Travel Programs

Volunteer Trip

TDS Work-Study Program

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A “work-study” trip is an experience for travelers to volunteer in the communities they are traveling to and enhance their cultural understanding of the region by attending culture-related seminars. This type of travel experience allows the traveler to explore as part of the community.

This year’s two-week trip is set to begin on Saturday, June 11, 2016. TDS’s Work-Study Program combines a traveler’s desire to visit a foreign place and also give back in the community while they are there. This year will include working alongside teachers as they develop their computer skills, learning from locals about Tanzanian culture and a safari and camping in the Serengeti.

Learn more about the 2016 Work-Study Trip.

NIU Study Abroad Program


This study abroad course offered through Northern Illinois University explores the role of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in the development of poor countries, with Tanzania as a case study framework. The primary instruction will be meetings and interactions with officers and clients from a variety of NGOs in Tanzania, operating at the local and national levels. Students will ground their observations and interactions in-country with assigned reading and discussion. A major aspect of the course is the experience of working with local teachers as they improve their computer literacy skills.

Learn more about the 2016 NIU Study Abroad.

Kili ClimbIMG_0028

Tanzania Development Support led a fundraiser to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro for the second time in January 2016. The purpose of the 2016 Kili Climb was to launch the second phase, the addition of two computer labs to the Library and Community Resource Center. The trip began with the climbing of Mt. Kilimanjaro, a 7 day experience. The second week included an overnight camping trip to Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Crater and a drive across the Serengeti to deliver the money raised from the Kili Climb. Thanks to the dedicated volunteers, the 2016 fundraiser raised over $56,000 and construction of the computers labs was able to begin in late March.


Latest Travel Updates

2019 Kilimanjaro Climb Fundraiser Officially Underway!

This June, TDS will be returning with a group of volunteers to climb Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for education in the Mara region. The 2019 Kilimanjaro Climb will be the third time that TDS will be taking a group to Tanzania to scale the highest peak in Africa, and largest freestanding mountain in the world. It will also be the second time that TDS is joined by Madaraka Nyerere, a group of students and a headmaster from Nyegina who will be leading our group of 13 Americans up the mountain. With about two and a half months until our climbers enter through the gates to Kilimanjaro National Park, our fundraising efforts for the 2019 campaign are officially underway.

Our previous two climbs in 2012 and 2016 were successful fundraising campaigns that raised more than $80,000 that went towards the construction of a Library and Community Resource Center (LCRC) in Nyegina. Officially opened in 2016, the library is now frequently used by both primary and secondary school students in Nyegina and will soon be home to one of the largest collections of books in both Kiswahili and English in the country!

For the 2019 Kilimanjaro campaign, we have set an ambitious goal of raising $75,000 that will be used to elevate the LCRC to a true 21st century center for learning for the community. Funds that are raised will be used to purchase computers and tablets, hiring and training personnel to manage the computer lab and large collection of books, and furnishing a kids’ extension of the LCRC so pre-primary children can start their education earlier than ever.

To learn more about our team of volunteers and support our goal of raising $75,000, visit our official 2019 Kilimanjaro Climb fundraising page. Donations can be made towards individual climber’s personal goals or towards the campaign in general. To make a donation to an individual climber’s goal, visit their personal fundraising page and click donate. To make a general donation towards the campaign, click the donate button at the very bottom of the main fundraising page. You can also make donations towards the campaign by mailing a check to 201 Thornbrook Road, DeKalb, IL 60115.

In addition to learning a little bit about our climbers through their fundraising pages, we will also be featuring a spotlight on each of our climbers in the weeks leading up to the climb. So stay tuned to the TDS blog to learn more about the 2019 Kili climb team and follow them along on their adventures in Tanzania.

Last Day, TZ18: Zanzibar Spice Farm and Beach

How hot WAS that pepper hanging on the plant? Jasmine found out in a hurry!

The last day of our 2018 Tanzania Study Abroad still had an educational component. The morning activity was touring a spice farm, a heritage from the days of the Sultan of Oman who ruled Zanzibar for many years because he created vast plantations of spices on the Zanzibar islands. The tour is in a cooperative farm that provides samples of the different spices that were brought to Zanzibar for cultivation, including cloves, cinnamon cardamon, pepper, vanilla, cacao and more. The guide offers samples of each plant and challenges guests to guess which spice it is. Jasmine Carey found out how hot that little green pepper (pilipili) really was…in a really big hurry…OOOweeeEE!

