Bagamoyo Slave Port Museum (25June) - June 26th, 2016

Sunday was a leisurely drive north of Dar es Salaam to Bagamoyo, the slave port for the East African slave trade, the home of the first Christian church in Tanzania, and the administrative capital of the German colonial occupation. The Catholic Church Museum in Bagamoyo is really excellent, and the students spent a good hour working through the exhibits on the slave trade, the work of missionaries to abolish it, and the rise and fall of Bagamoyo as a town.

BeachVolbalBago1Lunch at the nearby Stella Maris resort took 2 hours to get our food, which was offset by walks at low tide out into the Indian Ocean for shells and to watch a group of fishermen hauling in their net, by hand, standing in the waters.
There was also time to get in a game of beach volleyball with some others at the resort. In the picture, NIU student Lisa Holland prepares to serve as Jake Swick, Bernadette Chatman, Leah Nicolini and U of Dar guest student Sillas (hand raised) prepares for her serve. Great fun!

Mixer of NIU and Saint Augustine Students (24 June) - June 25th, 2016

Our stay in Mwanza was short yet very satisfying. Arriving after noon, we dropped bags at St. Dominic’s hostel on the lake before finding lunch. DSC03664Then we headed to St. Augustine University in Mwanza where we met with a group of students from economics, sociology, and public relations/marketing. We had a lively and engaging discussion comparing US and Tanzanian educational systems, and the implications of each for economic development. We learned much from each other, and students exchanged email and Facebook addresses to remain in contact. We had our farewell dinner with Padri Misana, Jeanine Thurmaier, and Mary Lenz at the lakeside Tilapia Restaurant. We were pleased to be joined by recent NIU graduate Mary Okeyo (M in Ed) and her husband John Ouma. The breeze kept mosquitoes away and the candles were bright enough to light our faces and dinners!

Thursday (23 June): Grand Opening of LCRC - June 23rd, 2016


Children get their first opportunity to read the books in the children’s room of the new Madaraka Nyerere Library and Community Resource Center (June 24, 2016).

It is hard to capture in words the emotion of stepping into the new Madaraka Nyerere Library and Community Resource Center in Nyegina at the grand opening after the ribbon was cut and the doors opened. The shelves stocked with books, the children rushing to the children’s room to look at the books, the excitement of the distinguished guests–including the district commissioner–that this is a “world-class” library and community learning center.

JeanineBookGiftMosesEach of the volunteers and students had purchased a Kid’s book in Swahili language to donate to the library for its new collection, and Mama Anna (Jeanine Thurmaier) was pleased to present an English-Swahili dictionary and a reading book (she is pictured reading the title to the crowd at the opening ceremony). DSC02335

All of the tutoring that TDS/NIU volunteers had done with the area high school teachers paid off handsomely. As the district commissioner toured the newly opened facility, teachers were at the computers in the teacher resource room and were showing him how they were accessing the internet to find maps for teaching geography better, soil chemistry worksheets, and much more. He was really impressed, and he was caught by surprise at how comprehensive the LCRC is and how it can serve area students and teachers in many different ways. His speech of nearly an hour had the audience in rapt attention as he pounded away at the theme of information leads to knowledge, and knowledge gives one the power to change his or her situation, the community, and Tanzania.

Madaraka Nyerere, also a guest of honor at the opening ceremony, stressed that Tanzanians needed to be donating their time and talents to the library to make sure it was effective as a learning center, and not just an empty building. This was a theme echoed by Dr. Thurmaier (aka Baba Anna) in his remarks (delivered in terrible Swahili), and in the remarks of the district commissioner. Madaraka also donated Tsh 100,000 to buy new books for the library. The wonderful celebration was concluded with a delicious community meal.

Wednesday (22 June) - June 23rd, 2016

Wednesday morning was freed to have a theory and practice seminar on the assigned readings for the NIU course, serendipitous because the Musoma local government canceled the scheduled seminar at the last minute. One has a sense they don’t like people asking them questions about lack of services or how the Tanzanian government is going to contribute to the library and teacher resource project…. In any case, the student discussion was rich and helped us all process what we have been reading from scholarly literature with what we have been seeing in the field here in rural Tanzania.

After lunch at Rehema Cafe (Anglican Church outreach) we visited the Lake Victoria Disability Center and students and volunteers were amazed at the fast progress that Dennis Maina and his staff have been making at their new campus (after leaving Musoma town center for more space). The number and scope of disabled Tanzanians being served by LVDC continues to expand, and the new dormitories they are building will be another catalyst for growth.

NewTZclothesGroupGiftsPleasant surprise coming back to Epheta was delivery of gifts from our Nyegina hosts: suits and dresses for each member of our group. We are able to wear these to the Grand Opening Ceremony of the library tomorrow in Nyegina.


