All posts by Karen Stupic

Laying down roots…

Come take a tour and meet the fantastic staff based at our new Project Zawadi, Nyamuswa office!
Left to right: Neria, Adrian, Benard, Judith (Arusha Office), Maneno, Chukista

The Nyamuswa office opened its doors in January and serves as a home base for staff working in the region.  It was chosen for both its central location in the community and because it’s situated in one of the better ‘hot spots’ for internet reception (via cellular modem) in the area.  A strong internet connection was a critical consideration to ensure the best possible means of communication both within Tanzania and with the USA office.

Located within sight of the ‘big tree’, a traditional gathering spot for important community events, the office also offers convenient access to the bus stop, taxi stand, market area, restaurant/bar and small shops at the village center.  The office is a highly visible presence in the community and easy to find and get to for students, parents, teachers, and guests.

A modest but comfortable space, the new office offers a welcoming one stop shop for all things Project Zawadi.  There is office space for staff, storage for materials, tools, and equipment and meeting spaces which are perfect for everything from school counseling sessions to meetings with local officials or small trainings.  Immediately adjacent to the office is a small room available for Project Zawadi vocational graduates to hone their sewing and entrepreneurship skills as they prepare to launch their own small businesses.

Meet the staff based at our Nyamuswa office:

Adrian Maganga, Director: Adrian holds a BA in Education from Ruaha University College and has several years of teaching experience, most recently serving as headmaster (principal) at Nyamung’uta Secondary School in the Nyamuswa area.  Adrian specializes in teacher professional development and is leading efforts both locally and nationally to expand opportunities for teachers and more fully incorporate a student-centered approach to teaching and learning.

 Judith Merinyo Avungwi, Director: Judith has many years of rich experiences and training in the NGO, evaluation, education, research and health care worlds. Judith is a graduate of Moshi University College with a degree in Cooperative and Business Studies and from Sokoine University of Agriculture with an advanced degree in Community Development. Based in Arusha, Judith brings her expertise in coordinating educational, logistical, financial, vocational and social-emotional support to Project Zawadi sponsored students. She splits her time between the Arusha and Nyamuswa offices.

Neria Atieno, Counselor: Neria has served on the front lines of Project Zawadi’s sponsored student program as a Counselor for more than five years.  She provides daily support, guidance, and encouragement to sponsored students and acts as the primary liaison with teachers and families as they advance through their educations.


Chukista Malima, Counselor: Chukista is a former Project Zawadi sponsored student and graduate of St. Anthony Vocational Training Centre.  This unique perspective is invaluable in her work as a Counselor as she provides daily support, guidance, and encouragement to the next generations of sponsored students and acts as the primary liaison with teachers and families.


Maneno Wright, Special Projects Coordinator: Maneno is a graduate of Kisumu Boys High School.  After graduation he pursued his studies in carpentry and worked as a vocational carpentry instructor in Nyamuswa.  His boundless energy and enthusiasm are attributes as he heads up special projects of all kinds from construction to assisting the Counselors.


Benard Maziba, Special Projects Assistant: Benard is a former Project Zawadi sponsored student and graduate of Mwanza Vocational Training Centre’s carpentry program.  His unique perspective and knowledge of the Nyamuswa area are invaluable as the special projects assistant.


Welcome Adrian Maganga!


Project Zawadi is very happy to announce the addition of Adrian Maganga to our Tanzania-based leadership team! Adrian specializes in teacher professional development and is leading efforts both locally and nationally to expand opportunities for teachers and more fully incorporate a student-centered approach to teaching and learning. Utilizing local, national, and international resources, Adrian coordinates Project Zawadi’s efforts in this area with local primary and secondary school partners and a consortium of national education experts.

Adrian comes to Project Zawadi with a strong education background. Graduating from Ruaha University College with a BA in Education, Adrian began his career as a trade development representative for one of Tanzania’s top telecommunications companies, working as a regional lead on Mpesa (a mobile phone-based money transfer, financing and microfinancing service). From that position, he transitioned into teaching English and History at Mihingo Secondary School, where he crossed paths with visiting Project Zawadi Board Member Ian Keith. Inspired by his visit and teachers like Adrian that he met, Ian started a program called Tenda Teachers to promote the student-centered approach to teaching and advocate for increased professional development for Tanzanian teachers.

Adrian quickly joined the Tenda Teachers team as Co-Director and began setting groundwork for developing and implementing teacher trainings. He was a founding member of the National Alliance for Teacher Professional Development, and was instrumental in organizing two national meetings of educators and education professionals to promote the goal of increasing the quality of teaching and learning through professional development and accountability.

