Moving into Serengeti Camp - July 13th, 2011

This is a quick shot of some group members moving into our Serengeti Camp after our afternoon game drive on Monday.

Julie, Liz, Laura, Zach and Dan compare tents at Serengeti Camp

Successful Safari to Serengeti - July 13th, 2011

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 her eyes on breakfast for her and her 2 cubs.

Mother cheetah eyes a breakfast of gazelle for her and her 2 cubs.

We have three days left before departure. The remaining seminars are with environmental NGOs today, then faith-based NGOs on Thursday, finishing with a mining town and miner care houses on Friday. Dorm work continues, as do our many other projects here.

Electricity is still a big problem, and email/internet access is a big problem with all the rolling blackouts. Sorry for the intermittent communcations.

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.

Volunteer Group Safely Landed in Nairobi - July 3rd, 2011

Good news.
Obuya Bagaka reports that the TDS volunteer group has safely landed at Nairobi. Only lost one bag (sorry Nick). It will be shipped by bus tomorrow to catch up to Nick in Musoma.

They leave Nairobi at 7am tomorrow (11pm Sunday night in Dekalb) for Musoma, Tanzania!

Baba Anna (Dr. T.)

Kiswahili Classes Ended, but not the studies - July 3rd, 2011


We finished our Kiswahili studies on Friday. Saturday we visited the islands of Irigia and Rukuba. The poverty there is striking. We had some intense discussions last night to reflect about what we saw.

Sunday (today) we had a day off, so we walked into Musoma Town, 1 hour each way. Shopped in the market, and had lunch in the garden of Matvilla Hotel. Walked back with a stop at the Polisi Club by the lake. Relaxing day and much needed after an intense week.

I wanted to send pictures, but it is not very feasible at the moment. This is (clockwise) Zack, Dan, Liz, Frank, and Mary (bottom center) quizzing each other Thursday night for Friday’s last session of Kiswahili class. It was a great experience for all of us.

Everything is going well here except that every day we have rolling blackouts of electricity and that is causing us major headaches with connection to internet, etc. When we have electricity, the area with the server does not, so we have no internet. When server has no electricity, we have no internet even when we have electricity. There is no end in sight for this. So we are using an alternate means of connecting, but it is very expensive.

Thanks for watching the blog. Will try to post something with pictures soon.


Dr. T.

- June 27th, 2011

We had a great first day of language training today (Monday). The 9 of us are split into 2 class sections. We have 3 instructors who rotate between the two. THen in the afternoon the three of them presented cultural training on greetings and being invited into homes. It was very intense and all of us are really pleased with the day.

BTW: I have a phone number correction for Tanzania. I had to get a new SIM.

The correct number for my Tanzania Phone is 011.255.785.9888.49 .

Friends and family and travelers should make that correction on the contact sheet we sent.

Electricity was not available in the city of Musoma most of today, so internet is now back this evening.

Here is a picture of our visit to the water filter family business in Arusha. This is connected to NIU because Dr. Manny Hernandez helped set up the factory with the family that runs it. We are hoping that we can set up a similar operation in Musoma to provide safe, clean water with no energy requirement of the family.

The TZ2011 students visited the NIU connected Arusha Water Filter Factory.

We also stopped at Old Duvai Gorge en route from Arusha to Musoma on Sunday, 26 June. This is a picture of us at the site where Mary Leakey discovered early hominid fossils that began to change our knowledge of where we came from…

Safe & Happy Arrival in Musoma! - June 26th, 2011

I am pleased to report that we arrived this evening at the Epheta Retreat Centre, safe, sound, and pretty tired. It was a long 13 hour day, but a happy one.

We left Arusha at 7:30 this morning (an hour late).We made stops at Old Duvai Gorge (discovery site by Mary Leakey and others of some of our earliest ancestor fossils), the different gates to get through Ngorogoro Crater and the Serengeti Park, and Fr. Kennedy Garusha’s home for a last drink and WC break before the final push to Musoma. Along the way, we had an elephant on the road with us in Ngorogoro, calmly cleaning away overhanging branches on the road, plus in the Serengeti we saw most everything except the big cats and a rhino (which almost nobody is lucky enough to see).

Br. Aquiline welcomed us warmly to Epheta with a dinner ready, and everyone (but me) is taking showers to wash out the dust. Tomorrow we start our first Kiswahili language lesson at 8:30 (12:30PM DeKalb time). We are all excited about the prospect.

More tomorrow, hopefully with pictures! Epheta has a brand new high speed (100mb) internet service! Yes!

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.

