Category Archives: Trip Updates

Reports from the field from TDS volunteers and trip participants. If you have friends and family on a trip with us, come here to see what they’re up to.

The Breakfast Wall

The Breakfast Wall

Our climbing crew tackled The Breakfast Wall this morning after breaking camp and kissed the kissing wall. It is one of the most difficult stretches of the journey! Mary Snieckus is the focal figure in this shot. 8.2 miles and 18,577 steps so far today. Yesterday was over 30,000 steps. Note that the sun is… Continue Reading

Meet the Climbers – Kurt Thurmaier

Meet the Climbers – Kurt Thurmaier

We are now one week from the 2019 Kilimanjaro Climb officially beginning! Our climbers are all making their last preparations for the long journey to Tanzania, and are eager to get things underway. Today, we are featuring a climber that almost all in the TDS community are familiar with, co-Founder and President, Dr. Kurt Thurmaier.… Continue Reading

Jason and Edith arrive in Musoma

Jason and Edith arrive in Musoma

Hamjambo from Musoma! After a long and bumpy bus ride overnight from Nairobi, I was greeted by Gabriel’s friendly face at my drop-off point. Having been my first solo long-distance bus trip in Africa, his greeting of “karibu sana” brought relief that I had finally arrived. Despite the arduous journey to get here, the several… Continue Reading

Meet the Climbers – Sam Blazey

Meet the Climbers – Sam Blazey

This week’s featured climber is the second of two Blazey’s that will be trekking with us up Kilimanjaro. Sam knows a thing or two about providing safe water to communities, one of the areas that we know plays a critical role in education and keeping children in school. We look forward to learning more from… Continue Reading

Meet the Climbers – Mary Snieckus

Meet the Climbers – Mary Snieckus

The next 2019 Kilimanjaro climber in our spotlight is Mary Snieckus. Working for the US Forest Service, she has extensive knowledge about land management and we look forward to learning more from her during our climb up to 19,341 feet! To support Mary’s fundraising goal and help us get closer to our goal of raising… Continue Reading

Meet the Climbers – Jerry Blazey

Meet the Climbers – Jerry Blazey

Our next climber spotlight is the first of three Blazey’s that will be climbing Kilimanjaro with us. Jerry and his two sons, Ben and Sam, are avid outdoorsmen and look forward to the experience of climbing the largest freestanding mountain in the world together. Jerry was also one of our climbers that logged 16 miles… Continue Reading

Meet the Climbers – Rachel McBride

Meet the Climbers – Rachel McBride

For this spotlight, we are featuring the first of four NIU alumni that will traveling to Tanzania to climb Mount Kilimanjaro with us. Rachel participated in the 2013 TDS Study Abroad trip and worked with Nyegina Secondary School administrators on her service learning project. Her recommendation included rearranging the meals that are given to children… Continue Reading

Meet the Climbers – Jonathan Justice

Meet the Climbers – Jonathan Justice

With a little more than 50 days until our 2019 Kilimanjaro Climb gets underway, we are featuring climber Jonathan Justice. To support Jonathan’s fundraising goal and learn more about where the funds that we are raising will be going, visit his personal fundraising page. Q: Who are you? A: Jonathan Justice Q: What do you… Continue Reading

Meet the Climbers – Denise Weinmann

Meet the Climbers – Denise Weinmann

In just under two months, our group of TDS volunteer climbers will be starting their summit of Mount Kilimanjaro! To get to know our climbers, we asked them to answer a few questions about themselves and what made them want to climb the highest peak in Africa. Introducing our first climber, Denise Weinmann! Q: Who… Continue Reading

Bagamoyo

Sunday (24 June 2018) we toured the East African slave port of Bagamoyo, also the administrative capitol of Tanganyika under German colonization before WWI. The Catholic museum on the slave trade is really well done, and worth the 2 hour drive north from Dar. We were also treated to the vibrant singing of the congregation… Continue Reading

Project Summaries

NIU MPA student Kayla King developed a PPT show for the farewell dinner in Musoma. It has a quick summary of the work of each student group on the TDS projects underway. The link is to the file on Google Drive. TZ18 Projects Summaries PPT I don’t know if this link will work, but Kayla… Continue Reading

Farewells and Reunions

21June2018 Travel Day to Mwanza: after a delayed start and a very slow driver (1 hr longer than normal), we missed our tour of Bugango Hospital. So we spent a leisurely late afternoon and evening at the Tilapia Restaurant in Mwanza, famed for their fish dishes. The highlight, if one can call it that, was… Continue Reading