Locally in Nyamuswa, he organizes and implements the yearly English Bridge program to provide intensive English training. This gives students transitioning to secondary school a head start because the language of instruction switches from Swahili to English. He also conducts teacher trainings modeling the student-centered approach and has been working on the development of e-modules that can be distributed to teachers nationwide. All this work was done in a volunteer capacity and while continuing to teach, and most recently, working as Head of School (principal) at Nyamang’uta Secondary School.

In January 2018, Adrian officially joined the Project Zawadi team full-time. He now has an opportunity to serve a wider community of teachers and students than he otherwise could have in his work at a single school.

Adrian has definitely hit the ground running in our rural Nyamuswa office. He is continuing in his work with the Alliance, English Bridge, and e-module programs. Additionally, he has taken the lead as we develop closer partnerships with local schools and communities. He is working to kick off our Model Schools initiative that will provide infrastructure, professional development, and co-curricular support to schools following a plan developed by the school and local community and addressing their stated priorities.

Adrian lives in Nyamuswa with his wife, Joyce (who is also a secondary school teacher), and their two children, Alvin and Alicia. Originally from the Kigoma region of Tanzania, his educational experience and expertise offers a unique connection to teachers and schools. We are so excited by Adrian’s energy, passion and knowledge, and look forward to seeing how the Tenda Teachers program of Project Zawadi develops through his leadership!

Karibu sana, Adrian!

Brian Recounts Distribution Day 2018

Chukista Malima, Judith Merinyo and Nerea Atieno help Yasini Hamisi Mankaba prepare for the new school year.
I was so inspired on this visit to Tanzania witnessing a large group of students excited to start a new school year. Too often in Tanzania, financial difficulties destroy all hopes for an education. Even when education is ‘free’ like in primary school, there are other costs for uniforms and school supplies that make it very difficult and sometimes impossible for a child to attend school. Each year, working with local communities, Project Zawadi identifies the neediest students at our partner schools and sponsors them. Often, these students have lost their parents and are living with relatives or neighbors that were already financially stretched thin. Other times, there is an illness or disability in the family that puts the family in great financial distress.  
It is my experience that Tanzanians will help each other out as much as possible. When funds are not available for education, students and their families will often travel from village to village and town to town visiting family and friends asking for the help needed to continue with school. Sometimes they are able to cobble together the funds. All too often, they aren’t. Instead of taking the path to school the student has no option but to take the path home.  

Zawadi supports 250 such students each year and provides shoes, uniforms, notebooks, textbooks, book bags, and other supplies important for school. Any relevant school fees are paid and perhaps most importantly, we give them a promise. If they are very serious about studying and do well in school, we will support them as far as their education will take them.  
Students receive their supplies for the upcoming school year. | Brian addresses the community as part of Distribution Day activities.

Every January, I visit Nyamuswa village for the distribution of supplies to our sponsored students. I was there again this year and it was truly a great day. As I watched some of the students trying on shoes, I thought about how exciting it was for me when I was a student and received new school clothes and supplies. Starting a new year of school is always exciting. Imagine how exciting it must be for those students who wondered if they would be able to attend school at all. 

It is truly my privilege to visit Tanzania to see how money from Project Zawadi donors and sponsors quite literally clears the path to school for so many young people. Thank you to everyone that supports what we do.

–Brian Singer, President and Founder of Project Zawadi

New Year, New Vision

New Year, New Vision
New Year, New Vision

In this season of New Year’s resolutions, the turning of the calendar to 2018 marks a new chapter for Project Zawadi. Throughout 2017, our talented Board delved deep into a comprehensive strategic planning effort for the organization. After nearly two decades of existence, it was time to check in with our founding principles, evaluate the progress of our program towards accomplishing our mission, and cast an eye to the future direction for Project Zawadi.

Guided through this process by an accomplished strategic planning consultant, we are so happy with the results of this effort and the clear direction it provides for our future work! Our unwavering support of Tanzanian children as they pursue education as a means for achieving self-reliance was reaffirmed. But it became clear through this process that there is an opportunity for us to have an even greater impact in the years to come.

So over several months of evaluation, research, and discussion, we developed a strategic plan that reflects our role within the changing conditions in Tanzanian education and incorporates the lessons learned over the past 17 years of Project Zawadi programming. This new plan holds true to our core values and founding principles, provides a clear long-range strategy for advancing our mission, and charts an exciting path forward with specific strategic goals to help us make sure we’re staying on track.

Over the coming months, we look forward to sharing these new aspects of the programs with you through a series of blog and social media posts.

We’ll introduce you to:

  • some new faces of our local partners;
  • our evolving approach to improving education including an aspect that we are tentatively calling the Model Schools Program;
  • the Tenda Teachers Program that is working to specifically provide professional development to teachers and improve the quality of education for all local students;
  • some updates to the Sponsorship Program and the continued progress of PZ sponsored students.
Easy ways to stay connected and up to date on our progress:

Letters from Sponsors to Students

We are often asked if it is appropriate for sponsors to send a letter directly to their sponsored student(s).  The answer is a resounding yes!  The children love to hear from you and very much appreciate receiving personal notes from their sponsors.

