To the ends of the earth…and back!

2012 Adventures

‘Tis the Season to be Generous Part 1: Students Helping Students, Bed Nets

Over the next few days as we gear up for 2013, I look forward to sharing some stellar examples of generosity with you!

My first example:


A special thank you to high school rock stars Sara and Rebecca who are currently fundraising for bed nets for Tumaini Junior School and Shalom Orphanage Centre!

I had the privilege of meeting these dedicated students and chatting with them about their fundraising efforts several weeks ago. They are amazing!

For more information and/or to be a part of this very important project, visit here. Each bed net is just $5USD so I invite you to skip a latte or two this week and donate to help protect a child from malaria!

Asanteni sana Sara and Rebecca, and their Ecology teacher Mr. French, for welcoming me to your class and for your dedication and generosity!



Made it back to the US

After some very busy final days in Tanzania before the holidays, I’ve made it back to the US for a few weeks.

I can never seem to remember what a shock my system goes through when returning to the chilly northeast after several months in equatorial Africa. A heavy coat, scarf, hat and two layers later: Noted!

I’ll be updating with more details and photos soon….in the meantime I invite you to meet seven adorable children, the newest enrolled in TEC’s sponsorship program. Note, of the first five, only Lowassa and Denis know some Kiswahili. These five children come from Ngorongoro Crater and are Maasai. Having had little to no schooling prior to their arrival at Tumaini, and in turn little to no knowledge of Kiswahili, we’ve enlisted the help of Tumaini teachers, Mr Robert and Mr Jimmy to assist in the adjustment period. Robert is Maasai so he has been working tirelessly to help translate for the children. Thank you Robert and Jimmy!!

Happy and Nashipai


Denis and Sangau




Elihuruma and Fausta


Changing into boarding uniforms


Showered and ready to visit FAME for check ups


All finished at FAME! A huge thank you to Doctor Gabriel for his thorough explanations and patience with the little ones, Veronica for helping to translate for the five Maasai children and FAME’s volunteer coordinator Pamela for the gifts of pencils and laughter during our visit!


Lego fun after morning lessons!!


Final push!

Well friends, the 2012 school year is almost complete! In the coming weeks, please check back (or subscribe for automatic updates to be sent directly to you!) as I invite you to look back on this past school year’s highlights!

In the meantime, here is some recent news:

Rain rain (don’t) go away!
We had a few brief days of needed rain. As much as the mud proves a bit hard to navigate and cakes to shoes/boots, I did always want to be 5’8″!!



Standard IV Students sat for the National Examination last week–a test they must pass in order to continue to Standard V next year!

Cleaning and Preparing the classrooms for testing20121112-212725.jpg

Relaxing after Day 1 of tests!


Welcoming Visitors
In the past two weeks we have welcomed old and new friends to Tumaini!

Nurse to nurse–here is Rachael and Tumaini’s school nurse, Victoria, and Ms. Christine.


Victoria testing the glasses’ prescription–was a perfect match!



Rachael and I also visited nearby Shalom Orphanage Centre and FAME



More donated supplies–thank you Rachael!


Mama Susan and Krista visiting our young students and presenting puppets


Waiting for afternoon assembly!

A lovely treat whilst driving back to Karatu after several meetings in Arusha…



Stay tuned for more!!!

Happy October!!

Hello friends!

So sorry for the delay since my last update: the combination of our Internet being a bit spotty and a parasite finding my body to be most hospitable has inhibited me from telling you about all the exciting things happening at Tumaini until now. (Yes, even the parasites have caught on to how much fun I always have!)

More seriously I’m luckily feeling better though do suppose my constant claims of being a “delicate flower” are indeed irrefutable! Nevertheless, despite this recent “adventure” life has certainly continued to be busy at Tumaini Junior School! Here are some recent highlights:

First Installment of Books from the Melrose School on the Shelves of Tumaini!!

A special thanks to Liz and Ray Canning and our friends at UNITE (I’m sure you remember them…in case you don’t check out my August 17 post!) for working with TEC’s Carol Hall to facilitate the safe arrival of our first set of books from The Melrose School! The Science books and chapter books are fantastic additions to Tumaini’s shelves! We anxiously await the arrival of the other 78 boxes worth of books! SPECIAL NOTE: IF YOU WILL BE TRAVELING TO TANZANIA IN THE NEXT FEW MONTHS AND WOULD LIKE TO USE AN EXTRA BAG TO TRANSPORT BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME!!!!



More letter writing!
pictured here is one of our newest sponsored students!


Water Well Updates!!

