Monday, March 1, 2021

Smiles for days!

It is so great being back in Tanzania! Every day I wake up grateful to be here. Each year we try to hold a gathering for the children in the Rudisha Foundation, it really comes down to the donations we receive on a yearly basis. 

A favourite place for the party is the Uhuru Lutheran Hostel in Moshi. They have a nice play area which the children always enjoy and offer a nice setting for lunch. This year the children were so excited to see some new additions to the play area - a bouncy castle and the highlight was the pool and water slide! It was the first time for them to play in the water. They are still thanking us for the day. I'm sure it is something they will never forget. I have put together this short video and as you will see there was smiles and giggles all around. 

Here is the link if you want to watch the video in full screen

So many thanks to those who made this special day possible. Without your support we could not make this happen. 

The above picture (from many years ago) popped up a couple days ago as I was organizing my foundation photos, so I wanted to share that we still keep in touch with both students, Nancy and Joel. Joel stopped in to visit my mother-in-law, Martha, during his Christmas break from college. You can see he's not so little anymore! Joel recently passed his program to become a safari driver/guide, now he's working on getting his drivers license. He and Mama enjoyed a game of scrabble, I never did ask who won. 😛

His older sister, Nancy, is studying Business Administration in Marketing and Public Relations at Dodoma College of Business Education, she was also visiting Moshi a few days ago. Nancy and Mama went to the Kilimanjaro Marathon to support their fellow Tanzanians. You can see the peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro in the backdrop! What a fine young lady Nancy has turned into. I'm so proud of them both for chasing their dreams and I enjoy keeping in touch with them on social media. Best of luck to you both as you continue your education and move into the work force. 

Helping one person may not change the whole world, but it could help change the world for one person - Unknown

Monday, November 2, 2020

Rudisha Foundation's Water Project

"Somewhere along the way, we must learn that there is nothing greater than to do something for others." - Martin Luther King

The Rudisha Foundation has two main goals; to support the children in the foundation, by covering school fee costs & to help schools that require assistance in improving their services to the children. All of the school projects to date would not be possible without support from Elmwood Brant St.John's & St. Peter's Lutheran Parishes. We are most grateful for their continued support and a constant message from the teachers, children and their families is - Mungu awabariki nyote - which translates to "god blesses you all". 

We will soon sit down and chart out the next school projects to work on, but before doing so I wanted to share the great work that was done earlier this year at Mtakuja School. My mother-in-law and co-founder of the foundation, Martha, manages and oversees the projects so it's fitting that I share the emails she sends to me for this blog. 

If you are wondering how you can help support this cause I would be happy to discuss with you. Please send an email to for any questions 😀

"Every time I go the kids just swarm the gari (truck) knowing I like to swing! 
They are so grateful for those swings!" We were fixing the original swing set that day and even the fundis (workers) wanted to swing. 

Martha (Mama Msuya) & Riziki, the headmaster of Mtakuja school

"There is more happiness in giving than in receiving." Acts 20:35

"Finally we could get started January 5th at Mtajuka School. My head fundi, Jakobu (head bldg. manager) lines up the fundis, buys the materials and holds the money once we agree on each estimate. He and the fundi travelled down that terrible washed out road, 17 kms with flooded Bajaj's (tuk tuks) to look at what needed to be done. He said the road was so flooded with motorcycles slipping & falling. It would take three stages and three estimates with several days labour and travel to complete. He would have to purchase; connectors, pipes, elbows, sockets, nipples, seals valves. He read them 'Maji Installation in Washrooms & Hand Washing' - they understood what needed to be done".

"First step was digging the trenches to each of the 14 toilet rooms, also a trench from the huge water tank, laying of the pipes and connecting them. A track in the cement wall of each toilet room for the pipe leading to the tap, this had to be pounded out. The head fundi brings along his two helpers, the meals and sleeping arrangements are on him. Jakobu’s sister Gertrude, who lives near Mtakuja school, volunteered her extra room for sleeping quarters for the fundis. Thanks to Gertrud! There’s no motel in Mtakuja, ha ha!! Just baobab trees, ditches lined with thorns and small buildings & goats walking ahead of you on the road, as you try to drive around the potholes, slowly. No water yet!"

"The second stage, estimate written on Jan 21st had more elbows, sockets, valves & seals, to build the long sink outside, a distance from the toilets. This was going to take 100 cement bricks, 4 bags cement & wire etc. plus three days’ work!"