What about a gift?  This process has evolved over the years and we have come to the conclusion that equity in the gift receiving process is very important to our students.  To that end, we will be providing pre-made gift bags to all of our sponsored students.  

We will be asking all of our sponsrs to underwrite their student(s) gift bag and consider underwriting additional bags for students who do not have a one-to-one sponsor.

Each January, Project Zawadi visits Nyamuswa village to do an annual site visit.  This visit corresponds to the beginning of the new Tanzanian school year and Distribution Day events where students gather to receive their school uniforms, books and supplies.  This year, Brian, our Program Founder and President, will be visiting the village for Distribution Day.

Brian is happy to carry with him and hand deliver a personal letter and/or photos from sponsors to their sponsored student(s).  We invite all sponsors to take advantage of this opportunity to send a personal note to compliment the pre-made gift bags.

Pre-made Gift Bags for Project Zawadi students include: 
• 24 pack of Crayons
• Dual Blade Barrel Pencil Sharpener
• 3-Ring Pencil Pouch
• Child Toothbrush
• Toothbrush Cap
• 3 oz Toothpaste
• Comb
• 3 oz Fresh Scent Soap
• 2 oz Hand/Body Lotion
**NEW THIS YEAR** Grade Specific Math Flashcards or Student Dictionary 

STEP 1: Decide if you would like to underwrite a pre-made gift bag for your student(s) ($5 per gift bag) and/or send a personal letter.

STEP 2: Please mail your student letter and/or gift bag payment by Monday, January 8Print out this form to underwrite gift bags and send with your letter(s).

STEP 3: Spread the love.  Feel free to purchase extra gift bags for students who do not have a one-to-one sponsor.

Please mail letters/photos and gift bag underwriting by January 8 to:




PS.  If you have not yet renewed your sponsorship for the 2018 school year, you can do so here: . Please indicate that your donation is for “Sponsorship” in the designation field. You can also add the gift bag underwriting to your sponsorship renewal.  (Example $200 for Sponsorship + $5 for gift bag = $205 total)


PPS. If you are a new sponsor and haven’t yet been assigned a student, we will be contacting you soon with new student information.


Questions?  Comment below or send an email to Lori at

Tenda Teachers Fall 2017 Update

From Mara Region to Nationwide!

In just two years the Tenda Teachers Program has broadened its education efforts from intensive work in the rural Mara Region of Tanzania to include an ambitious nation-wide effort to improve teacher training and professional development across the entire country.  From working with 250 teachers, headmasters and school district officials, we now have the opportunity to impact 179,000 teachers at over 16,000 schools nationwide and improve learning opportunities for millions of Tanzanian students!

Tenda Teachers efforts will be focused on the following key educational goals this year:

  • Nationwide:
    • Improve the quality of teaching, through professional development and accountability, to improve student learning.
  • In the Mara Region:
    • Provide English instruction to students prior to entering secondary English is the language of instruction in secondary school and is used in all important national examinations.
    • Offer practical hands on science learning opportunities for students to prepare them for careers in science, industry, and business.
    • Create adequately resourced, model public schools

The Alliance for Teacher Professional Development in Tanzania  

Tenda Teachers organized two national meetings of education professionals in 2017.  Representing government Ministries, universities, and local, national, and international NGOs active in education in Tanzania, these meetings resulted in the creation of an alliance to promote teacher training and professional development throughout the country.  In July 2017 the Alliance for Teacher Professional Development in Tanzania was formally established and Tenda Teachers/Project Zawadi tasked with managing the organization. The Alliance’s initial focus is on initiatives to create professional development days in the school calendar and to establish an E-Training program for all primary school teachers in the country.  It was agreed that the E-Training program would be a partnership with Tenda Teachers and the Tanzania Ministry of Education.

English Bridge Program

This year two hundred students have been selected to participate in our two-month intensive English program prior to the beginning of secondary school that commences in January 2018. This year the number of students participating in the program has doubled to 200 and includes Project Zawadi sponsored students.

Hands-On Science Clubs  

One hundred students from five primary and secondary schools will participate in our innovative science club program beginning in January 2018.  In coordination with Peace Corps and other partners in Tanzania, practical hands-on science activity kits were developed that will enable students to practice the scientific method and to learn practical skills that will help them with future employment and educational opportunities.

High Performing Model Schools

Through an extensive strategic planning process, Project Zawadi will be expanding its programmatic reach and investing resources to create model programs at local primary and secondary schools.  These schools will receive intensive teacher training and professional development; offer enhanced English instruction for students and Hands-On Science Clubs; participate in the Tenda Teachers Sister School program; and benefit from infrastructure support to improve access to water, sanitation and housing for students and staff.