Shortly before my June 29 return to Tanzania, the water was accessed for the first time! In one afternoon of pumping, Tumaini’s 45,000+ Gallon cistern was nearly filled to the brim! On September 14, we pumped for water in preparation for Tumaini’s Graduation Ceremony on September 15, and again, we filled the cistern at a rate of approximately 15,000 liters (or 3,000 Gallons) an hour. We are now in the dry season [rains will arrive in November] so the well has proved especially invaluable for the 541 students and 40+ staff members!

Since the pump is 132 meters down, Tumaini’s current electrical capabilities are not enough. Thus, the next step of the project is the installation of the proper electricity needed for the pump and the installation of a control box. I am delighted to tell you that we have enough funds in the Water Well Project budget at Journeys of Solutions to complete this next step and anticipate its completion in the next several weeks. As a final step, once we have installed the electricity needed and the pump has a structure around it, we will do a formal naming of the water pump in my father’s honor in the coming months. Stay tuned for more updates soon!

CHECK OUT THE WATER WELL PROJECT’S GREAT PROGRESS (and the Construction progress in the background of many shots!!)

May 2011–Water Survey



June 2012–Water First Pumped




September 2012–Water Pump Safely in Place!



-Along with Tumaini’s Principal and Librarian, I led weekly tours of the school to American tourists visiting the Karatu area on safari. Within the last few weeks, scholarships for seven Tumaini students have been secured through TEC as a direct result of said tours!

-I managed a team of four volunteers from NY who divided their time between Tumaini Junior School and the nearby Shalom Orphanage Centre. On one memorable afternoon, the five of us women, with the assistance of Ms. Christine met with the Standard VII girls for a “Girl Talk.” We actually did a good deal of myth-busting! It was great fun and everyone enjoyed it!
-Tumaini received an entire library worth of book donations from The Melrose School in Brewster, NY. As you read above, we have received the first 2 of the 80 boxes which were packed up!

-Tumaini celebrated it’s 2nd Annual Graduation on 15 September. The 36 Standard VII and 74 Pre-Unit (nursery school) students were recognized for their efforts and the day was a blast!
-The Standard VII Pupils also sat for the National Examination on 19 and 20 September–a test they must pass in order to continue to secondary school in January. Last year ALL of Tumaini’s Standard VII pupils passed so we are confident the same will happen this year! School is a lot quieter now that the Standard VII pupils have left school. They will remain home until December at which time the National Exam results are published. Come January, they’ll begin Secondary school!

Check back in a few more days for October highlights and more news about some new friends at Red Sweater Project!!!

Thanks for reading!!

Uko nyumbani (“You’re home”)



I love the changing of seasons, especially Summer into Autumn. In 2009, 2010 and presently, I have and do sorely miss seeing the changing of the leaves and feeling the crispness in the air as I find myself in Tanzania.

Last Autumn I was able to stay home and spend quality time with my family. I snapped the above and below photos during an apple picking adventure with my father and brother.


That’s right friends, you’re never too old! We did manage to take some photos in which my loving older brother pretended to drop a pumpkin on my head. (note the disdain on his face at the photo opp!) Ah, sibling love!!


Another memorable moment was when this same strapping young man disappeared for a few minutes (we all are prone to wandering sometimes after all) and then reappeared only to present about a dozen apples from the various pockets in his coat! Dad and I especially loved that! Truly what a beautiful afternoon I’ll cherish always.

Presently, I find myself in Tanzania walking around under the equatorial sun and in the dust (the rains will come soon!), which only exacerbate this longing. That said I cannot deny how I love being here too. As I think about that crisp afternoon which ended with some skiball at the boardwalk…


(scary how alike they are!!)

…and how I miss so much about home, I cannot deny how here too feels like home.

I just arrived at the school office and after greeting the secretaries and nurse, I sat down to get to work. The nurse came in moments later with tea and with a smile said, “Uko nyumbani Eliza,” (“You’re home.”) Indeed.

The nurse and me at graduation


Thanks for the love!

A day well spent!

Well my friends, today’s entry brings us to the end of the (nearly) weeklong graduation exposé…I hope you’ve enjoyed!

Below are some photos of students and teachers celebrating, laughing (check out the boys and the flowers!!) and finally, clean up! It was such a special day–truly memorable! Thank you for visiting and stay tuned for more updates on the National Exam and the Water Well project!!






Sibling love-Gabriel and Yasinta!

They couldn’t get enough of the flowers!!!






Graduate Eliza, Rose, Rose and Beatrice–such lovely girls!


Two of my faves: Madame Fatmah and Madame Christine–these women are fantastic teachers and wonderful role models! Like all the Tumaini teachers, their dedication to the success of the students is awe-inspiring!