"It had to be built high enough off the ground so the Maasai cattle wouldn’t be able to drink water from it – so the headmistress told the fundis. There’s no fence around this school yet and on weekends the herders/shepherds bring in their cattle – this is very disturbing to Riziki, the headmistress of the school who unsuccessfully tries to plant flowers and greenery outside the classrooms. The cattle strip the flowers in no time at all! Still no running water - the cement has to dry properly first!”

Third step was connecting & installing the six hand washing taps in the long sink and open the main water supply. Running water, finally!

 "The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others" - Gandhi 

"Today Jakobu took these pails down to the Mtakuja school for the washrooms, some are used paint pails. I bought ten one litre for the smaller kids, that’s the size they wanted. The toilet taps are no good without a container to rinse down what you left, heh??? Riziki says that her "environment" teacher will show the kids what to do and how to 'flush' with the pails." 

"Truly great people in history never wanted to be great for themselves. All they wanted was the chance to do good for others and be close to God." - Muhammed Ali

Monday, October 26, 2020

Travelling to Tanzania during COVID-19

As an International Travel Specialist and ambassador of travel, I made the leap to return to Tanzania for a couple months with my husband, Moses. Tanzania has been open to tourism since mid-July 2020 and being a country in which I specialize, I wanted to experience first hand the travel changes in place for COVID-19.  

I booked our tickets with KLM and we departed from Pearson International Airport in Toronto, Ontario on October 14, 2020. Policies are constantly changing these days but we were required to have a negative Covid-19 test for boarding. Since arriving, the policy has changed, a PCR test is no longer required if travelling with KLM  from Canada to Tanzania (unless you have a medical condition and are unable to wear a mask - in this case a doctors note is required and a negative PCR test result must be shown at check-in and in Amsterdam, results must be valid 72 hours prior to travel). 

Getting ready to board in Toronto, I said to Moses, “it feels like pre-Covid travel, but everyone is wearing a mask.” Extra safety precautions and additional procedures (temperature checks, Covid-19 screening questionnaires and limited contact with the flight attendants) were taken every step of the way, which made us feel very safe. I was pleased to see the airlines implementing these changes so efficiently. We were still served one plated meal on each flight and were each given a bag with snacks and drinks for the remainder of the flight. There were very few people on the plane to Amsterdam from Toronto which was great for a long sleep. From Amsterdam to Tanzania the plane was over half full. 

From Safaris, Mountain trekking to Beach Holidays I customize complete packages for Tanzania - and other nearby countries like Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda, should one wish!  A positive thing about travelling during this time is that tourism is low, so it’s not crowded in the National Parks or at the beach resorts. With so much culture to see in Tanzania you can really take advantage at this time.

Our trip ran smoothly from check-in, customs, boarding and throughout the flights. We had a 4.5 hr layover in Amsterdam so we decided to get a room at YotelAir, to rest and freshen up with a nice shower. It cost 55Euros for a single room for 4 hours or 80Euros for a double room. We managed just fine in the single and felt we had enough room for a short nap.

We arrived Kilimanjaro Airport at 8:15pm on the October 15. As I stepped off the plane the warm breeze swept across my face, all my stress disappeared. Social distancing was in place in the customs area and one by one we had our temperatures checked, presented our health screening form, purchased our tourist visas (you can also get an eVisa prior to departure), grabbed our luggage and were on our way to meet our driver. Greeted with the regular happy faces of Tanzanians saying “Karibu sana Tanzania!” (Welcome to Tanzania).

For the full screen video please visit my YouTube Travel Channel

If you have any questions or would like to speak with me about booking a trip to Tanzania, please send me an email at  - it's my pleasure to design a custom itinerary for you! 

Monday, August 3, 2020

Rudisha Foundation Party - Zipline & Trampoline!

This past December we held the Rudisha Foundation Party for the 2019 school year, to celebrate another successful year in school. All of the children did very well with their grades and have moved into the next grade. Many of them placed in the top 10 in their class! We're very proud of their hard work and commitment to learning and we're also SO grateful to the sponsors for providing them the chance to attend school. Without the support many of them would not be where they are today. As you can see from the annual group photo the children are healthy and strong and growing quickly!

The party was held at the Lutheran Uhuru Hotel in Moshi. The children are familiar with this place as we held our gathering here a previous year.  

They were not expecting new additions to the playground area (small zip-line and trampoline), this was a super treat and lots of fun for all! After a nice big meal together they played on the equipment then had their annual photos (in their Sunday best and in school uniforms) which we send to sponsors and post online to their photo album.

Even a few of the parents tried the small zip-line for the first time 😀. 