Home safely - July 1st, 2009

It is offical, we are home and the post trip blues have set in. A couple of us had airline issues which caused our luggage to take a different route than we did. The amazing thing is that after being together for a month, Dr. Thurmaier recognized my bags and he and Jeannine grabbed them in New Jersey while we were in Toronto. It made me think about how we worked well together, forming a bond that often happens when a group is established to work towards a common goal. It is a good feeling to have the opportunity to be productive for a community who appreciated our efforts so very much. I miss the friends we made there as well as the members of our group. We did more than a fair share of laughing, eating, experimenting, and trying to learn a new language and culture together. It was an incredible opportunity and I am looking forward to sharing the highlights of the experience with others in my home, school, and work community.

Not an Africa story…. - June 29th, 2009

OK, we left Nairobi on Sunday night, headed to home.

Little did we know that we were diverted to Bunjubura, Burundi to deliver a critical part for a Brussels airliner that hit an antelope either landing or taking off. So we left 2 hours late from NBO becase the incoming flight was delayed getting the part to be delivered to Burundi. Then there were all the people that had been stranded in Bunjubura , Burundi since Friday waiting to get to Brussels.

So we ended up missing all of our connections in Brussels, and are spending the night in Brussels, courtesy of Belgium Airlines. After getting checked into the Sheraton, we all had a nice afternoon walking around the city (broken up in different groups). The youngsters are headed back into the city for samples of Belgian beer and night life. We old timers are going to try the beer at the hotel and get 8+ hours of sleep.

About half of us are getting home via Toronto, arriving ORD about 15:15 via United on Tuesday afternoon.

The rest of us don’t arrive until 17:25 via Newark on American Airlines.

Sorry, don’t have pics of this…..

Musoma Departing - June 26th, 2009

It is 5:30 in the morning in Musoma, just before dawn. The Epheta center is bustling with all of us getting our last showers, last packing as we prepare for departing about 6:45.

We had a wonderful Friday, with a debriefing and listening session with Bishop Michael, followed by a lunch together (and a cake). We discussed everything from tourism and education to the role of the church and secular institutions in development, especially in the absence of significant government activity. Before and after the bishop’s events, we had last minute shopping and packing. Kazeri, Bagaka, Mama Anna and I visited the Swahili language training center to determine how to incorporate that into the course next year. It seems quite feasible.

In the afternoon, several of us, including the Gosnays, Tim, Shawn, and Jeanine and I, visited the Musoma Public Library, which turns out to be the only public library in the entire Mara Region, that is, from Lake Victoria to the Serengeti, from the border with Kenya to the Grumeti River half way between Musoma and Mwanza. It is not a big library, with lots of outdated material. We hope we can improve the quality of the holdings in the near future.

Our farewell dinner last night was a chance for the group and our hosts to come together for a celebration of what we have accomplished in our weeks together. Many of us spoke about our feelings of joy and how our personal and group families have grown in astounding and unexpected ways. Back at Epheta, we polished off a few bottles of South African wine to make sure they were not lost.

We head to Nairobi today, and will spend a few hours in touring on Sunday. Probably won’t have time to blog on Sunday, so this is likely our last blog before we return home.

We are very grateful for all of our friends and family who have supported our efforts to get here, and our donors to TDS who have made building the dormitory for girls possible.

God bless you all.



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.

Wednesday Work - June 25th, 2009

We were a divided group on Wednesday. About half of us were in meetings in Musoma, while the other half worked at the dorm building site, moving more bricks to the floor so the masons can lay the walls.

Tristan and Megan were pursuing interviews of microfinance loan recipients from FINCA, as well as the state bank. Lucy Carter and Astrid interviewed with Mama Regina regarding her Women in Development Program (including the organic veggie garden). Tracey and Shawn (and Astrid) toured the disability center to see the work of that NGO in action. (They had presented at the NGO Forum for the students 2 weeks ago.)

I spent the morning discussing the development plans for the Musoma Diocese with Bishop Michael, Fr. Kazeri, and the secretary of the Development Committee, Fr. Paskos.

We conducted the final academic seminar of the study abroad tour, a final discussion of the Giles Bolton book, Africa Doesn’t Matter. We were pleased that Fr. Kazeri could join us. Altho it was mandatory for the graduate students in the tour, it was also attended by a wide range of the group, including undergrad students and most of the volunteers. That brought a wide range of perspectives to the conversation and we had lingering conversations at dinner.