Cleaning up and bidding farewell!



More Singing and Dancing, Congratulating Graduates and recognizing the amazing work of teachers!

Given the absence of Friday’s post, today is a double entry which will bring us up to the end of the graduation ceremony! We’ll see the Standard II students singing and dancing, the school choir and graduates being recognized and receiving certificates! Finally, we’ll see glimpses of the hardworking and dedicated teachers being recognized and appreciated by everyone in attendance!

Here are the Standard II students performing to Shakira’s Waka Waka song. They also did an amazing skit on the importance of school and education as they highlighted the dangers of smoking!



The Choir, along with their teacher, Madame Christine. Mme Christine is also the Pre-Unit class teacher!




Standard VII coming back in and then dancing to their seats!



Pre-Unit Grads, along with teacher Christine, marching back in–a perfect photo opp for family and friends!!



After congratulating the graduates, the guest of honor (and educational officer), encouraged all in attendance to show their appreciation to the teachers. Within just a few minutes, nearly $600 was raised to be split amongst the teachers!








Mr. and Mrs. Bayo and the educational officer shaking the hands of those giving:


Here are some additional photos of our graduates after the ceremony:



Some future Standard VII Grads, borrowing a cap and stars from Standard VII Graduates. So cute!



Check back tomorrow for some other photos of students from all grades!

Skits, songs and laughs!

Friends, my apologies for the absence of yesterday’s update! Internet connection was a bit too slow for photo uploads. Thanks for your patience!

Without further ado, let’s see what the French Club, Standard V pupils and the top two Standard VII students shared!!!

Marchons, Marchons

Écoutez! (Listen)


Some students looking on with amusement!


Dansons!–the entire French club dancing after finishing a skit about the importance of working hard!

Here come the Standard V Students who performed a great skit, danced and sang for us!




Top two Standard Seven Pupils, Clinton and Wilhelminer, informing guests about Tumaini’s 2012 achievements…including the completion of the new water well, incredible academic scores, and an athletics report!


Here come the graduates!


:: drumroll please!!! ::

Here come the Standard VII Graduates


Caps and stars were made by some of the fabulous teachers!

After processing in, or should I say “swaying in” (they danced in time to some great beats!!!) students gathered in a circle to be greeted by Principal, Allan Caleb. Next they enjoyed some performances!




Some nursery school student classes singing “Good bye” to Standard VII.

The stellar Standard IV students marching in as they sing!! Once up front, they serenaded us and the graduates!!


Here they are singing to us! ;



Graduation Continues–

Welcome back friends!! Thanks for returning to see some more glimpses of the Graduation ceremony at Tumaini Junior School!!

Here are some students enjoying a few minutes of downtime before the performances!

Some more adorable students from the nursery school!!

Standard II Students

Our Scouts before beginning the ceremony!

Before the ceremony, several students were selected to showcase their computer knowledge and skills! Here they are just moments before parents and other guests were invited over!

Parents and other guests learning about the children’s computer skills!

Distinguished Guests, including Mr. & Mrs. Bayo, Co-Founders of the school!


3, 2, 1…

And the ceremony begins!!!


Check back tomorrow to see our graduates!!!

Graduation Day!

We celebrated graduation on Saturday, congratulating both the Standard VII and Pre-Unit pupils. The day was incredible fun for all students, teachers and especially the parents, guardians and special guests in attendance! The hard work and dedication of the students and teachers proved evident in the performances from each class, as well as songs, poems and dancing from the French Club and the choir. The Scouts opened up the ceremony, marching in sync then leading us all in the Tanzanian National Anthem.

Over the course of this week, check back daily for a new photos from the special day!

Here are a few set-up photos to get us started!!

The tent arrives on Friday evening


Banners are hung!


Balloon canopies secured into place!!


We realize we need more seating to accommodate guests–as always, the children are more than willing to help us finish setting up!


Last minute balloons brought in just moments before getting started!

Check back tomorrow for photos of the Scouts an the first few performances!!

And we are back!

Echoes of laughter again fill our classrooms as the equatorial sun slowly appears in the afternoons. Simply, we are back and have successfully completed the first week of our last school term of the 2012 school year!!





Next Saturday, September 15, we will celebrate the Standard VII students at a special graduation ceremony! This afternoon each class rehearsed for next week’s ceremony; it was great fun! Can’t wait to post pics from the actual event next week!

Standard VII Students dancing in!

Watching the presentations!

As I stood and listened to the various poems, it felt like surround sound, as many students knew the poems and songs from their classmates’ presentations!

Standard Four in between songs!

