All posts by Karen Stupic

Student Profile: Wanzita Ally

Wanzita Fall 2016

Wanzita was first sponsored by Project Zawadi in 2009 when she was in Standard 5. She made steady progress in her studies and completed Form 4 at Makongoro Secondary school in 2015. 

Nearly two months have passed since Project Zawadi’s student, Wanzita Ally, arrived in Minnesota as a North Star Rotary Youth Exchange student.   It is amazing how much can happen in such a short period of time!

Wanzita arrived August 11 after overcoming many hurdles to get here. First, Max Madoro, Executive Director of Zinduka, needed to help Wanzita’s mother get her birth certificate so that, in turn, Wanzita could get her birth certificate. Then, with many trips back and forth to Dar es Salaam, Wanzita’s passport and visa were finally in hand. There were moments when we wondered if we would get all of these details done before the deadline to travel.

Since Wanzita had little experience traveling from home, Access 2 Tanzania asked one of their safari groups to accompany Wanzita from Kilimanjaro airport to Amsterdam airport and to her connecting gate. Once there, Wanzita had a direct flight into Minneapolis where she found a small welcoming committee!   We are thankful to Mary Koenes’ family for watching over Wanzita so attentively; this eased our anxieties as well.   We also found a connection to the pilot into Minneapolis, Kevin Tomashiro, who watched over her and even invited her to visit the cockpit before take-off!

The Nystrom family (Brent, Jenny, Kenyon and Elsa) has lovingly welcomed Wanzita into their home and have found her a great fit for their family.  They have made her feel safe and secure and guided her through all of the many things that are new to her.  Their son, Kenyon, is a runner on the High School Cross Country team and now so is Wanzita.  She has been dedicated to the team and has proved to be a strong runner. Jenny says, “We are so lucky to be able to host her.”

Both of Brent and Jenny’s parents lived in Tanzania and this has been a great connection for them to discover, in new ways, those aspects about their parents.

One other fun thing that Wanzita has done is to learn to ride a bike!  Biking and all sorts of new things are on her list of firsts. She approaches each one with lots of enthusiasm and is always quick to say “YES” to many invitations to learn more.

She chose to take some fairly challenging courses in school…child psychology, biology and others.  Her biology teacher was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kenya and offers her some words of encouragement in Swahili. She is interested in becoming a nurse and this will give her a good foundation for that when she returns to Tanzania next July. This year of English immersion will give a great advantage when she returns to Tanzania.

Yes, winter will be a new experience and she has already expressed how cold it is.  Not yet, we tell her, knowing it is to get much colder!   We have already seen how resilient she is and we have no doubt she will embrace and conquer the winter with the same kind of determination!

Stay tuned for that update!

We are proud to post this update on Wanzita, today, October 11, 2016, International Day of the Girl – #DayOfTheGirl #IDG2016

Read more about International Day of the Girl Child at:

Student Profile: A Story of Resilience

Meaning of Resilience:  the ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens. 

IMG_6163 (crop)This word describes most of the PZ students, but one in particular comes to mind when we think of a resilient student.

Jane Doe* was the first born in 1996 to a happily married couple in a nearby village to Naymuswa.   When she was yet quite young, her father died, which left her mother with three small children to care for.  Her mother, in an effort to find support for her family, married another man.  Unfortunately, the man was HIV positive and in turn infected Jane’s mother and after a prolonged period of being ill, she died.

Not many days after the burial of Jane’s mother, the step father took over the care of Jane and subjected her to extra work and he raped her on numerous occasions, until she also was infected with AIDS.   It was the neighbors who noticed some suspicious behaviors and they reported this to the local authorities at which time the man ran away. Jane’s family members and elders were trying to hide what had happened, for fear of shame in the community.

But, when Jane’s Guardian Teacher heard about what happened she reported it to the school counselors.  After a tender and personal conversation with Jane, she opened up and confided what had happened.