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 Next Big Event! - June 21st, 2009

Today we go to see the animals! And they are not in a zoo. We are all excited and curious as well. The construction project has been another opportunity for us to learn

how business is conducted in a different culture. The pouring of the concrete alone has caused us to realize how life is without modern equipment. Additionally, it has

allowed us to build new relationships with more of the teachers and students. They see us visiting and laughing (most of the time) as we work together to form lines to move the

raw materials to the foundation and join us. We enjoy the chance to get to know them on a first name basis and they seem to be enjoying their time with us. Surely it can help us build our Swahili vocabulary. Yesterday the girls were working with us and next week the boys take a turn. We continue to be amazed at the warmth and faith of the people here.

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!

The events continue! - June 19th, 2009

We had a day off from construction today, but that does not mean we didn’t learn and work. Several students conducted research interviews for their

independent study projects while some visited the local nonprofit organization Community Alive. A few enjoyed the local market to find gifts to bring home.

Our seminar session in the evening focused on the first few chapters of one of the books we read to prepare us for our studies of ngos in developing nations. Several members of the

service group attended including a couple of high school students! Tomorrow we continue to practice our newly acquired “building skills”. It is truly a learning experience

to work as a team together in building without using electrical tools or equipment.

Another long day pouring floor - June 19th, 2009

We had another long day pouring floors for the PC lab. It wasn’t nearly as fun the second day. We had less help today; the Etaro congregation was to join us but could not because there was a funeral in Etaro, which they all had to attend. Attached is a video of the concrete bucket brigade.

Still, the floors of the PC lab are now poured and curing. We hope to plaster the walls inside and out on Saturday.

We have Thursday and Friday off. Everyone is exhausted from such heavy work. In addition, some students still need interviews for their independent study projects, and Fr. Leo took take Helen and Cheryl (our nursing staff volunteers) and Jeanine and Hanna to see the regional hospital. Thursday afternoon we went to the Nyerere Museum.

Friday morning we will visit Community Alive, the center working with AIDS orphans and women. They also make cards and textiles for sale to earn revenues for the orphan girls, a center called Tupandane.

Dedication Ceremony - June 17th, 2009

The ceremony day began with the students, teachers and community members lining either side of the road as the bus drove up the road to the school. It was a sight we will  never forget. As we departed the bus we were hugged by so many people! A mass was held in the Nyegina Village Church with the Bishop presiding.  The students and service group proceeded with the crowd of excited community members, students, parents, Father Leo and Bishop Michael to the tempo of drums and singing to the school sight where the ceremony took place.

Dr. Thurmaier, the Bishop, Father Leo among others spoke and led prayers and the cornerstone was unveiled. The winners of the choir contest, held on Sunday also entertained the crowd.

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!

Independent Study Interviews - June 13th, 2009

Kaitlin and Katie interviewed teachers and students for their independent study projects yesterday afternoon at Nyegina Secondary School.

Kaitlin interviews teachers about information sources.

Kaitlin interviews teachers about information sources.

Katie Stone interviews teachers about the impact of access to electricity on women

Katie Stone interviews teachers about the impact of access to electricity on women

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

We’re in Musoma! - June 8th, 2009

We finally made it to Musoma! The group got a tour of the Nyegina Secondary School this afternoon, and its first look at the new dormitory building site–it is huge! This dorm will serve 160 girls, plus have space for matrons and the shower/toilet attached building. We will be working on one section of the building in the two weeks in June, and probably add windows and doors to the computer lab, also under construction. (It already has a roof.)

We hope to send pictures soon. The internet connection here at the Epheta center is Musoma is much more reliable than in Dar (so far).

Tomorrow we meet microfinance lenders and then students have free afternoon to pursue their independent study projects. Megan Hencke has already been meeting with people to get the UMABU website project going!

The excitement builds…


On to Musoma!

On to Musoma!

June 4 from Dar es Salaam - June 4th, 2009

We’ve had trouble accessing internet services in Arusha. But we have some access in Dar, so hopefully students will be adding to the blog soon.

Conducting a 2 hour seminar (with break) on a moving bus down Tanzanian highways was a blast. Lively discussions which continued long after I concluded the seminar.

Despite several bumps, definitely thankful to Study Abroad staff, Deb Pierce, Anne Seitzinger, and Chris McCord for making this trip happen! Asante.

Dr. Bagaka’s telephone number in Tanzania - May 30th, 2009

Here’s the updated contact information for
Dr. Obuya Bagaka tel: (011.254.727.498.760)

Welcome! - May 28th, 2009

Welcome to the blog for Tanzania Development Support. Our first blog project is reporting from the study abroad to Musoma/Nyegina, Tanzania, where we will study the role of NGOs in Development and help the Nyegina community build a new dormitory for girls at the Nyegina Secondary School.