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.

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

2016 TeacherInternetTrg

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).


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.


Work Day and Volunteer Island Visit - July 13th, 2013

Lindsay and Nelisha practicing masonry at the Nyegina Library site.Lindsay and Nelisha practicing masonry at the Nyegina Library site.

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 masonry (pictured). The TDS volunteers spent the day visiting Rukuba and Irigia islands (which the students visited the weekend before). The island visit is an unforgettable experience, as one sees abject poverty at a level that is difficult to imagine and comprehend.

Video by Mark Biernacki, Music by African Tribal Orchestra

Wonderful Day of Presenting Funds - June 14th, 2012

Yesterday we presented the Nyegina Community with a check for $26,000 to kick off the library and community resource center project.

As we arrived by car to Nyegina, we were greeted by primary and secondary school students and teachers lining both sides of the road, singing and dancing and welcoming us to the village. It was simply awesome! If you have ever been greeted by 2000 singing students, you will get the picture!

We are coming home as different people, not just because we managed to climb to the top of the African continent! Delivering the funds we raised to the Nyegina Community directly has been an emotional experience for each of us.

Jack is welcomed by Nyegina Students

Also very emotional to some of us was touring the new girls dormitory. It was so uplifting to see the girls with beaming smiles standing next to their new beds in their new rooms. They are so excited to be in the new dorm.

Today we are touring the Community Alive/Tupendane NGO and the Nyegina market place (gifts for loved ones at home?) and then  will visit Madaraka Nyerere at his home in Butiama.

Tonight we have a huge birthday/farewell bash with the bishop and our partners at UMABU. Friday we head home….

The Dorm is Finished! - April 7th, 2012

The girls’ dormitory is finished.  After three years since the project started, we have raised over $150,000 to build a dorm for 160 girls.  Furnished with 80 metal bunk beds and a sanitation block, which holds the school’s first flush toilets and running showers, we are proud of our achievement.  Having passed the Tanzanian Government inspection, the Form 5 wing is expected to open later this April.


Project Update on Nyegina Girls’ Dormitory - December 21st, 2011

The girls’ dormitory on the Nyegina school campus is nearly complete. Construction began in 2009 on the two-wing structure which will house 160 girls in forms five and six, the U.S. educational equivalent of fourth and fifth year of high school. Graduating from form six will allow students to go directly to teacher training college or university. The dormitory is part of an expansion program that will enable the school to offer education at this advanced level and the program will begin in the spring of 2012. TDS has provided financial support for this project through contributions from our generous donors. In addition, TDS volunteers traveled to Nyegina in 2009 and 2011 to assist with the actual construction.

Study Room in Dormitory

Study Room in Dormitory

Installing Toilets in Sanitation Wing

Installing Toilets in Sanitation Wing

With the girls’ dormitory near completion, we are undertaking another opportunity to support the community’s efforts to create a 21st-century educational facility on the Nyegina School campus. Plans are being drafted for a community library/resource center. Architecture for Humanity Chicago is our newest partner and has agreed to undertake the design of a combined library, teacher enhancement center and computer lab. The facility will serve the Nyegina School, a nearby government primary school and the village of Nyegina. Julie Force and Laura Bowe, architects representing Architecture for Humanity Chicago, were among the volunteers who traveled to Nyegina in July 2011. Julie and Laura surveyed the proposed site at Nyegina School and met with Father Leo Kazeri, UMABU representatives, Nyegina School officials and other stakeholders in the project to develop the plan. This will be only the second library in this district of 2 million inhabitants, and a crucial piece of infrastructure for the schools and the community.

Full View of Dormitory, Sanitation Wing in Foreground

Full View of Dormitory, Sanitation Wing in Foreground

$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.

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!

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.

Tin Roof Sunday, and many years to come - June 26th, 2010

Tin Roof Sundaes are one of my favorites, but seeing the roof on the first unit for 80 girls  in our dormitory project is a real treat. We have raised over $70,000 on our way to building this dorm for 160 girls. We have another $100,000 to raise, and we need lots of help, but we can be very proud of our progress so far. And the girls will be able to move into the new dormitory as soon as the walls are plastered, electricity installed, and other details. Can’t wait to see those pictures!

Matron entryway with roof on the entire Unit 1 length, 28 May 2010.

New roof is installed on Unit 1 of the girls dormitory, 28 May 2010.

Raising the ROOF! - June 26th, 2010

The roof takes shape on Unit 1 (for the first 80 girls in the dormitory, and their matrons). Roof rafters carried by students to the work site are in place over the matrons’ rooms and the longer section for the students.

View of rafters installation on Unit 1 of girls dormitory from vantage of matrons’ rooms, 17 May View of rafters installation on Unit 1 of girls dormitory from vantage of future shower/toilet module platform, 17 May 2010.

View of rafters installation on Unit 1 of girls dormitory from vantage of future shower/toilet module platform, 17 May 2010.

Roof rafters are installed over matrons’ rooms and Unit 1 of girls dormitory, 17 May 2010.

Putting the Roof on Unit 1. - June 26th, 2010

Progress on Unit 1 of the girls dormitory! The work crew for building the roof includes students (boys and girls) carrying rafters to the dormitory building site.

Pictures from an Expedition - July 8th, 2009

Here are three pictures from Musoma, Tanzania from our group’s trip.

First Visit to the Work Site

First Visit to the Work Site

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 (as they are on the walls) and then very thin concrete poured into the cracks and on top.   During the next two weeks the group, along with the hired workers, and teachers and students at the school poured the concrete for the entire foundation of this building using a bucket brigade of small pans about the size of woks. On the far left of the picture you can see some workers sitting under the trees, in the middle is a group of teachers from the school talking to the construction foreman, and on the left are people from the student group.