We finished the day at Mwembe Beach swimming in the Indian Ocean, then farewell dinner at the Africa House at seaside in Stonetown. Thursday the students fly back to the US, exhausted, elated, and eager to share their experiences. Family and friends…get ready!

Kayla King (course grad assistant) and Maalkik Phipps (TDS intern) toast the end of the 2018 course with fresh coconut milk.

A to Z with NGOs in Tanzania: Arusha to Zanzibar

Our final stop in our month long safari to learn about the role of NGOs in developing countries is exotic Zanzibar. An early morning (7am!) ferry to Stonetown on Monday (25th June) ended with a docking in pouring rain, walking the 2 blocks to the Zenji Hotel in the rain…then taking naps until lunch time! Then a walking tour with excellent history by our favorite guide, Daud; he gives in-depth and inciteful background on culture and politics as well as history as we walk the winding alleys of Stonetown. Finishing the day wandering and sampling fresh seafood and Zanzibar pancakes in the night market was a fun adventure.

At Chako, a social enterprise workshop in Zanzibar, women cut glass with an etch and candles. Very cool to watch.

Tuesday (26th June) has been the last class day for the course, We visited Chako (Swahili for “yours”) is a recycling social enterprise that reuses all kinds of glass bottles and employs women and youth to turn them into glasses, lamp shades, candle holders and more.

NIU students Jasmine and Jacob, and Chako executive director Christine, discuss Jasmine’s suggestion to use some fresh lemon juice to help remove labels from the recycled bottles.

They are the first business in Zanzibar to be registered as a World Fair Trade organization (in 2017). 



A short walk away is eQuipHub, a Canadian funded NGO that teaches youth (20-25) social entrepreneurship skills. There are so many possibilities for collaborations, and we shared our experiences working on the Career Pathways/4H project in Musoma.

NIU 2018 Tanzania study abroad students finish their last NGO seminar with Christine at eQuipHub, a Canadian funded NGO teaching social entrepreneurship skills to Zanzibar’s youth.



Final event for the day is an iftar dinner at the home of one of Mani’s aunts, which she hosted during Ramadan for the 2016 NIU students. Then the last pub administration seminar for 2018 at the rooftop bar of the Chavda House in Stonetown….big questions to ponder as students finish a month in East Africa. Projects, NGOs, social enterprises, the Serengeti…heads are full to the brim.

Good thing that are long hours of plane rides home for processing…and sleep….


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 during a Mass in the church. After that visit we headed to the nearby resort for a beach side lunch of kingfish, chicken, and vegetarian dishes. Why sit inside when you can eat delicious food at the seawall and enjoy the breeze and the view?

Ann Buchanan and Dr. T enjoy kingfish lunch at the beach wall in Bagamoyo.

Dar es Salaam NGOs and UDar Student Mixer

23 June 2018 Dar es Salaam

NIU students with Demere Kitunga at Soma Cafe.

We visited 2 NGOs on Saturday. The first is the Soma Book Café, a combo book store and NGO that promotes a reading culture, especially among children. We had an inspiring talk with the executive director, Demere Kitunga. Her struggles to succeed once again reveal the power of books as the key to reading; reading as the key to learning, and education as the key to escaping poverty. She will be a great asset in helping TDS purchase the best variety of books in Swahili and English for the Madaraka Nyerere Library in Nyegina.




We also had a chance to meet Consolata Lihepa, executive director of Turn Trash Into Art, an NGO dedicated to increasing reuse and recycling in Tanzania to deal with the overwhelming solid waste problems in the country, including burning trash in yards and along roadsides, and even burning tires to get rid of them…..bad stuff for the environment and the people nearby. Our juggled schedule meant that we ended up with her giving a talk on our tour bus. It was an inspiring and engaging conversation nevertheless, especially for our environmental studies students.

Consolata Lihepa, executive director of Turn Trash Into Art, discusses her project with NIU students on the touring bus in Dar.



We finished the day with a bites and drinks mixer at the University of Dar es Salaam. Hosted by Dr. Ernest Mallya, Department of Political Science, NIU students spent 2 lively hours engaged with graduate students in the Master of Public Administration (MPA) and Master of Research in Public Policy (MRPP) programs. It could have gone on much longer, but U Dar students are taking exams and needed to get back to their studies.