Tuesday (21 June): Connecting Teachers to the Internet and Beyond - June 21st, 2016

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We had a terrific 2nd day of NIU students and TDS volunteers training area high school teachers on internet access and other computer skills. Most teachers from the Thursday session were back for further lessons today, and spent time learning EXCEL skills for tracking and computing grades, and Powerpoint for making presentations.








The shelves for the main library arrived about 4pm as we were concluding our training sessions, and Mama Anna (aka Jeanine Thurmaier) conferred with the designated Nyegina librarian (Moses teaches at Nyegina Secondary School) about the placement of the shelves in the main hall. Meanwhile, the shelves for the children’s room were getting ready for installation in the library (pictured).


Sunday (19 June): Singing and History Lessons - June 20th, 2016

Sunday morning was an enriching experience, as we attended one of two church services officiated by Fr. Kazeri, an 8am at his home parish in Nyegina (with lots of high school students) and anther at 10:15 at Etaro. Many members had never attended a Roman Catholic service, but even those who were Roman Catholic had not experienced a service so full of beautiful, lively and participatory music and dance. There was so much energy in each service. Students and volunteers introduced themselves to the congregations at the end of each service as part of community announcements.

After lunch at Fr. Kazeri’s house, we headed to Butiama, ancestral and retirement home of Mw. President Julius Nyerere, first president of Tanzania. One of his sons, Madaraka, climbed Kilimanjaro with Kurt and Jeanine Thurmaier in 2012 to raise the first funds that started building the library and community resource center that is opening on Thursday (June 24, 2016). After visiting the President Nyerere Museum, we walked up the hill to have a guided tour by Madaraka of the former president’s home, which is beautifully built into the side of the mountain, with boulders integrated into the walls and floors, including a sitting room with petroglyphs as part of the ceiling/wall. It was a wonderful day, capped with a stop at a brand new Musoma supermarket that sold ice cream!


Jake Swick speaking with Madaraka in the president’s personal library.

NIU Student Lisa Holland cilmbs the millet bin for inspection as Madaraka Nyerere watches.


New Levels of Poverty: Lake Victoria Islands of Irigia and Rukuba - June 17th, 2016

DSC02585Yesterday we toured the Lake Victoria islands of Irigia and Rukuba. The welcome we received from the core communities on both islands was very warm. They don’t receive many visitors, especially Americans, and they were eager to show their progress. In fact, there are now some permanent structures on Irigia (a few shops and a church), although most housing is still reed walls and plastic roofs.

Catch of the Day, Nile Perch at Irigia IslandThe most startling aspect of the tour for students and volunteers is the level of poverty on the islands. Our seminar discussion in the evening revealed that group members are realizing that there are strata of poverty, even among the bottom billion poorest people. Among those making less than $2/day are families living on much less than $2/day. Another troubling aspect of the visits is that there are so many young children who are living in abject poverty on the islands. Some of the children did not know how old they were (even when asked by Fr. Kazeri, who they know).

We are all challenged to discern how we, as individuals and as a country, can make a difference in the lives of these children and their parents. The solutions are not clear.
Mixing with Irigia Island residents

First Teacher Training at LCRC - June 17th, 2016

DSC02332 We had an absolutely fabulous “beyond expectations” day of NIU students and TDS volunteers training Bukwaya area high school teachers on how to use the Library and Community Resource Center (LCRC) computers to access the internet to improve student learning in their classrooms. We had designed a syllabus for gaining skills over 2 days of training, but most teachers worked through the full syllabus in the 4 hour morning session. After lunch, they were able to demonstrate to their NIU or TDS tutors that they could identify a search topic and execute the search. One physics teacher was excited about finding the Hubble Space Telescope site, another teacher was looking at a site with complex mathematical equations. Geography teachers were identifying sites with specific maps…the list goes on.

DSC02334 We hope to help them train a new group of teachers on the same skills next Tuesday. So we are advancing to the train the trainers step already. We will also have the printers for the Teacher Resource Center room in the LCRC installed by next Tuesday, so we will help them learn that step in the process. The goal is that they can download and print a page or 2 from an internet site to pass one or two copies that illustration or graphic (e.g., a map) around their classroom for a lesson. They are excited to be able to do that.

We note that it is good that the Maevis Beacon typing program has been installed on each of the LCRC computers, since many of the teachers have not had any training typing with a keyboard, so they will need to become proficient with that before they can start moving to more complex IT applications for their classrooms.

We are eager to move our Rotary Club grant application forward for providing more technology and training to teachers who are eager to learn and use it.