Soon after this, Jane was taken to the Patient Support Center (PSC) to begin taking ARV medication to treat the AIDS.  Since this time, Jane has been staying with her step-brother until she completed her primary education in 2015 and from there she joined the Zinduka Vocational Center to focus her education on tailoring and needle work.   Jane now lives in the dorm at the school and eats in the new cafeteria (made possible by the Chakula Challenge)!

These particular skills will give her an opportunity in the future to create her own income. She is particularly motivated and enthusiastic.  Her school counselor mentions that she is a girl of a great deal of integrity known by the way she behaves with her fellow classmates and her teachers; despite being ill-treated in primary school.   Her school counselor reports, “despite all of the above, we observed that the girl is interested from the bottom of her heart to learn and innovate new ideas in the tailoring field”.

Jane is thankful for the support of her sponsors and to all of the Project Zawadi donors who make ‘possibility’ happen.

We are most thankful for the resilience that lives within Jane, and the other students with Project Zawadi, to stay hopeful for a wonderful future!

*We have changed the student’s name to protect her privacy.

Spring Eco-Challenge: Water

EcoChallenge: Water

The Eco-Challenge was initiated this past Fall with the intent to create a specific ‘challenge’ project that will have a lasting positive impact on the quality of education that PZ students will receive and will be completed in a way that is eco-friendly.  The water component of the project is our first priority and is 57% complete ($12,000 raised to date).  We need to raise $9,000 more to build three water tanks at partner schools.

Funds from the Fall 2015 Eco-Challenge have been used to purchase the necessary equipment and supplies to make the eco-friendly curved bricks that will become rainwater collection tanks. Historically, the process for making baked mud bricks required the death of several trees for every structure. This new process requires no baking, it costs less, looks better and builds stronger, longer-lasting structures. Our initial goal is to build 3 water tanks at partner schools along with rain gutters and necessary materials to provide clean water for each school and teacher’s home.


  • $3,000 – Curved Brick Press (Funded by Bruce and Jackie Erickson)
  • $7,500 – Brick Storage Building
  • $10,500 – 3 Rain Water Tanks at $3,500 each

SUBTOTAL $21,000 – RAISED $12,000 – NEEDED $9,000                                 

The Spring Eco-Challenge will be launched in conjunction with the Little Libraries project. Project Zawadi is actively seeking individuals and groups who are willing to lead this initiative. Please consider joining us at one of the following levels.

Platinum level – $10,000
Gold level – $5,000
Silver level – $2,500
Bronze level – $1,000

Lead donors will be honored in the annual Project Zawadi newsletter and their names will appear on a plaque on at least one of the structures.

DONATE or PLEDGE by Friday, April 22
and celebrate Earth Day (April 22)

Donate Online Now

When donating online please note : “ECO-CHALLENGE” in the designation field.

Alternate methods of giving or pledging your gift:
To Pledge a gift by April 22, 2016 you can email or submit the paper donation / pledge form. Pledged gifts must be fulfilled by June 30, 2016.
Donations by check can be made out to “Project Zawadi” and mailed to 253 Duke Street, Saint Paul, MN 55102.
Click here for paper donation / pledge form.
Thank you to our initial Lead Donors!
Gold Level – Bruce and Jackie Erickson Bronze Level – Tim and Lisa Benroek, Megan and Barrett Ellis, Malcolm and Mary Morris, Azim Rawji and Robin Van Liew

Books for Africa: Little Libraries


Project Zawadi is thrilled to announce that it is the recipient of one container (approximately 22,000 books) to be shipped to Tanzania free of charge by Books for Africa! The free shipment is valued at $10,000!

This incredible opportunity was facilitated by Project Zawadi Board Members Ron Aminzade and Ian Keith. Ron and Ian worked with Books for Africa to identify books that would be of the greatest benefit for our community in rural Tanzania. Project Zawadi was even given the opportunity to pack a palette (about 1,000 books) of hand-selected books from the Saint Paul, MN Books for Africa warehouse that will be utilized in ongoing teacher training initiatives spearheaded by Ian.

