afternoon game drive on Monday.

Julie, Liz, Laura, Zach and Dan compare tents at Serengeti Camp

Successful Safari to Serengeti - July 13th, 2011

We just returned yesterday from a very successful Serengeti safari. The highlight was a dawn drive on Tuesday (12July) where we found a pride of 20 lions after a successful gnu (wildebeast) kill. There were about 10 mothers and 10 cubs feasting (not at the same time!). We also saw this beautiful cheetah (picture) with her eyes on breakfast for her and her 2 cubs.

Mother cheetah eyes a breakfast of gazelle for her and her 2 cubs.

We have three days left before departure. The remaining seminars are with environmental NGOs today, then faith-based NGOs on Thursday, finishing with a mining town and miner care houses on Friday. Dorm work continues, as do our many other projects here.

Electricity is still a big problem, and email/internet access is a big problem with all the rolling blackouts. Sorry for the intermittent communcations.

Working on the Dorm - July 9th, 2011

Ben working on building a window.
Frank and Jill work on the dorm’s roof.
Tina passes bricks with one of school’s girls.
Zach and Liz mix cement with Fr. Kazeri.

The new dormitory - July 6th, 2011

December 2011 Update: We are currently gathering contributions to buy these same beds for the other wing of the dormitory. Please consider making a contribution today.

The new beds
We got to see the new bunk beds yesterday.  In each room there are four new beautiful bunk beds.
Outside of the new form five girls’ dormitory.  What a great sight to see!
Today the study abroad and volunteer group meet with TDS’ partner UMABU.  They sat with us for two hours informing us about their nonprofit and sharing their experiences.

First visit to school and new dormitory - July 6th, 2011

We had a great visit to the school today, and were able to walk through the Form V wing and the sanitation block. It was an emotional moment for those of us who have been working so hard on this project for almost 3 years. What a wonderful sense that we are making a real difference in the lives of these girls.

Walked through the school during their lunch break so there were lots of small groups clustered around our NIU students and volunteers. The students at Nyegina Secondary are very happy to see us, and we are happy to be here.

Pictures of the dorm and the beds will follow. VERY cool!

Dr. T.

Volunteer Group Safely Landed in Nairobi - July 3rd, 2011

Good news.
Obuya Bagaka reports that the TDS volunteer group has safely landed at Nairobi. Only lost one bag (sorry Nick). It will be shipped by bus tomorrow to catch up to Nick in Musoma.

They leave Nairobi at 7am tomorrow (11pm Sunday night in Dekalb) for Musoma, Tanzania!

Baba Anna (Dr. T.)

Kiswahili Classes Ended, but not the studies - July 3rd, 2011


We finished our Kiswahili studies on Friday. Saturday we visited the islands of Irigia and Rukuba. The poverty there is striking. We had some intense discussions last night to reflect about what we saw.

Sunday (today) we had a day off, so we walked into Musoma Town, 1 hour each way. Shopped in the market, and had lunch in the garden of Matvilla Hotel. Walked back with a stop at the Polisi Club by the lake. Relaxing day and much needed after an intense week.

I wanted to send pictures, but it is not very feasible at the moment. This is (clockwise) Zack, Dan, Liz, Frank, and Mary (bottom center) quizzing each other Thursday night for Friday’s last session of Kiswahili class. It was a great experience for all of us.

Everything is going well here except that every day we have rolling blackouts of electricity and that is causing us major headaches with connection to internet, etc. When we have electricity, the area with the server does not, so we have no internet. When server has no electricity, we have no internet even when we have electricity. There is no end in sight for this. So we are using an alternate means of connecting, but it is very expensive.

Thanks for watching the blog. Will try to post something with pictures soon.


Dr. T.

- June 27th, 2011

We had a great first day of language training today (Monday). The 9 of us are split into 2 class sections. We have 3 instructors who rotate between the two. THen in the afternoon the three of them presented cultural training on greetings and being invited into homes. It was very intense and all of us are really pleased with the day.

BTW: I have a phone number correction for Tanzania. I had to get a new SIM.

The correct number for my Tanzania Phone is 011.255.785.9888.49 .

Friends and family and travelers should make that correction on the contact sheet we sent.

Electricity was not available in the city of Musoma most of today, so internet is now back this evening.

Here is a picture of our visit to the water filter family business in Arusha. This is connected to NIU because Dr. Manny Hernandez helped set up the factory with the family that runs it. We are hoping that we can set up a similar operation in Musoma to provide safe, clean water with no energy requirement of the family.

The TZ2011 students visited the NIU connected Arusha Water Filter Factory.

We also stopped at Old Duvai Gorge en route from Arusha to Musoma on Sunday, 26 June. This is a picture of us at the site where Mary Leakey discovered early hominid fossils that began to change our knowledge of where we came from…

Safe & Happy Arrival in Musoma! - June 26th, 2011

I am pleased to report that we arrived this evening at the Epheta Retreat Centre, safe, sound, and pretty tired. It was a long 13 hour day, but a happy one.

We left Arusha at 7:30 this morning (an hour late).We made stops at Old Duvai Gorge (discovery site by Mary Leakey and others of some of our earliest ancestor fossils), the different gates to get through Ngorogoro Crater and the Serengeti Park, and Fr. Kennedy Garusha’s home for a last drink and WC break before the final push to Musoma. Along the way, we had an elephant on the road with us in Ngorogoro, calmly cleaning away overhanging branches on the road, plus in the Serengeti we saw most everything except the big cats and a rhino (which almost nobody is lucky enough to see).

Br. Aquiline welcomed us warmly to Epheta with a dinner ready, and everyone (but me) is taking showers to wash out the dust. Tomorrow we start our first Kiswahili language lesson at 8:30 (12:30PM DeKalb time). We are all excited about the prospect.

More tomorrow, hopefully with pictures! Epheta has a brand new high speed (100mb) internet service! Yes!

Dr. T