Sunday was R&R

Sunday was an R&R day for the group. We have been going nonstop since landing in Nairobi. The day was relaxed and blessed with beautiful weather (75, mostly sunny skies, nice breeze, low humidity). I spent the day supervising 2 technicians who came from Mwanza to repair the 6 microscopes damaged in transit to Musoma.… Continue Reading

Microfinance Groups Find the M.Nyerere Library and Community Resource Center

Thursday was dedicated to learning about microfinance in Mara Region. We visited Tutejenge and FINCA offices in the morning, learning about how they lend money to borrowing groups and individuals (for FINCA). We also were able to sit in the beginning of a borrowing group’s weekly meeting with Tutejenge. In the afternoon we met with… Continue Reading

Unexpected Benefits of NGO Visits (by Kayla King, MPA Student)

As we have travelled around to the different NGOs throughout the Musoma region, many of us wondered the information’s worth, and why we weren’t spending more time with the Ngyena school children, developing our personal programs, and working hands-on. But as we’ve met the NGOs, I have seen students create parnterships with parallel NGOs, brainstorm… Continue Reading

Projects, projects, projects…

Wednesday was a project day for everyone. We have multiple projects underway that involve the NIU students as teachers and advisors. Two students are teaching primary and secondary teachers how to use XLS for grade books, WORD for writing exams, and internet for finding supplementary materials for classrooms. Four students are working with an UMABU… Continue Reading

Rukuba Island Excursion

The Rukuba Island excursion is both a highlight of the trip and a real challenge to those dedicated to public service. Watching men make boats is fascinating And primary school kids sang welcoming songs for the visitors.                           Still the poverty on the… Continue Reading

Making Connections, Making Plans

Monday (11 June) was a day of making connections with other NGOs working in Musoma. Taran Black gave TDS board member (and NIU Ed Systems staff member) Edith Njuguna a breakfast briefing on what the NIU students working on the Career Pathways/4H project had been developing with UMABU staff member Gabriel Magita before she arrived… Continue Reading

Serengeti Delights

No matter how many times you return to the Serengeti, there is always something to astound and humble you. The NIU students were treated to so many delights: elephants, giraffe, cape buffalo, leopard (making the Big 5 complete with the rhinos in the Crater). Still it is hard to top the up close and personal… Continue Reading

Old Dupai Gorge

Olduvai Gorge is internationally recognized for Louis and Mary Leakey’s famous discoveries of early humans, and it is just off the road from Ngorongoro Crater to the Serengeti East Gate. We stopped there for lunch and a tour of the site where Mary Leakey made her famous discovery. This is on the bucket list for many anthropologists…… Continue Reading

Ngorongoro Crater Views

The air was cool with a brisk breeze, and that made for clear views from the rim to the crater floor on Wednesday (6 June), when we drove from Arusha into the Serengeti. The bonus was being able to see a pair of rhinos in near a chain of ponds on the floor immediately below… Continue Reading

Bagamoyo Slave Port Museum (25June)

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… Continue Reading

Wednesday (22 June)

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… Continue Reading

Monday (20 June): HIV and Vulnerable Children and Environmental Education

Monday was focused on vulnerable children and those with HIV. Community Alive has been serving these children for many years, and since children are on school vacation, we were able to mix with them (Bernadette Chatman is pictured).  We also visited Global Alliance-Musoma, on which Madaraka Nyerere serves as a board member, and is acting… Continue Reading

Breakfast with Swahili Lessons

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. Continue Reading

Safari through Serengeti

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… Continue Reading

First Days in Musoma

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… Continue Reading

Getting Ready with Swahili Lessons

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. 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… Continue Reading

Kili Climb 2016 Reflections by Baba Anna/Dr. Kurt

[These remarks were given by Dr. Thurmaier as part of the ceremony presenting the Nyegina community with the funds raised by the 2016 Kilimanjaro Climb.] There are few privileges that are above watching the sun rise from the top of the world’s highest free-standing mountain and Africa’s highest peak. This group of volunteers experienced this… Continue Reading

Overwhelming Welcome in Nyegina!

This excerpt is from Mark Biernacki’s journal about February 3, 2016: We leave our Musoma hostel and approach Nyegina village on the one lane dirt road into town. Thousands of school children and villagers line the road and crowd around our vehicles. We can no longer move so we exit and walk the remaining way.… Continue Reading

Ngorongoro Crater Safari is first reward after successful Kili Climb!