So what to do with 22,000 books? Let’s make some Little Libraries!

Project Zawadi, in partnership with Zinduka, has decided to build Little Libraries at 15 partner schools. Here is where we need your support.


  • $3,000  – Shipment of Container from Dar es Salaam to Nyamuswa Village
  • $6,000 – Shelving and space prep at each site
  • $9,000 – TOTAL BUDGET ($600 per Little Library)
Little Library Naming Opportunities:

A donation of $600 will offer naming rights to one of the fifteen Little Libraries to be established in our core community schools (Nyamuswa Village and surrounding villages in the Chamriho Division).

A naming donation of $600 can be done individually or as what we would like to call a “Book Club Donation” where a small group of individual donors collect at least $600 in donations/pledges to name one Little Library in honor of the Book Club group.

Of course, donations of any amount are welcome to support this endeavor…putting books in the hands of students and teachers in our core community.

DONATE or PLEDGE by Friday, April 22
and celebrate UN World Book Day (April 23)

Donate Online Now

Donate online individually to name one (1) Little Library or make a general donate to the project (please note : “LITTLE LIBRARIES” in the designation field)

Alternate methods of giving or pledging your gift:
To Pledge a gift by April 22, 2016 you can email or submit the paper donation / pledge form. Pledged gifts must be fulfilled by June 30, 2016.
Donations by check can be made out to “Project Zawadi” and mailed to 253 Duke Street, Saint Paul, MN 55102.
Click here for paper donation / pledge form.
Thank you to the following donors who have given to name one of our Little Library sites:
Michelle and Dean Ahrenholtz & family
Ron Aminzade
Mary Baker, Shanny Dow, Dorothy Dow
Michelle Fabian
Pat and John Guyette
Robin Huselius
Lumarda Family
Clayton and Jan Kooiker
Irene and John McMorrow
Linda Miller
Malcolm and Mary Morris
Jennifer Peltzer
Gary and Diane Rumsey
Marion Wanless
Katherine Webster and Family

Chakula Challenge Update

VTC KitchenIn 2014, the Vocational Training Centre (VTC) opened its doors to boarding students, providing a safe environment for students to pursue their studies.  A kitchen, dining area, water collection system and food storage were urgently needed to provide clean, safe meals.

In the Fall of 2014 we initiated the Chakula Challenge and by the beginning of 2015, we had the funding in place to begin this significant project.

At long last the Chakula Challenge is complete and it’s a wonderful thing!

Yes, it took a little longer than we anticipated but that is only because we waited to receive training on how to use our new incredible eco-brick presses before we started construction.  It was important that we used the new presses.  These bricks are stronger, better- looking and cost less than traditional bricks.   Furthermore, this new process is eco-friendly because NO tree are cut down to bake mud bricks.

Click here to see a video of the brick making process.
Now the VTC has a beautiful new dining hall for the students (that will double as a study hall), a modern instructional kitchen and a rainwater collection system.  The VTC students are now using the dining hall and rainwater every day.  A cooking instructor has been hired and classes will start any week.  The students are now living quite comfortably at the VTC dormitory and are able to focus on their studies.

Chakula Challenge in Process
Brick by brick, the Dining Hall and Kitchen are coming together.
The interior of the Dining Hall and Kitchen during the “finishing” phase of construction.
Completed! Dining Hall outfitted with tables for studying and eating. Celebratory “Fanta” at inaugural meal.

Thank you to everyone who made the Chakula Challenge possible!  