Update from Saturday, 8 September: As the Standard VII students prepared for a joint examination with visiting Standard VII students from Mto wa Mbu, we had two more visitors check out Tumaini! They had a stop to check out the school board, learning which teachers were on duty, before seeing which movie the students watched (a Saturday treat for boarding students). They quickly moved on to another classroom before stopping in the bushes to see about some food. Classic!



We get by with a little help from our friends!


Thank you Erin Meade from Anchorage, AK, for your generous donation to Tanzania Education Corporation. Through your amazing gift, we now have ELEVEN new globes at Tumaini Junior School!

I unpacked the globes yesterday with the help of school Principal, Allan. They’re a lovely addition to the library and will first be enjoyed by the Standard VII students who return to school today!!!


ALSO, A BIG thank you to Barb, Sadie, Bridget and Laura, our rock star volunteers, whose 12 days of help proved invaluable. They organized the library with school librarian Jimmy, led a special health education talk/seminar one evening with the Standard VII female students, joined me in taking groups of sponsored kids to nearby FAME for medical check-ups, enjoyed several cultural tours in/around Karatu, and Bridget (An English teacher with 7 years experience) even worked on professional development with the Tumaini teachers one afternoon. Without their help, the library would not have been so utilized AND appreciated! Each day the students literally raced to the second floor library! Asanteni SANA!!

Bridget, Sadie, Laura and me walking to town
(Photo credit Sadie Szrama; Thanks to Barb for snapping the shot!)

Library fun!
(photo credit Laura Mueller)

Goodies for our meeting with the girls!

Standard VII girls, Tumaini teacher, Christine, the volunteers and me!

Some Standard VII boys who enjoyed soda, biscuits and oranges left from our meeting with the girls!

These amazing women also spent time at nearby Shalom Orphanage, where they enjoyed time with the 62 children and the dedicated staff. Their generosity extended to a market visit where we bought a two week supply of beans, oranges, and some needed household items for Shalom!

Laura with Mishiek and beautiful Anna
(Photo credit Laura Mueller)

Barb reading with lovely Paulina!
(Photo credit Laura Mueller)

Bridget and Winnie
(Photo credit Laura Mueller)

Sadie and Clement
(Photo credit Sadie Szrama)

The young children inspecting the market purchases!
(Photo credit Laura Mueller)

For one of our final dinners in Karatu, the ladies and I visited a beautiful lodge called Gibb’s Farm. Here they are eagerly awaiting a visit from some bush babies!!

One last stop before the ladies departed was at Kase Bookstore, where they purchased Science books for Tumaini Students!
(Photo credit Laura Mueller)

Special Note: We are continually accepting donations of subject books for each grade level at Tumaini. These books are only available in Tanzania and range from $4-6/book. If you would like to help us expand this collection, please email me: for details!

Visitors & A Library of Books!

Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. –Charles William Eliot


Last week, as posted on Facebook, The Melrose School of Brewster, NY, donated its entire library to Tumaini Junior School! We received this fantastic connection through our friends at UNITE The World With Africa, Anne Wells, Page Bowler, and the Warren Family (UNITE TOUR Clients). Carol Hall of the Tanzania Education Corporation and Gould Academy’s Sara Shifrin packed up 80 boxes of books with the help of some volunteers, and we will begin bringing the books over in the next few months with volunteers traveling to Tanzania! Already UNITE has a number of second suitcases accounted for! If you are traveling to Tanzania and interested in carrying second suitcases on our behalf, please let me know.

In order to make room for these new books in our library, we have enlisted the help of four volunteers* from NY who are currently visiting Karatu, as well as some very eager-to-help students and our trusted librarian, Jimmy. Over the last few days, we have transformed the library and now utilize the space daily for reading lessons, craft projects such as making bookmarks and creating colorful pictures to decorate the walls, music lessons (we found a xylophone amidst the books!), singing, and for a brief time, a hair salon! The girls braided Bridget and Sadie’s hair! Needless to say, the children, teachers, and volunteers are loving it!








Earlier this week, we had the opportunity to thank the Warren family in person during their visit to Tumaini! Tracy and Andy, and their three children, Caroline, Drew and Lily, spent several hours with us as we toured the school and of course, visited the library. After a brief overview of Tumaini’s history, the children met their partners for the visit: Modesta (Class VI), Deonice (Class V), and Mary (Class IV). For the duration of the afternoon each child was glued to their partners’ side as they exchanged questions and stories about their respective homes, school experiences and hobbies. As the Warrens prepared to depart, promises of being pen pals were made so that the rich cultural exchange they experienced at Tumaini, can continue! A BIG THANK YOUto UNITEand Anne Wells for coordinating such a special visit! (Check out UNITE on Facebook)





*Our volunteers, Barb, Sadie, Bridget and Laura have all been to Tanzania before. Barb and Laura actually volunteered through Journeys of Solutions in 2010, spending time at Tumaini Junior School and Shalom Orphanage. Sadie and Bridget climbed Kili and have previously enjoyed the beautiful landscape and game parks and are thrilled to spend precious time with the children. Our girls at Tumaini are especially enjoying the volunteers’ visit!