The 1st of February brought us into the Ngorongoro Crater (a World Heritage Site) for a wonderful tour of this ecosystem. The high point of  seeing 4 rhinoceros had stiff competition with lions, elephants, zebra and many other animal sightings. We camped on the crater’s rim at a nice campground, and the Trek2Kili chefs outdid… Continue Reading

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

Last Rest Before Final Ascent

As of 6 PM on Friday our climbers were at Barafu Hut (14,930 feet) which is the base camp for the final ascent. They just finished a briefing with the guides for the ascent climb. Following supper they all will rest until 11 PM. After consuming tea and snacks they will hit the trails. They… Continue Reading

Day 4 of Climbing

Everyone is still doing well. Today after breakfast our climbers successfully climbed the Barranco Wall. They went up 1000 feet using their hands to crawl through and over rocks. Surprise! There were 2 more steep hikes up other walls in the same 5 hours. Madonna noted “These details were not in the publicity!” The camp… Continue Reading

The Climb Begins

Our climbers were packed and out the hotel door by about 8:30 AM on Monday morning with all their gear and a little apprehension. First stop was a rendezvous with the porters who loaded and strapped an abundance of equipment and supplies onto the roof of the bus. There are 3 porters to every 1… Continue Reading

We’re OFF!

Most of the Kili Climb 2016 group is departing the US for Tanzania today. Please with them well and keep us all in your prayers and thoughts as we travel over 24 hours to get to our hotel bed in Moshi, Tanzania. Safari Njema Team! Continue Reading

Countdown to Kili Climb 2016 Departures

The countdown to the 2016 Kili Climb is fast approaching Thursday morning’s departures to Tanzania (via Amsterdam). We are enjoying our last nights in our own comfortable beds before we spend a week in tents at higher and higher altitudes.   This blog will record our adventure and report progress to family and friends–and all… Continue Reading

Empowering Women in Zanzibar

  Our penultimate NGO seminar in the 2015 NIU Study Abroad and TDS Work-Study Program was a discussion with Mrs. Ume Kufum, the secretary at Catalyst for Women Empowerment in Zanzibar (COWPZ), who spoke with NIU students on Wednesday. The students were very appreciative of her time, and her personal story was inspiring to all… Continue Reading

Days in Dar End with Delightful Dinner

The NIU students and TDS board member Cynthia Nelson spent Sunday visiting Bagamoyo, the port for the East African Slave Trade, and today (Monday) we visited Haki Elimu (Tanzania’s premier education policy NGO) and the national library. We concluded our days in Dar with a delightful dinner hosted by Judge Steven Bwana and his family.… Continue Reading

In the beginning….then today!

The 2015 Tanzania Study Abroad class at NIU has come a long way since we first landed in Tanzania in May. This pic of Tiffany Powell introducing herself in Kiswahili language at Parents Day for Nyegina Secondary School on June 6 doesn’t convey the stress the students felt standing in front of over 500 parents… Continue Reading

Project Day for NIU Students

Tuesday, June 9, the NIU students scattered to work on different service projects. Three students are working with Jipe Moyo to help them evaluate their programming for street children who now have shelters, 4 students are working with the Musoma Chamber of Commerce to improve its efficacy and promote economic development, 3 are working with… Continue Reading

Wildebeest Migration in the Serengeti

As the Northern Illinois Study Abroad students made their way to Musoma on Sunday afternoon, part of the 13-hour journey took them through Serengeti National Park. Because of the late rains in Tanzania this year, students witnessed the great migration of wildebeest heading north towards Kenya. Nearly 1.5 million wildebeest and about 400,000 zebras migrate… Continue Reading

NIU Study Abroad Arrives at Musoma via Old Dupai and Serengeti…13 hours.

The 11 Tanzania Study Abroad students from Northern Illinois University landed in Arusha on Friday, May 29. They spent Saturday in Arusha at East Africa Ceramics (which is assisting TDS with a similar initiative for a women-owned business in Mugango), and at the Mwangaza Center for Teaching in Stop at Old Dupai Gorge for lunch… Continue Reading

Tanzania in Retrospect- Brandi

Tanzania, in retrospect: Part I June 26th, the day before we left for Tanzania. For the previous two weeks, I had been finishing last-minute tasks as the management intern for TDS. Working with our Tanzanian partner UMABU to confirm the hostel accommodations, travel arrangements, and the schedule changes had proved to be an exhausting, yet… 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

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

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

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

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

Dinner with Justice Bwana

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… Continue Reading

Successful Safari to Serengeti

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… Continue Reading