Breakfast with Swahili Lessons - June 17th, 2016

Friday morning: we had our last Swahili language lesson with teacher Joyce Masso. Pictured is NIU student Lisa Holland responding to Masso’s request (in Swahili) to please pass the bread (makati). Students and volunteers made rapid progress with daily lessons at breakfast with Mw. Joyce.


Safari through Serengeti - June 17th, 2016


The TDS-NIU group had a terrific safari through the Serengeti with Trek2Kili  on their way to Musoma. We had close encounters with lions, elephants, giraffe, zebra, but few wildebeest until we left the park, when we drove through the migration in the Grumeti Preserve on the way to Isenye. In the park, also had classic viewing of a cheetah atop a termite mound, and a fleeting look at a leopard climbing down its tree into the tall grass. Another excellent safari from Trek2Kili, which has never disappointed NIU or TDS in providing top quality guides/drivers who are fluent in the ways of the animals and environment of the Serengeti National Park.



First Days in Musoma - June 16th, 2016

Tuesday (14 June) was a very enriching day. We had a profitable morning discussion of the proposed governance and operations policies for the Madaraka Nyerere Library and Community Resource Center (LCRC). Students raised very good questions about access, cost of services, and sustainability. After lunch in Nyegina, we had a chance for first time booting of the computers we will use for training teachers on Thursday. All went smoothly. Then we moved to Etaro to observe elections of community group members to the new UMABU governing board. It was a fascinating look at civil society and grass roots democracy in a rural community of a developing country. We appreciated the women who were willing to stand for election and represent their perspectives on the UMABU board and future development projects.

Wednesday (15 June) began with Kiswahili lessons with Mwalimu Joyce Masso continued in the morning at breakfast, practicing greetings and learning how to ask for utensils and breakfast foods. Main seminar was a visit to FINCA micro finance office in the morning to learn about their process, clients, and training. Following a visit to the Tupendane shop and Musoma market, we headed to Nyegina for lunch with 3 microfinance borrowers from Etaro village who discussed their perspectives on microfinance. It was a very enriching discussion; the woman and two men who shared their business practice with us are also leaders in their community, and we could see their strategic thinking at work in their business and community perspectives.

Bernadette Chatman is tasting her ugali dipped in sauce as Lisa Holland rolls her ugali in her hand before dipping in the sauce

Bernadette Chatman is tasting her ugali dipped in sauce as Lisa Holland rolls her ugali in her hand before dipping in the sauce

Special Dinner Guest, Fr. Kazeri, lectured on cultural importance  of ugali (Tanzanian traditional dinner starch) and showed everyone how to eat ugali and students and volunteers practiced eating ugali by hand.

The evening seminar discussion focused on most important experiences and observations so far in the program, and most important questions to be answered by end of program. Great discussion.


Journey Across Northern Tanzania - June 14th, 2016

The NIU-TDS group visited the famous site where Mary Leakey discovered Australopithecus …on to Serengeti.

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They Made it to Arusha! - June 10th, 2016

We have successfully arrived in Arusha! Enjoying dinner at Hotel Pepe, just up the street from our hostel. Long journey to get here, and everyone happy to meet Fr. Kazeri at the airport.

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Students and Volunteers Arrive in Doha Safely - June 9th, 2016

We have made it to Doha, Qatar, after a very long flight (7200 miles, 12+ hours). At 11th hour, Jill and Cindy were still smiling on the plane!

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Dinner at the Horizon Manor hotel in Doha filled student stomachs after a swim in the rooftop pool. Wake up call is 5am tomorrow, for 6am shuttle to airport, for 8:30 flight to Tanzania! People are tired…and EXCITED!


Getting Ready with Swahili Lessons - June 8th, 2016

The 2016 TDS Work-Study/NIU Study Abroad to Tanzania got started this year with 2 Saturdays filled with Swahili language and culture lessons with Dr. Selena Mushi, from Northeastern Illinois University.

NIU student Leah Nicolini gets advice on her personal introduction she is writing in Swahili.

NIU student Leah Nicolini gets advice on her personal introduction she is writing in Swahili.

Focus has been on gathering vocabulary and grammar so that each volunteer and student can introduce themselves in Swahili at the grand opening ceremony of the Madaraka Nyerere Library and Community Resource Center in Nyegina. They will also be able to use their introductions when they meet their group of high school teachers who will be learning from NIU students and TDS volunteers how to access the internet to find teaching materials for their classrooms to improve student learning.

This blog will be the best place to follow the group’s progress as we leave the US on June 8 and head to Kilimanjaro Airport in Tanzania. Donations to help buy the computer equipment needed for the teachers to access the internet at the LCRC are much appreciated. Donate now with this link to the Tanzania Development Support webpage.