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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

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

“Max”-imize your Gift by Giving on November 20th!

Max Madoro, Executive Director of Zinduka Development Initiatives Forum - Project Zawadi's community partner organization in Tanzania
Max Madoro, Executive Director of Zinduka Development Initiatives Forum – Project Zawadi’s community partner organization in Tanzania

As a Minnesota-based non-profit, some of our supporters may be surprised to NOT see Project Zawadi participating in this state’s big giving day today.  So why not?  Board member, Jim Hartmann, expressed things well when explaining why he chooses to donate directly to the charitable organization instead.

“Why I WILL NOT be contributing to my favorite causes through Give To The Max Day.  I got my annual email from Give To The Max Day, encouraging me to give on Nov. 13, or to avoid the rush by going to the GTTM site and giving now.

I encourage you all to give to the max – but if you really want to have the MAX effect – give directly to your favorite causes, While GTTM has helped generate enthusiasm, it isn’t exactly clear that a hefty piece of your donation does not go to your selection – it is retained by GTTM which is itself a non-profit.

Nothing wrong with supporting the Give to the Max organization if you want to – but if you want all of your donation to go to the non-profit of your choice – give it directly to them and skip the middle man!”

So what to do?

November 20th is Universal Children’s Day.  The spirit of this day naturally resonates with the mission and purpose of Project Zawadi.   We have adopted it as OUR day of giving and we hope that you will all join us!  Again there is a generous 25% match for all donations and pledges received by midnight on November 20th.

Project Zawadi is encouraging our donors to either directly mail checks to us, or if electronic gifts are preferred to migrate either to Dwolla (an e-check service similar to Paypal but charging only a $0.25 fee per transaction), or Network for Good (if you are international or prefer donating via credit card to utilize Network for Good which gives donors the choice of assuming those processing fees or passing them along to the recipient organization).  Both of those links are available on our website in the  bar on the righthand side at

All donations to the sponsorship or general fund are eligible for the match if you can do one of the following things:

  • Your mailed donation is postmarked by 11/20/2014 (just like when you mail your tax return) – or
  • You have a pending transaction via our on-line giving partner Dwolla (we can see pending gifts even if they don’t clear for a day or two) – or
  • Send an email to and let us know your gift is coming (deadline to receive the pledged gift is Dec. 31) – or
  • Post a pledge on our Facebook or Twitter page (it’s just like emailing us but better because you are spreading the word) – or
  • Or just give us a call at 866-589-6116 (we would love to hear from you)