Before heading home the children received a gift bag with candies and popcorn, toothbrush and toothpaste, pen & pencils and English books, which were brought over from Ontario, Canada by a family member who was visiting Martha. Big thanks to Jenny for bringing the books, for running around getting some other goodies for the gift bags, playing with the children and for helping with the photos at the party! 

As always I am so grateful that we were able to provide this experience for the children and I'm sure they are as equally grateful! I miss hearing their giggles but love to see their big smiles! Hopefully one day soon I'll be able to see them again in Tanzania!

To learn more about how you can get involved reach out to Amanda - there are many ways to help support the Rudisha Foundation. Perhaps you are looking for a truly eye opening experience? Travel to Tanzania to visit the schools of the children you sponsor or have one of them join you on safari - they would love to see you! 

My blog could never be complete without thanking Mama (Martha Msuya) for arranging everything for the party! Asante sana Mama!  

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Rudisha Foundation is Swinging into 2019

What happy faces, big smiles and laughter these new swings have brought to a school yard which only a month ago stood bare and lacked fun filled recesses. Let me rewind back and explain how this all came to be. 

In July 2018 my mother-in-law, Martha (Mama) and I went to the the St. John's Lutheran Church in Elmwood, Ontario to give updates on our childrens foundation, Rudisha Foundation. The churches (St. John's and St. Peter's Lutheran Parishes) sponsor two children in the program and as a thank you to the church and the members we like to visit and give updates on how the children are doing, show them new pictures of the children and their school work.

At the end of the presentation a member of the congregation asked how the schools that our students attend compare to schools in North America. I explained there are big differences in that many of the government run schools are not well equipped with text books and teaching materials, the school grounds are very bare as are the classrooms. We showed a few pictures from previous school visits at the different schools and I guess it "hit home" just how fortunate our Canadian children are to be attending such well equipped schools. 

The St. John's and St. Peter's Lutheran Parishes were so generous to give extra funds to Rudisha Foundation for the 2019 school year, to help with a school project. I write this blog as a thank you to the church and to explain the progress of these fantastic additions for a school in need.  

When Mama returned to Moshi for the winter we discussed which school was in the most need and possible ways we could help provide happiness and smiles for many children and teachers.  

It was decided that the funds would be donated to Shule ya Msingi Mtakuja, the school that one of our youngest children (Sarah) attends. Mama and Jakobu (Sarah's dad) arrived at the school to see Sarah with her big smile. They met with the headmistress, Riziki and went over the different areas that need updating and where the funds would be able to help the most. They discussed ideas and talked about who they would contact to start getting estimates for the projects, etc. As I am in Myanmar for the winter Mama and I had many emails back and forth. I will share a bit of "background" of the first ideas and the emails Mama sent to me...

Driving down that rough road you see rice fields flooded with water, people working in the fields. Talk about a rough corrugated road!!! Sometimes traffic drives in the ditch, sometimes smack dab on the very center top of the road.  Bumping along at 20 mph is just about the fastest you can go. The buses and piki piki’s (motorcycles) go a bit faster than Mbung’o (the nickname for her truck). We go through several small towns in the district of Mabugini and several large church compounds with schools on the premises too. Many Children in uniform are walking as we drive along. I heard that a lady District officer recently travelled this road to open and cut the ribbon for a project - - and came back into town saying "that road just MUST get paved"!! 

The railroad track is seen all the way down to the first corner where we turned right. Piki piki's are perched at all corners, also fruit stands. The railroad can’t be used until the track gets fixed. The track has been badly eroded in places! Just the jigger could go on that track, but people walk on it like we would walk on a sidewalk.
Now we come to the flat rice fields flooded with water and irrigation ditches around the field. Finally we reach the town of Chekereni .The 17 kms down here where we are going, to Mtakuja Shule is dusty in dry season, and nearly impassible in rainy season, so I’m told. The mud is slippery!
We nearly pass the school, not recognizing it. Kids are standing around in the dust of the yard. I park the truck and out walks Riziki, the Headmistress. She recognizes Jakobu because Sarah goes to school here. After the introductions we go into her office, I place the letter I brought on her desk and we read it together "Projects of improving the school or updating what’s here". 

Riziki has more to add to my list, she shows us the bathrooms behind the classrooms, the dug well where water is the best around – they sell this water to the locals. She explains that kids skip out of school behind the tree line or come to class an hour or two late because there is no fence! This is a problem! They need a tall wire fence.  
The standard three class was playing with one ball, it looked like soccer, but there is another game that needs reviving – something with nets. It could be used and brought in to safely every night.  

