Our Approach to Projects

Tanzania Development Support has been steadfast in helping local organizations in Nyegina accomplish their goals since our founding by Jeanine and Kurt Thurmaier in 2008. We believe that our approach of establishing personal relationships in the Nyegina community with face-to-face interaction and close collaboration with community-based partners are necessary for sustained human development and the promotion of education for Tanzanian girls and boys.

Nyegina Girls’ Dormitory

Kidogo, Kidogo Dormitory Video
New Dormitory South Entrance
Moving Foundation Bricks

Our first project, building the Nyegina Girls’ Dormitory, raised funds to construct a dormitory for 160 girls attending the Nyegina Secondary School and was completed in spring 2012. The presence of the dormitory has enabled the school to become a certified sixth-form institution, which means that the girls are now able to attend an additional two years of school, allowing them to gain entry into local and foreign universities and teacher-training colleges.

For more info and to see pictures read The Nyegina Dorm Build.

Nyegina Library and Community Resource Center

Library Entrance Rendering
Library Entrance Rendering
Library Courtyard Rendering
Library Courtyard Rendering

The construction of our current project, the Nyegina Library and Community Resource Center, is set to kick-off in spring/summer 2013. The library will be constructed on the grounds of the Nyegina Secondary School and will serve students and faculty of local area schools as well as residents from the surrounding community through the library’s strategic location at the Nyegina village crossroads. In support of this project TDS launched its Kili Climb fundraiser campaign in spring 2012. Led by Madaraka Nyerere, 13 students and volunteers climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and raised an impressive $30,000 for the library project with help from their family and friends.

In direct response to the 2012 Kili Climb that raised $30,000, we asked you to help us match that amount so that we could begin to lay the library’s foundation in the summer of 2013. Thanks to our donors the Pour the Floor holiday campaign raised an astonishing $26,800! This bring us another step closer to making the Library and Community Resource Center a reality.

Visit the library page to stay abreast of information about the library project and to find out how you can help.

Latest Project Updates

Career Pathways Participant Quote

Career Pathways Participant Quote

We recently received a quote from a participant in the Career Pathways program. Here’s what Anna Masatu, a form three student (junior) at Mkirira Secondary School had to say about the program.

“The hands-on activities we’re learning in the career pathways after-school program are a fun way to learn science. In fact, my grades in science have improved since I joined the program. It’s been interesting to learn about the different career options in agriculture, and my family and I have enjoyed the vegetables that my classmates and I are growing in the school garden.”

TDS and Education Systems Center at NIU will be hosting a fundraising event to support our joint Career Pathways program on November 19, 2017 in Chicago. Learn more and buy tickets at

TDS partner preps new water filter facility







Safe Water Mugango – a TDS and UMABU partner that creates innovative water filters from ceramic pots – is finishing construction of a new facility where women will operate the business.

TDS has been able to raise funds for the startup costs and training to support the organization. Safe Water Mugango will improve educational opportunities for Tanzanians, especially girls, because women won’t have to spend one to two hours of their day fetching water for drinking, cooking, cleaning, and irrigation, which prevents them from attending school.

UMABU, a Tanzanian community-led organization in the Bukwaya region, has supported water-focused projects in the past to improve its communities because Tanzanians often lack access to plumbing and clean water. Many Tanzanians, usually girls, walk sometimes up to 10 miles to the nearest water source to fill up buckets and carry the heavy water back home. The water will often come from a dirty water source like a pond.

President of Safe Water Ceramics of East Africa Kim Mesiaki has been training the women to operate the facility by teaching women how to test the filters the water runs through and learning how to make the ceramic pot filters out of local ingredients.

The concrete floor was recently laid down, and now Kim Mesiaki and his team are installing windows and finishing metal work.

The organization’s objectives include:

  1. Prevent water-borne diseases in children.
  2. Improve the health of families.
  3. Sustain a business run solely by Mugango women.
  4. Create jobs so families can spend money on expenses such as education.

To read more about how the ceramic water filters work, go to Safe Water Mugango’s website.

Donate money to TDS to continue to support Safe Water Mugango.

Clubs teach Tanzanian students about career paths

During the summer break, about 95 students from Nyegina Primary and Secondary School and Mkirira Secondary School are participating in the 4H Career Pathways Clubs to prepare for graduation.

Program Coordinator Gabriel Magita has been working hands-on with the students to ensure upon graduation students know how to apply their skills to a career successfully.

“4H Career Pathways Clubs are intended to create self-awareness for students and enable them to choose the best career for their life,” Magita said. “The benefit of the club is to see changes to our people by teaching them to solve problems for themselves.”

In the clubs, the students participate in income-generating activities such as gardening or soap-making to earn money and learn a trade job.

“The clubs aim to ensure that students are able to stand on their own upon graduation,” Magita said.

This initiative helps to establish a career path for Tanzanians and reinforce the importance of getting an education. The term “4H” stands for Health, Head, Heart and Hand which Magita explains represents better health, clear thinking, good decision making and working and supporting themselves and their families financially.

TDS Board Member to discuss technology with Tanzanian teachers

TDS Board Member to discuss technology with Tanzanian teachers

Jason Michnick (right) and Dr. Kurt Thurmaier (left) pose for a photo before they zip-line in Machakos People's Park in Kenya last year.
Jason Michnick (right) and Dr. Kurt Thurmaier (left) pose for a photo before they zip-line in Machakos People’s Park in Kenya last year.

Jason Michnick, Tanzania Development Support Board Member and Economic Development Planner at the City of DeKalb, will be traveling to Tanzania in early June to meet with the teachers that participated in the 2016 TDS/NIU training and discuss how the training has impacted their efforts in the classroom.

During the TDS/NIU training, Nyegina teachers volunteered their time to learn how to use computers and the Internet to better teach their students. These computers were setup in the Nyegina Resource Center so teachers could seek up-to-date information and share it with their students. For some of the teachers in attendance, this was their first time using a computer.

“As an economic developer, education is the foundation of growing a local economy,” Michnick said. “Seeing the challenges of providing a quality education in Tanzania made me want to get involved in the education-technology sector. Providing teachers with technology, and training them on how to properly incorporate it into the classroom, has potential to provide tremendous amounts of new resources not previously dreamed of by children and educators.”

Michnick will also be leading a focus group to gain feedback on TDS’ plan to create a mobile education lab located in the Nyegina Library. To do this, he will meet with the district education officer to discuss TDS’ projects and lobby support from the Tanzanian government who can establish and fund Internet connection in the area.

The remainder of his time in Musoma will be spent meeting with TDS partners to check-in on other projects. This will be his third trip to Tanzania, where he will travel to Musoma, Mwanza, Dar Es Salaam and Zanzibar, but his girlfriend’s first time traveling to Africa. Michnick said he is excited for his girlfriend to experience everything Tanzania has to offer. Their trip starts in Nairobi, Kenya, where their plane lands, so Michnick said he is also very excited to see the friends he made while living in Nairobi.

“And Zanzibar!” Michnick adds. “I am excited for drinking on the roof of Maru Maru and watching the sunset, and then eating Zanzibar pizza.”

Michnick started volunteering with TDS while he was a student at NIU in 2015 and stayed involved as a volunteer which eventually led to his role as a board member.

Thursday (23 June): Grand Opening of LCRC

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

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

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

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

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!

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.