Category Archives: Success Stories

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.”

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.

Mazera’s Road Trip to Tanga

Mazera and Brian
Mazera and PZ President Brian Singer

Though Nyamuswa is right on the doorstep of the Serengeti, most PZ students will never have the means to visit this World Heritage Site or any of the other national park treasures of Tanzania.  But PZ-sponsored student Mazera did have the opportunity to visit both the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater National Parks in January.  In 2013, Mazera  scored very highly on the national examinations at the end of primary school and was placed at a math and science high school in Tanga, a coastal community located far away across the country from Nyamuswa.

Mazera game-viewing in the Serengeti
Mazera game-viewing in the Serengeti

As luck would have it, the timing worked out so that Mazera and PZ Counselor Adam Musa could hitch a free ride part of the way to Tanga with PZ President Brian Singer who was returning to Arusha from Nyamuswa on his annual visit for Distribution Day activities.  Since the road passes right through the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Conservation area, Mazera had the unique opportunity to do some game driving along the way!


PZ Counselor Adam Musa and Mazera at Ngorongoro Crater overlook.
PZ Counselor Adam Musa and Mazera at Ngorongoro Crater overlook.

Mazera is now back in Nyamuswa and, after a successful first semester in secondary school, is busy with tutoring and additional studies before returning to Tanga at the end of July.  Look for more updates on Mazera in the forthcoming PZ Summer newsletter which will be in mailboxes in early July!

Throwback Thursday – Dotto and Kurwa

From the vaults of PZ for Throwback Thursday #TBT.  Meet Dotto and Kurwa, twin brothers that began as sponsored students with Project Zawadi way back in 2002.  Today, Dotto and Kurwa are both pursuing a high-level architectural drafting vocational program at the same school in Dar es Salaam and well on the road to successful architectural careers.  Perhaps one day they’ll be the designers for some of Project Zawadi’s construction projects!

Dotto and Kurwa 2014
Dotto and Kurwa pursuing their architectural drafting program in 2014.
Kurwa in 2002
Dotto in 2002




Benard MazibaBenard first became a PZ sponsored student in 2006.  Upon completing primary school, Benard elected to join a carpentry program at a nearby vocational training center.  After successfully earning his Grade 1 Carpentry certificate in 2011, Benard began volunteering at the new Zinduka Vocational Training Centre in Nyamuswa.  Described as a hardworking boy by PZ’s community partner Zinduka, they soon brought Benard on-staff as an assistant instructor where he has been working helping other PZ students learn carpentry skills for the past 2 years.  Benard begins advanced carpentry training in Mwanza this fall and plans to return as a full instructor at Zinduka VTC upon earning his diploma.  “I am here at Zinduka VTC helping teach carpentry because you all helped me so much that I’ve decided to help others. THANK YOU!”


Mrembo NyasebwaMrembo is one of many children in her extended family. Students with albinism face unique challenges in East Africa due to the effects of the harsh sun on their unpigmented skin and local superstitions surrounding the condition.  Upon hearing about Mrembo’s difficulty with the sun on her long walks to and from school each day, her sponsors sent her a small care package containing a wide-brimmed hat and sun-protective clothing.  Currently a 5thgrader, Mrembo receives a lot of home support for her schooling from her father.  She works hard and it has paid off as she currently ranks 5th in her class of 76 students!


Lucia Warioba VLucia has been a PZ-sponsored student since 2005 where she excelled academically throughout her primary schooling.  In 2009, she was selected to the prestigious Tabora Girls boarding school where she continued to do very well in her studies.  Lucia’s goal is to one day become an engineer.  This year, she scored very highly on the national examinations and qualified to continue on to advanced secondary studies at Ashira High School in Moshi where she’ll be following a challenging Chemistry-Biology-Geography combination.  She holds the distinction of being the only girl from her entire high school to be selected to continue on in this program.  Congratulations, Lucia!


Msafiri SamsonMsafiri, a PZ-sponsored student since 2004, lives with his elderly grandmother.  As a young child, he suffered a severe burn to his face and eye socket in an accident.  As he grew, the burn became increasingly problematic and painful and it interfered greatly with his normal daily activities including his secondary school studies.  Last fall, through a special program hosting visiting specialist doctors at Selian Hospital in Arusha, PZ arranged for Msafiri to receive treatment for the burn and reconstructive surgery to his eye socket.  The procedure and recovery period were somewhat extensive but ultimately very successful.  It has made a huge difference in Msafiri’s health, attitude and outlook on life.  He is repeating his Form 3 year at Salama Secondary school (due to the amount of school missed for his treatment ) and is doing well in his studies.  With plans to become a teacher, we can’t wait to see where Msafiri’s path takes him in the future.


Wakanyi2010Eleven-year-old Wakanyi Mgisi is the youngest of nine girls. Education is very important in the Mgisi family and Wakanyi is dedicated to her studies. She walks five miles to and from school every day. However, it’s a major struggle for her widowed mother to cover the costs of Wakanyi’s schooling. Recognizing this, in 2009 Wakanyi’s community selected her for PROJECTZAWADI sponsorship. The results have been nothing short of amazing!

Wakanyi was an average student scoring near the middle of the pack her first two years in school. Since becoming a PZ student, she’s scored first in her class. Due to her high achievement, the school committee recommended that she skip one level and move right on to the next. Wakanyi’s goal is to continue studying hard in hopes of one day attending university and then being able to give back to vulnerable children like herself.