Travel Programs

Volunteer Trip

We are now accepting applications for the 2016 Summer Work-Study Trip. Visit the trip description page to learn more and fill out an application.


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.

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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

Final Days of 2016 NIU Study Abroad/TDS Work Study (June 30-July 1)

Thursday was a fun day for the group, tho not without some educational gains. Our morning was spent touring a Zanzibar spice farm, sniffing pieces of bark, berries, crushed leaves, and such to guess what kind of spice it would become. spiceFarmZanz1Jake Swick, Bernadette Chatman, and Alyssa Rodriguez are guessing the bark will become ________ (hint: used in lots of US baking, some sprinkle on their coffee, good to sprinkle on cereal to lower blood pressure)…Yes! Cinnamon!

The spice tour ended with lunch of spiced rice (pilau), fish, and fruits.

Then off to the Kwenda Beach for an afternoon of swimming in the Indian Ocean. LOTS of fun and sun (no sun burns). It was Leah Nicolini’s birthday, so she chose an excellent Ethiopian restaurant in Stonetown for our farewell meal.

ZanzKazeriFinalWords16aFriday morning’s seminar after breakfast addressed the enduring questions of the study abroad to Tanzania: how do you manage the tension between respecting cultural differences and embracing modernity, esp regarding cultural practices that subjugate girls and women (such as FGM)?
What do you think about the status of women and girls in Tanzania and how does it affect the country’s development? What ought to be the role of NGOs (domestic and international) in the development of Tanzania, accounting for the answers in the first 2 questions?

As is often the case, Fr.Leo Kazeri had the last word at this seminar, thanking the students for their participation in tutoring the teachers on how to access the internet for their teaching, challenging them to continue educating their friends and families about what they had seen and experienced, so people know what is developing in Tanzania. Next stop is the airport for flights home this afternoon to Chicago via Doha!! They are looking forward to the destination, tho not really the 24 hours they are traveling to get home…It’s part of the Tanzania Study Abroad/TDS Work Study experience.


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 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!

Travel to Dar and UofDar Student Mixer (25 June)

We had a slow but uneventful check-in at the Mwanza airport, with the extra bags all working as planned on Fastjet. Smooth flight left an hour after Precision Air and landed in Dar before PA did; we were getting our last bags from baggage claim as PA passengers arrived…DSC03687

and it was half the cost (even after paying for checked bags).

Had to say goodbye to Mama Anna (Jeanine Thurmaier) and Mama Dustin (Mary Lenz) as the sisters continued from Dar to their flights home to Chicago on Sunday (via Doha). They promised to let us know how the hotel thing works in Doha when you have 4 hours to sleep…

Student group and remaining volunteers dropped our bags at the Landmark Hotel on Mandela Road (after 1 hour journey through traffic to get there from airport) and headed to U of Dar es Salaam for a mixer with NIU and UDar students, including a brief lecture by Political Science Associate Professor Ernest Mallya on the changes made by Tanzania’s new President Magufuli. The discussion among the students was frank and respectful, covering many aspects of educational systems in both countries, as well as energy policy and other policy topics while enjoying bites and drinks. Long day, and fulfilling…

Mixer of NIU and Saint Augustine Students (24 June)

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!

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 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.


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 director at the moment. Global Alliance focuses on vulnerable children and also the environment in which they live. In addition to supporting children with books, clothes, etc., they also drill wells, plant trees and promote intercropping to improve soils and increase land productivity.









Sunday (19 June): Singing and History Lessons

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.


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.


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 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

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.