For the first time since Tanzania Development Support led the first Volunteer Work-Study and NIU Study Abroad in 2009, over 50 trip alumni gathered all together to celebrate with Fr. Leo Kazeri. Fr. Leo, a leader in the Nyegina community and long-time partner with TDS is visiting the Northern Illinois/ Southern Wisconsin area to celebrate 40 years of priesthood, and 8 years of engagement with TDS. His two month visit began with a reunion gathering of all TDS’s trip alumni.
The reunion gave trip alumni the opportunity to share their favorite memories of Fr. Leo. Ben Peterson, 2011 Study Abroad student and 2012 Kili Climb volunteer shared his best memory of Fr. Kazeri: “My memorable Kazeri incident occurred during the Rukuba Island trip on the 2011 Study Abroad program. While the rest of the students were admiring the scenic shores of Lake Victoria as we journeyed to the island, I looked towards the back of our boat and saw Father Kazeri and Dr. Thurmaier discussing the dormitory project at the Nyegina Secondary School. Their conversation was probably no different than hundreds they have had over the years about the details of various TDS projects, but for me, something clicked as I watched. “Their friendship is what makes it all possible,” I thought. “Everything that TDS is doing here was ultimately built from this one connection.” And so, watching this conversation take place, I came to understand how much could be accomplished when two people from worlds apart brought their connections and resources together to face a community’s challenges.”
The reunion also gave Fr. Leo the opportunity to thank TDS for the many years of engagement and dedication. He shared with those gathered the great changes he has seen take place in the Nyegina community since NIU students and TDS volunteers began travelling there in 2009.