Summer 2011 Trips

July                         September

Update 1                    Update 1

Update 2

Update 3

Update 4

Update 5

Winter 2010 Trip

Read about the trip and what is going on:

Update 1

Update 2

Update 3


Summer 2010 Trip Starts!

Read about the trip and what is going on:

Update 1

Update 2

Update 3

Update 4

Update 5

Update 6

School Begins!

1/11/2010: A message from Fr. Pat and an update on the interns.




A group of inters is to assist with the school. We hope to hear more from them in the upcoming weeks. We will post their updates and pictures as we receive them.

Headmistress hired!

12/2/2009: We achieved another major, and critical milestone today.  We interviewed and hired a most excellent headmistress for the school!   Mrs. Lucy Shayo has been headmistress at a nearby primary school for the past 10 years and was planning to retire, but the opportunity to create a new school with such a worthy purpose was enough to change her plans.  Mrs. Shayo was this afternoon presented to, and accepted by, the board of directors of the NGO (non-governmental organization) we’ve established under Tanzanian law to manage the school.  Mrs. Shayo will assume overall responsibilities for our school effective immediately.

As planned, we met for advice and consultation at our construction site with the owner and managers of the local Leopard hotel at 9am AST (African Standard Time – which translates to roughly an hour or so later…give or take).  The news was very encouraging.  As the successful managers of an expanding guesthouse in the area, they were very confident that our venture would be successful in earning money to support the ongoing operation of the school.  In fact, they strongly advised us to think bigger as the growing demand for accommodations in the area continues to outstrip supply.  We thanked them for that encouragement, but explained our philosophy of keeping the amount of money spent to an absolute minimum.

We were joined for dinner by Mr. Mike Mosha, the project architect and overall director of construction.  We discussed design choices that would contain costs and speed construction, but not lessen the needed price we will be able to charge for the guestrooms.  Mr. Mosha has been an excellent advisor throughout this endeavor and again helped us with new ideas toward these goals.  He confirmed that we remain on schedule to be able to open the guesthouse in late 2011.  

Progress review

12/1/2009: Mount Kilimanjaro gave us an impressive show of its majesty and beauty this morning.  The mountain is many times shrouded in clouds, but we were blessed with absolutely clear skies all the way to the summit!

A memorable highlight of any visit is the first moment the watoto (children) realize that you are here.  You’ll never witness such total and unmitigated joy as these youngsters express, and express,… and express.  It is absolutely exhausting to endure their gratitude for our project, but a labor we selfishly enjoyed on behalf of all of you.  We saw many smiling familiar faces and many new ones too.

We met with
Regina and Anna, the wonderful teachers who have been doing such a great job of preparing the children this past year and teaching them basic English in preparation for advancement into our now officially sanctioned class one program next month.  We reviewed the list of the 40 orphaned or impoverished children selected to advance and discussed their individual circumstances.  Most of the orphans are fortunate enough to be living with grandparents or aunts and uncles close by.  The remaining children will continue to work with Regina and Anna to be prepared for next year’s incoming class.

After recovering over a cup of chai (tea) from our “welcoming”, we toured the construction site.  The progress is stunning.  We will have to post pictures to the website upon our return for it is hard to describe how impressively the nyumba ya wageni (guesthouse) stands beside the school.  The structure is now complete and the roof in place.  The long (and expensive) interior finishing work is now beginning.  A local successful guesthouse manager and his consultant have graciously agreed to accompany us tomorrow and give us tips and design advice to ensure that our guesthouse will be able to generate the necessary funds to operate the school.  On the encouraging side, we had real trouble booking a room anywhere in the area this week because all of the local guesthouses were full!

Final Approval to Open School

11/30/2009: Jambo from Moshi, Tanzania!  We (Fr. Val Laini, Nathan Partain, and Stan Taylor) arrived in Mailisita on Saturday evening and have been enjoying the African summer heat (80 to 90 degrees) that has greeted us (jealous?)

Sunday morning was a treat as Nathan and Stan attended mass at Mailisita conducted by Fr. Val in the local Swahili language...not entirely sure what he was saying from the pulpit.

The big news so far is that the Tanzanian government
has given its final approval for us to officially open the school and move into our wonderful classroom building.  As you recall, four of the classrooms were completed last year, but the government had not yet given their official blessing and thus sat idle while the children were educated in a relatively dark and cramped room at the nearby parish building.