Lucy Carter Making Friends with the Prize

Lucy Carter Making Friends with the Prize

The Diocese of Musoma held a choir competition in conjunction with the celebration of our arrival in Musoma.  This cow, along with some new drums, was given as the prize to the winning choir.  Lucy Carter from the student group is pictured here making friends with the cow.  Shortly after the competition, the cow got loose and had to be recaptured.

A Nun on the Bus

A Nun on the Bus

This picture from inside our bus shows a nun we gave a ride to the Diocese Center in Musoma.  As with many things usually provided by local government in the United States, public transport falls primarily to the private sector.  In most of Tanzania, those without their own private transportation (the majority) can pay to use a share taxi called a dala-dala (mutatu in Kenya).  Although the combined size of the student and service groups made our bus fairly crowded, it was quite spacious compared to the dala-dalas which are packed with as many people, cargo, and animals as possible.

Last Work Day - June 25th, 2009

Our last work day on the dorm project was Thursday, 25 June, as we have debriefing meeting and lunch with the bishop on Friday.

The walls are rising from all of the concrete we poured on the floor. The outlines of the dividing walls for the rooms inside the dorm are visible in the pic below, taken at the beginning of the morning.


Most of our time was spent moving yet another pile of bricks onto the dorm floor so the masons can easily access them and keep building the walls. There are three more loads of bricks yet to be delivered, for a total of about 20,000 bricks! It is a good thing there are plenty of Form 4 (senior) boys and girls available to help move them. This pic shows the Form 4 boys have arrived to help move the pile onto the dorm floor. (Girls have also taken turns; they alternate days on the build with studying for the national comprehensive exams.)


The last work of the group was helping to pour the concrete foundation for the shower/toilet area at the rear of the dorm. Mama Anna (Jeanine) took one last look at the progress on the dormitory for 160 girls and was quite pleased with all that we have accomplished, both in raising the money to buy the materials, and to help actually create the foundation for taking Nyegina Secondary School to the next level of academic excellence.

Cheetahs, Hippos, and bricks - June 23rd, 2009

The last three days have been among the highest points of the trip for me. The experience in the Serengeti Nat’l Park is something that I will never forget. The opportunity to see elephants and giraffes grazing less than a few steps outside your vehicle is hard to describe. Early yesterday morning we even had the opportunity to watch a pack of five cheetahs work their way the through the tall grass as the approached a line of zebras. Finally, my particular land rover saw an amazing sight…..a hippo out of the water crossed just a few steps in front of our vehicle and made for the high grass and water on the other side of the path providing a lasting Serengeti memory that I won’t soon forget.

Today was another high point in terms of the dorm build.  The coordination issues that had troubled some of our earlier work were noticeably absent today. We also benefited from increased community support which helped our efforts to move thousands of bricks immensely. In the next three days I’m excited to visually see the outer walls of the girls dorm go up, and I’m sure it will be a little bittersweet as we say our goodbyes to everyone here in the Musoma/Nyegina community that has made our experience all the more vibrant and memorable.

Camping on Serengeti a Success - June 23rd, 2009

Our Sunday/Monday safari into the Serengeti was a big success. We enjoyed seeing lots of animals, with twiga (giraffe), tembo (elephant), simba (lion) and leopards as highlights. Camping overnight was also very cool. Lots of pics to share on that, but slow internet suggests adding pics later.

Today was spent on the job site, moving bricks in place to build the walls tomorrow (Wednesday). The foundation layer has been placed by the technicians (fundi) and that will let us build walls quickly tomorrow. These pics show the Nyegina Secondary School board members joining the brick line on 23 June 2009. The other pic is of Mama Anna and Baba Anna working with NSS teacher Dionse on the brickline that day.


Mama Anna and Baba Anna work with teacher Dionese on the brickline (23Je09)

Mama Anna and Baba Anna work with teacher Dionese on the brickline (23Je09)

The Wailing Wall - June 20th, 2009

We learned that Saturdays are half days for work, but not before standing around awhile waiting for the fundi to return to work with us in the afternoon!

The picture shows many in the group “wailing” on a wall inside the PC Lab, breaking off the smooth surface so plaster will adhere. It was an outside wall and is now inside the new PC lab. PCLabWailingWall(20Je09)

Several of the group also broke off and continued to work with the fundi to pour more of the floor for the dormitory. Others worked on plastering the inside walls of the PC Lab.

Sunday morning we are off to the Serengeti!

1st Day of Work: Job Well Done! - June 17th, 2009

Work Group at end of long day: UMABU, TDS, students, teachers, laborors

Work Group at end of long day: UMABU, TDS, students, teachers, laborors

This is our work group at the end of a long day. We carried concrete in Chinese woks in several concrete “pail” lines to poor the floor in the PC lab and a section in the dorm. We also helped install windows in the PC lab. Too many videos to load, but lots to show when we get back home!

Laying the floor - June 13th, 2009

This clip shows men laying the rocks for the floor. Next step is pouring the concrete around the rocks to make the floor, with a rebar reinforced concrete ring around the foundation.

All work is by hand, which makes it really amazing to watch.

The building begins! - June 12th, 2009

Here is a picture of the foundation of the new dormitory. It is very big–enough for 160 girls, 2 matrons!

We will only be working on the end closest to the group in the picture.

Also, my new Tanzania phone number is


More pics to come!

NIU Group Stands at corner of new dormitory building site

NIU Group Stands at corner of new dormitory building site