The bathrooms are ok except there are no taps next to the toilet. Outside is one huge black water tank with a cemented table for washing hands, but the circular tap isn’t there since the kids "play" with the water and "waste it”. They could really use sensor taps here. Kids can’t wash their hands after using the toilet - another project.  The school has approx. 398 pupils and 7 teachers. 
We (Jakobu, Riziki and I) picked three projects to get estimates for. First we need all the estimates from the fundis (construction workers/repairmen) to see if the money is enough. Riziki says there used to be a mlinzi (watchman) at the school, not anymore – no money to pay him.
# 1  -  The broken down platform surrounding the classrooms is dirt and mud in rainy season, hundreds of shoes are pure mud dragged into the classroom. This project takes stones, sand, cement and labour costs for the fundis. We will need one large truckload of stones and some loads of sand.  We think to do the right side platform first …  the left side also to be done, some day.

# 2 - There is no school bell! What is being used are two broken railway ties laying on the dust under a tree. I would like to see a real bell mounted on a post.

Riziki holding the "school bell"

# 3 - Swing sets! The frame is there and it's cemented in nice and sturdy, but no chains nor seats - no action here at all! There is a playground equipment business in town, so Riziki agreed to have an estimate done to install a second set of swings and repair the existing one. She says the kids would line up and take turns swinging with a teacher to supervise during recess.

Mama didn't mess around with getting started on the projects and before I knew it the fundis (carpenters, cementers, welders - basically any person preforming a trade) were starting on project # 1 - The platform - updates from Mama - "Big day down at Mtakuja school. The rocks all cut and levelled, ready for cementing tomorrow. I met the fundis; Rashidi, Omari and Joefrey. They needed another full load of special white fine sand to finish the smooth top. They expect to be done by Thursday".

Stone were laid first

"Desks were all outside where I parked because no walking allowed in and out of classrooms during cementing. They were huddled around one tattered book!"

The finished platform, where the children will be able to remove their shoes before going into the class when it rains and their shoes will stay clean

# 2 - The new school bell - updates from Mama - "Risiki wants a bell like all the other schools are using. It's a tire rim which they'll get at a scrap yard, and then they use a piece of steel to bang against the rim. One gong means a certain class goes in, two gongs mean another class etc. It will be mounted at eye level rather than hanging on the side of the tree or laying on the ground like most schools. A "church" bell isn't practical for these schools as classes go in and out at different times. Riziki and I will talk about bell expense once swings are complete. It will need a solid frame cemented into the ground. They are having teachers meeting with parents and being told that the government will finance the askari (watchman) to guard the new equipment, especially since there's no wall around the school."

Freshly painted tire rim for the "bell" 
Mama and Jakobu deliver the bell to school - frame is mounted on top of Mama's truck
Mama digging holes for bell frame 
Mama and Jakobu installing the frame 

Completed bell!
# 3 - Swings - updates from Mama - "Boy the 17kms on that bad road on the way to the school -  we came to a 5 km section and I thought we'd get stuck!! The road is under construction, mounds of stony gravel, water being sprayed, ruts etc. but Mbungo' (her truck) got us past it all and onto Sarah's school.  Jakobu in the passenger seat picking out the smoothest spots to drive on in the road! We got to see the brand new cemented floor/shelter for when it rains for these 398 kids. Now we are working on the construction of swings! Holes are being dug and fundi is collecting supplies for welding the steel posts. Can't wait to see it completed and get pictures of the six children swinging at the same time. I want a swing ride too!"

Installing the new swing set 
Wondering when they can test out the swings?! 
Just can't wait for the first turn on the swings - even though they aren't fully cemented in
Cementing the swing frames 

Cementing is complete and last step is to shorten the chains
Mama checking on the progress - chains have been adjusted

We want to thank the St. John's and St. Peter's Lutheran Parishes for the donation to Rudisha Foundation which sparked all of this great work. While we went over budget by about $350 Canadian dollars it was such an accomplishment to get these three projects completed. I wish I could be in Moshi, Tanzania right now to join the children taking turns and pushing each other on the swings! 

I also want to personally thank Mama for all her hard work on these projects! The many trips back and forth the "bad road" in Mbung'o and the many hours she spent helping with the work. As you can see from the pictures she's not afraid of manual labour and is always ready to jump right in and lend a helping hand, no matter the task! Also, thanks to Jakobu for his time and work as well - he was Mama's "right hand man" in getting these projects completed! 

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act - Proverbs 3:27

Waiting their turn :) 

I have found that among other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver - Maya Angelou

To help the Rudisha Foundation continue to make a difference in the lives of children in Moshi you can contact Amanda at