“Kaete’s Kitchen” – Kitchen sponsored by Fred & Kaete Binter

“Williams’ Bwalo la Kula-Soma” – Dining Hall sponsored by Sandra & Peter Williams
 Thank you to our Lead Donors!
Platinum: Fred and Kaete Binter, Sandra and Peter Williams
Gold: The Benroeck Family including matching funds from Microsoft, Mike and Paula Champion, Clayton and Janice Kooiker
Silver: Bruce and Jackie Erickson
Bronze: Roger and Maureen Osborne, Betsy Parks, Azim Rawji and Robin Van Liew, Megan and Barrett Ellis, Marion Wanless and David Eidenberg, Robin Huselius and Maria Wallstedt

Additional support from: Ron Aminzade, Tanya Barnett and Jay Geck, Bill and Lisa Callahan, Penny Greenblatt, Jane and Kirk Grimm, Dennis Hamann, Barney and Janet Lee, Phil and Nancy Leinbach, Gary and Carolyn Martyn, Mitzi and Fred McCormick, Amy and Joel Nesset, Jeffrey and Mary Perril, Lorrie and Ken Porte, Jackie Prince, Ben and Brandi Roberts, Michelle Skally and Jim Doilney, Rebecca Skally and John Stanley,  Shannon and Chad Skally, Michael Talbot and Jim Glenn, Mark and Paula Tanabe, Hallie Vavrus, Thomas Wilebski

Student Gift Bags from Sponsors

Bunuri Wanna with her sponsor giftWe are often asked if it’s appropriate for sponsors to send a letter or gift 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 or small gifts from their sponsors.

Each January, Project Zawadi president and founder, Brian Singer, visits Nyamuswa village to do his 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.

Brian is happy to carry with him and hand deliver a personal letter and/or a small gift for your sponsored student(s) and we invite all sponsors to take advantage of this opportunity if they would like to send something.

We are also often asked for ideas of small gifts that are appreciated by the students.  Please keep in mind that baggage space is limited and with the large number of sponsored students, we ask that all items fit into one quart-sized Ziploc bag that is clearly labeled with your student’s full name and school.

Below is a list of gift ideas sponsors have sent in the past:

  • Notebooks or coloring books
  • Pens, pencils or crayons
  • Small sewing kit
  • Jewelry – beaded bracelets, necklaces, etc.
  • Matchbox cars
  • Small dolls or action figures
  • Hand crank flashlight
  • Candy – especially suckers, gum, etc. (chocolate melts)
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Scented soaps and lotions
  • Children’s books (especially English – Swahili)
  • Pocket-sized English dictionary
  • Deflated soccer ball and inflation pin for hand pump
  • “Nerf” toy
  • Travel-sized games
  • Baseball cap
  • T-shirt with logo from your home city/state/country or pop culture
  • Photo album with scenes from daily life

Pre-made Gift Bag for Project Zawadi students includes: Coloring Book, 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 and 2 oz Hand/Body Lotion

STEP 1: Decide if you would like to (a) make a homemade gift bag (limited to one 1-Quart-size Ziploc bag) or to (b) buy a pre-made gift bag for your student(s) ($5/per gift bag).
STEP 2: Please mail your package or place your order for a gift bag by Friday, December 18. If you are ordering a pre-made gift bag, feel free to mail us a letter to include in your student’s gift bag. Click here for an order form.
STEP 3: Spread the love. To help ensure that students without sponsors receive gifts, feel free to purchase extra gift bags to be handed out on Distribution Day.

Please mail packages or place your gift bag order by December 18th to:




Please remember that due to the large number of students and our limited suitcase space that gifts and letters MUST fit inside of one 1-QUART sized Ziploc bag per student.


PS: If you haven’t yet renewed your sponsorship for the 2016 school year, you can do so here:

PPS: Questions? Contact Lori Spahn, Communications, at

Universal Children’s Day – Friday, November 20


Last year, our donors helped us raise over $40,000 raised in one day! Project Zawadi is again embracing Universal Children’s Day as our annual giving event day.

So mark your calendars for Friday, November 20 (just 4 weeks away) and look for updates via mail, email and social media on how Project Zawadi will celebrate.  Plan your giving early as there will be matches available for gifts received or pledged by November 20 (mail post marked by November 20 counts too).

In the meantime, we’d love to connect with you electronically! Email to be added to the email list, like Project Zawadi on Facebook  or follow @ProjectZawadi  on Twitter.