NIUI students Jasmine Carey (MS ETRA) and Kayla King (MPA) chat with U of Dar students Faith and Rome at the student mixer on Saturday afternoon.

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 also took a video of my microscopes presentations to the secondary schools. She rotated the phone camera so you may need to tilt your device 90 degrees to view the files.

Video A: Microscopes Video A

Video B: Microscopes Video B


Farewells and Reunions

Pooja and Candy get a farewell pic with very friendly Afrilux staff.


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 when a golden eagle swooped across the table and snatched the fish on Fr. Kazeri’s plate! Buzzed right past Thurmaier’s left ear and it happened in 2 seconds or less! It was quite the excitement. It kept coming back for more! The staff is apparently used to this and waved arms and then burned incense sticks on the railing to the lake, which helped for a while but not entirely.

A bonus was spending time with Mary Okeyo, former NIU Swahili teacher who obtained her MS. In Education from NIU in 2016. The best reunion was that one of her former students, Sierra Turner, is on the study abroad this year, and they were able to catch up after some long hugs!

Happy reunion of Sierra Turner and her NIU Swahili teacher, Mary Okeyo (MSED ’16) who is back in Mwanza with her family.

Also able to spend time with Mw. Boniface Luzangi, former headmaster of Nyegina Secondary, who is defending his master’s thesis today (21st June) about counseling and advising are better interventions for students who are struggling with mental health problems than the standard practice of treating them as discipline problems and using punishments.

Final Project Day of 2018 Trip

SWM President Peres and Secretary Anna pitch their new water filters for sale at the TZ18 farewell dinner (19Jun2018), with Frank Patrick (UMABU) translating.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018: This was the final project day for the 2018 TZ study abroad. Most students were in Nyegina for the meeting with the officers of UMABU, and then the presentation of the microscopes to the various secondary schools that had laboratories (but lack equipment). We provided at least 2 microscopes each to secondary schools in Tarime, Butiama, Nyakatende, Mugango, Etaro, Mkirira, and Nyegina.

Then the afternoon was spent finishing presentations for the farewell dinner, with about 25 invited guests, including partners that the students had been working with in their projects and others who have been supporting the projects and the M.Nyerere Library and Community Resource Center. Each student group made presentations, and the Safe Water Mugango Project included a sales pitch by the president and secretary of SWM (Peres and Anna). That was a big hit. They were very confident and clear about why each person in the audience should buy a filter. Also in the audience was the District Executive Director for Musoma Municipal Council, Flora Olongo. She was excited to see the women open their own business and promised to get them a booth in the Nane Nane Day exhibition, and another. Peres and Anna (and the NIU Students!) were very excited about this important marketing opportunity. It was a very good ending to the Musoma leg of the 2018 program.

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. The first 4 were quickly fixed, but the last 2 need more work. They are confident they can finish repairing them Monday morning.

Ended the day at Tembo Beach Hotel restaurant with discussion of final days in Musoma. Bonus was that Raymond Kisarula, the owner, was there and heard my voice. He came over to say hello. Raymond was instrumental in getting the M.Nyerere Library and Community Resource Center finished, including the beautiful comfy chairs for reading newspapers (NOT the standard Musoma chair model that EVERYONE uses). He also got the computer labs building constructed in record time. I urged him to get out to Nyegina to see the kids coming into the library everyday to read books and study, especially the 4-6 year olds! Maybe on Tuesday….

Woman reads a magazine in the reading lounge at the M.Nyerere Library at Nyegina

Checking in the donated microscopes

The students each brought a 2nd checked bag filled with 2-5 microscopes for donation to area high schools with laboratories but no equipment. With 33 microscopes, we should be able to give 2-3 to several schools. The rough handling by the airlines resulted in about 5-6 needing some level of repair. We have found someone who can repair them (we hope). We will be inviting headmasters to the M.Nyerere Library and Community Resource Center to receive their scopes next week. Many thanks to the First Lutheran Church in DeKalb, volunteers at DeKalb High school who retrofitted them, and to the students for lugging them in airports, buses, and hotels!

Pictures of the presentation will be next week.

Kurt Thurmaier (aka Baba Anna) inspects a microscope brought by students as a 2nd checked bag.