Party Time!


Class parties today were fantastic…
(pictures above is a very amusing Class IV)

Classroom blackboards were colorfully decorated. Then the fun continued with cookies, candies and juice, in celebration of the last day of the second term. Shortly before the children were dismissed, an assembly was called and there the top 3 students of each grade were announced! Two of our sponsored pupils finished #1 and #3 in their Standard VI class of 45 students!

Congrats Eliya and Elizabeth!!!




School’s (almost) Out!

End of Term

The excitement is palpable here at Tumaini Junior School.

The teachers began preparing the end of term exams several weeks ago, which another volunteer, Andrew*, and I helped to type. As we copied the Mathematics questions, I sighed audibly, grateful I did not have to calculate the division and subtraction equations dealing with fractions! I’m positive the Standard VII students scored higher than I could have!

Most of last week the children worked tirelessly to complete these exams and now are enjoying the finals days of the term before class parties this Friday! The teachers have been pouring over the exams with red pen in hand and seem equally as excited that the end of another successful term is upon us. By Thursday, the test results should be out!

For now, the afternoons are filled with echoes of laughter, interspersed with whistles, drums, recorders, singing and dancing as every grade perfects its presentations for the big September graduation once the Standard VII children complete the National Exam (more below).

*Stay tuned for more details about Andrew’s work in Tanzania


Letter Writing

Tumaini will be closed for classes most of August so I’ve have been busy meeting with students who receive sponsorship, writing letters with them as well as looking over their report books and grades. They continue to do well and excel in their classes!

Beginning next Monday, several of the sponsored children as well as ALL Standard VII pupils will remain at Tumaini for two weeks of extra tutoring. Standard VII pupils have especially been working hard for the past three months, preparing for the big National Examination. Students must pass this exam in order to continue onto secondary school. Last year, every pupil from Tumaini passed the examination!



Temporary Library in business!

The past few weeks we’ve been working tirelessly to get the temporary library up and running at Tumaini. Thanks to Tumaini’s librarian Jimmy, as well as Sara, a visiting Librarian from the US (and countless others) there are now reference books, chapter books, and plenty of encyclopedias for the children and teachers.

Through a kind donation from a school visitor, we had several book shelves built. The library is set to be moved to the 4th story once construction is complete and the necessary funds are raised!

Note, if you’d like to donate books, Karibu sana 🙂

In the meantime, Happy reading!!







Giraffe sighting!

A haiku for you, my friends:

Sunshine so long gone
Lights shining brightly tonight
A new friend we made!


Made it to Tanzania…though my bags took their time!

Well friends,

I’ve safely arrived in Tanzania, yay!, though unfortunately my bags decided to take their time. Actually British Airways and Precision Air decided they should. The connection/layover in Nairobi was quite short so I nearly missed the plane myself! Worry you not I ran to the waiting plane on the Tarmac and demanded they open the doors for me. Politely of course and with lots of smiles and “samahani’s” (“sorry” in Kiswahili). Delicate, yes. Fierce, oh yeah!

After landing at Kilimanjaro airport around 1030PM, having traveled for nearly a whole day, I stayed the night at a local lodge . Walking upon the Tarmac to the airport I noticed a large amount of birds and silently thanked God they had remained on the ground as we flew in.

After reporting my missing bags, I headed to Kia Lodge and promptly enjoyed a nice warm shower. I relished being clean for a night before putting my travel clothes back on for the third day in a row…at least my body and hair were clean at some point!

I enjoyed the journey from Moshi to Arusha, where I caught a taxi for Karatu. Along the way I snapped a shot of the sunflowers filling the Tanzanian countryside!


I arrived safely in Karatu Friday afternoon and to my delight there is now a fire pit and wireless Internet at Happy Days, the local pub and oftentimes my office when needing shelter from the dust. It is quite chilly in the mornings and evenings so the past few evenings we have enjoyed fireside discussions, laughter, and recently roasted goat!


Tomorrow I will be surprising the children at the morning assembly…at 730am! Talk about a good morning!

Stay tuned for updates and more photos!! Thanks for reading!