International Day of the Girl–October 11

As we honor and celebrate International Day of the Girl, a day aimed to highlight and address the needs and challenges girls face, while promoting girls’ empowerment and fulfillment of their human rights,  Project Zawadi is proud to share a news article by Rotary International highlighting the achievements of sponsored student, Wanzita Ally.

Click here to check out the article! 

Wanzita spent the 2016-2017 school year in Minnesota as a Rotary Youth Exchange student.  She has since returned to Tanzania to pursue her goal of becoming a nurse.  Later this month, Wanzita (with help from A2T) will be relocating to Arusha where she will begin the Community Health Worker Course at Arusha Lutheran Medical Centre School of Nursing.  Congratulations, Wanzita!

Welcome Judith Avugwi, Director of Educational Support!

Project Zawadi is thrilled to announce the addition of Ms. Judith Merinyo Avugwi to our team.  As the new Director of Educational Support, Judith joins our Tanzanian-based leadership team to offer ongoing support for PZ students in secondary and tertiary levels beyond Nyamuswa.  Ms. Avugwi’s specialty is coordinating the educational, logistical, financial, vocational and social-emotional support offered by Project Zawadi to our sponsored students.  Since joining our team in August of 2017, PZ students have benefitted from Ms. Avugwi’s mentorship and deep knowledge of the various courses of study and associated vocational opportunities available in Tanzania.  From securing students’ school forms and fees to being a compassionate and wise counselor, Judith is there to ensure Project Zawadi students transition successfully into their new schools and beyond, into adulthood.  

In 2012, Ms. Avugwi joined a research and evaluation project with the University of Minnesota.  In her capacity as a leading qualitative researcher for this project, Ms. Avugwi worked closely with Tanzanian youth completing secondary school and transitioning into higher education and adulthood.  Her mentoring, interviewing, analysis, organizing, translating, leadership and cross-cultural communication skills were so exceptional that she returned to this project for four consecutive years.  Among the many researchers on that project was PZ Board member Laura Wangsness Willemsen, with whom Ms. Avugwi later worked on her dissertation research.  Ms. Avugwi contributed significantly to both projects, and she distinguished herself as a compassionate and wise mentor to young Tanzanians, many of whom came from marginalized backgrounds similar to Project Zawadi students.  Beyond her work with the University of Minnesota, Ms. Avugwi comes to PZ with many years of rich experience and training in the NGO, evaluation, education, research and health care worlds.  She has worked in Kenya, Zambia and Tanzania with entities such as Agri-Finance Africa, World Vision and the Arusha Lutheran Medical Centre, where she most recently served as Education Coordinator for the Pan African Academy of Christian Surgeons Training Program.  Ms. Avugwi holds diplomas from the Moshi University College of Cooperative and Business Studies and The Constitute College of Sokoine University of Agriculture in both Community Development (advanced diploma) and Cooperative Management.  She has presented her evaluation work at conferences in the Netherlands and Tanzania.  

Ms. Avugwi lives in Arusha with her husband Jeff, and their two children, Joshua and Jeanelle.  Originally from a farming family in northern Tanzania, her diverse educational, professional and life experiences offer Project Zawadi students a window into various possibilities to which they might aspire as they continue to pursue their own goals.  We at Project Zawadi are grateful for Ms. Avugwi’s dynamism, passion and wisdom, and we look forward to seeing how PZ students’ lives are enriched by her leadership and service.

Karibu sana Judith!!


Alumni Profile: Elibariki Walter

As an orphan, Elibariki was raised in the city of Arusha at a center for street children called Children For Children’s Future (CCF). Elibariki first learned to read and write at CCF where he also developed a strong passion for music. He sang in a group of six young boys. They called themselves the Bongo Street Boys. “We were young,” he recalled, “but we were singing big things. Hip-hop songs about children’s rights.”

Elibariki was first sponsored by Project Zawadi in 2003 at the age of 14. Looking back, he views Project Zawadi as a parent of sorts, “[without PZ] I wouldn’t be where I am at the moment. Maybe I would’ve been dead already.” When PZ learned about Elibariki’s talent for producing music, they sponsored him to attend music school in Nairobi, Kenya. He learned to use some new software and make his own beats. Below is a song that was produced by Elibariki.



In recent news, as a result of his hard work and strong affinity for working with people, Elibariki was hired to work for Project Rehema, an organization that provides basic needs and support to orphans and other vulnerable children and families across Tanzania. Elibariki explained, “My job is to hug them, put smiles on their faces, to make them forget that they are orphans.” He is very happy and fulfilled in his new job. He claims, “It is like I was born for this job. It reminds me where I came from. I am doing it from the deepest part of my heart because I have an experience of being an orphan.”