2015 Eco-Challenge



BACKGROUND: Project Zawadi makes a promise to each of our students when they enter into sponsorship that, as long as they put forth their best efforts, Project Zawadi will support them in their education for as far as their studies take them. Once a year, we ask PZ donors to help us keep that promise by making a contribution to the General or Sponsorship funds. This year (for the second time) we are offering our donors the opportunity to increase their support and contribute to a specific ‘challenge’ project that will have a lasting positive impact on the quality of education that the PZ students will receive. This year’s challenge focuses on providing essential electricity, water and food to PZ students and their teachers in a way that is eco-friendly.

NEEDS: (1) Currently there are approximately only 55 teachers working in the 9 primary schools that PZ students attend. There should be approximately 72 teachers. However, the schools have great trouble retaining quality teachers because life can be so difficult at rural schools – no running water, no electricity, a lack of housing, etc.  Because of these difficulties, many teachers will jump at the opportunity to take a job in a city. That is why PZ has helped build several teachers’ houses over the years. But we want to take it a step further by providing electricity and access to water to several schools that need it badly.

(2) Agriculture plays a huge role in Tanzania’s culture and economy however, food crop varieties are extremely limited. Essentially, a lack of agricultural awareness contributes to the lasting prevalence of malnutrition in rural Tanzania.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The Eco- Challenge will fund the purchase of materials necessary to construct 3 rainwater collection tanks (built with eco-friendly bricks) at 3 primary schools, solar panels for the Vocational Training Center (VTC) and for 10 teacher’s homes and a green gardening educational program at the VTC.

E_SDG_Icons-06Water Tanks for clean and accessible water:  Funds will be used to purchase the necessary equipment and supplies to make the eco-friendly curved bricks that will become rainwater collection tanks. Historically the process for making baked mud bricks required the death of several trees for every structure. This new process requires no baking, it costs less, looks better and builds stronger, longer-lasting structures. Our initial goal is to build 3 water tanks at the teacher’s houses along with rain gutters and necessary materials to provide clean water for each home.   The teacher’s homes were built with proper roofing materials needed to be rainwater catchments; now, we just need the water tanks for storage.

E_SDG_Icons-07Solar power for 10 teacher’s homes and the VTC:  Solar panels with appropriate lighting and power supply for 10 teacher’s homes, will transform the life of a teacher and their family.  Traditionally, kerosene lanterns have been used in the village homes after the sun sets at about 6 pm, which does not adequately supply lighting for reading and other next day preparations. Furthermore, the fumes from kerosene lanterns are known to be harmful while solar panels are not only eco-friendly, but provide free electricity.

E_SDG_Icons-08Green gardening practices taught and demonstrated at the VTC:  A qualified Tanzanian educator will be hired to teach the students about green gardening practices on a parcel of land purchased with funds from the Eco Challenge.  There is a real potential of supplying food for feeding the students at the VTC as well as becoming an income generator for the school or local farmers.  Almost all community members have land to grow food on, but having the opportunity to teach the students new concepts in gardening will increase production and introduce a healthier diet.  We look forward to the day when the VTC can supply enough produce to meet its own dietary requirements.

BUDGET: Below are the general budget details for the Eco- Challenge. Line item details are available upon request.

Item                                                                        Cost

Curved Brick Press and Brick Storage Building   
Curved Brick Press                                           $3,000
3 Water tanks at $3500 each                        $10,500
Storage Building                                               $8,000
SUBTOTAL                                                               $21,500

Solar Lights and Converters
10 Solar Panels  for Teachers Houses     $15,000
VTC                                                                         $5,000
SUBTOTAL                                                               $20,000

Green Gardening
Educator                                                              $4,800
Plot of Land                                                        $1.000
Gardening tools, seeds, shed, pump       $3,000
SUBTOTAL                                                               $8,800

TOTAL ECO-CHALLENGE                            $50,300


FUNDRAISING: The 2015 Eco-Challenge will be launched in conjunction with the Project Zawadi Annual Appeal period in November and December, 2015. Project Zawadi is actively seeking individuals and groups who are willing to lead this initiative. Please consider joining us at one of the following levels.

Platinum level – $10,000*
Gold level – $5,000*
Silver level – $2,500
Bronze level – $1,000

Lead donors will be honored in the annual Project Zawadi newsletter and their names will appear on a plaque on at least one of the structures.

These lead donations are crucial to the project’s success as they demonstrate significant progress towards the fundraising goal and act to incentivize subsequent donors to make a donation to top off the effort. Please click here for the Eco-Challenge Pledge Form. Pledges can be fulfilled up until June 30, 2016.

The United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development includes 17 Global Goals.  Project Zawadi embraces 6 of these Global Goals.  The Eco-Challenge addresses three of these Global Goals: #6, #7 and #8.

Teach for Tanzania


Dear Friends and Family,

I am writing to ask for your support for the Teach for Tanzania (TFT) projects. This summer I conducted teacher trainings and co-taught in Tanzanian rural schools. This effort generated the TFT projects to improve teaching and learning in Tanzanian schools. I am directing this effort in collaboration with Project Zawadi and a Tanzanian leadership team of teachers and headmasters.

Please take a look at the projects and consider making a donation. Your generous support will make a difference in the lives of Tanzanian children.

— Ian Keith

Ian Keith teaching in Nyamuswa, Tanzania in the summer of 2015
Ian Keith teaching in Nyamuswa, Tanzania in the summer of 2015
Active Learning Teacher Handbook

This project will create an innovative and practical handbook with descriptions, rationales and video clips of active learning strategies and other best teaching practices for Tanzanian teachers. The handbook and DVD clips will be in Swahili to help Tanzanian teachers better understand the strategies and ideas. The filming will be done in Tanzanian schools so that teachers can see how these methods can be applied in their classrooms. The handbook will be distributed to schools in the Mara District of Tanzania that participate in trainings led by accomplished teachers from the Active Learning Demonstration Schools. Project Zawadi will plan for broader distribution of this handbook to other districts and teaching colleges around the country. Year one investment: $9,800

Active Learning Demonstration Schools

Lecture style instruction and rote memorization are common practices in Tanzanian schools. These strategies are effective with some students, but large numbers of students are failing the national exams. The goals of this project are to create two active learning demonstration schools in the Mara District of Tanzania, train teachers in effective active learning strategies, provide critically needed teaching materials and offer additional intensive English language instruction between primary and secondary school. One hundred teachers and roughly 1500 students will be impacted.  Year one investment: $18,400

Sister Schools

Project Zawadi will help create partnerships between schools in the Mara District and in St. Paul, Minnesota in the United States. These sister schools will establish pen pal relationships, study each other’s countries and share photographs and information about their cultures and and lives. In addition, school communities in the United States will hold annual fundraisers to raise money to support their Tanzanian partner schools. Year one investment: $3,600.

How to Donate

Make checks payable to Project Zawadi and mail checks to: Ian Keith, 1791 Dayton Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55104.

Donations can also be made online using Dwolla (electronic funds transfer) or Network for Good (credit card transaction).

Denote Teach for Tanzania on the memo line of your check or on your online donation designation.

Click on links for full project details.

Active Learning Handbook
Active Learning Schools
Sister Schools

2016 Project Zawadi Donor Trip Announced

We invite you to join the 3rd Annual Project Zawadi Donor Trip…
Members of the 2015 trip (Thea, Bette & Carol) at the Nyamuswa market buying chickens.













Mark your calendars for this special opportunity! Join PZ founder, Brian Singer, on his 2016 visit to Tanzania where you will spend 13 days exploring Tanzania on safari in the spectacular national parks, meeting PZ students and experiencing village life, and participating in the annual distribution of school supplies to PZ students.

For more information contact Karen Stupic at 866-589-6116. Space is limited.