Fr. Patrick Marunda, Fr. Kawishe’s assistant, deserves our special thanks and appreciation for his outstanding efforts in obtaining the necessary government approvals.  He used his ample powers of personal persuasion and key relationships to convince several layers of government bureaucracy.  His final challenge was to endure a repeat 16 hour round trip bus ride over the rough roads to the capital, Dar es Salam, for final signatures – while all the while suffering from Malaria!  Talk about a trooper!  Fr. Marunda has recovered well and joined us for a celebratory toast the evening of our arrival.

In the coming days we will be meeting with construction workers, existing and prospective school teachers, and local officials to ensure that the school’s official opening, January 10th, 2010, goes smoothly.  But of course the most fun meetings will be with the children themselves.  Sooo much energy and enthusiasm!

Kwa heri for now,

Fr. Val, Nathan, and Stan

Fundraiser at Mickey Finn's

Where and when: Saturday, November 7, 2009 at Mickey Finn's Amber Room in Libertyville, Illinois. The event begins at 6 pm and goes until 10:00 pm. Afterwards, feel free to stay and listen to Mickey Finn's evening band. The cost is $50 per person. Activities will include dinner, a silent auction, and a live aution featuring 3 nights at Disney World's Boardwalk Villa for Casimir Pulaski weekend. For tickets and donations, please see the form here.

Crusader Vision

9/24/2009: Cursader vision, the Holy Cross website highlighs Matt Partain's visit to Mailisita. Click here to see the interview. The video is on the right hand side of the page, scroll down to view his segment.

Great Results!

8/31/2009:  "Mazel tov" to Jeremy Rose and Matt Coleman on their Bar Mitzvahs and for raising nearly $1,000 for the project -- and a garage full of thoughtfully donated school supplies!

Summer 2010 Trip Planning

For the fifth year running, we hope to have a group journey to Africa to work on the project.  If planning to join us in 2010, the key week to be in Tanzania is sometime in July (still planning!).  That will be the week we will plan to do school construction or educational activities with the children. 

Past years' volunteers have enjoyed pre or post trips to safari locations such as the Ngorongoro crater or the Serengeti, climbing Kilimanjaro, or exploring the island of Zanzibar.   Susanne Taylor (847.247.4346) is a great resource for helping with your trip planning.

Summer 2009 Trip Report

For the fourth year running, a group of 13 people made the journey to Africa to work on the project.  Daily blog entries for each day on-site are available here and give you a sense for what kind of work and activities people do while in Tanzania.

Day 1    Day 2    Day 3    Day 4    Day 5    Day 6    Day 7   


February 2009 Trip Report

Nathan Partain and Stan Taylor visited the site in February of 2009.   We drafted reports/blog entries for each day on-site.  Click below to read them.

Day 1    Day 2    Day 3    Day 4    Day 5

2008 Trips

Summer 2008 Trip Report

In July, twenty-five people from Libertyville ranging in ages from 10 – 70 returned from our project to help the AIDS orphans of Mailisita, Tanzania.  The group worked hard on a variety of tasks and made real progress toward our goal of providing an education to these wonderful children living in such difficult circumstances. 

Many of the group, including all of our Libertyville area children who made the journey worked directly with pre-school and kindergarten aged Tanzanian children – teaching them English as well as making them feel very special.  This year we were blessed to have bilingual junior high students from a local private school act as interpreters and cultural liaisons for us and our children.

Under the direction of Mike Mosha, the Moshi diocese architect, the children were tasked with selecting trees and shrubs for the school courtyard, and then doing the planting as well.  It looks beautiful.

Others worked on the construction site.  The first classroom is all set for our first group of 1st graders starting in January.  Even the desks and classroom decorations are in place!  Most of the heavy construction work done by the group this year was on the guesthouse.  Ten tons of blocks were laid by the team as well as carpentry work framing the ground floor columns.  Finishing the Guesthouse quickly is key to the project because when competed it will earn the income needed to pay the teachers and feed the children. 

As a special treat for the children, Libertyville contractor Steve Richards used mostly local materials to fashion a swing set for the kids.  At first the children were puzzled by the foreign contraption, but fortunately we had some experienced “swingers” with us to demonstrate how it’s done.

All of us were struck by the faith, spirit, and warmth of the local people with which we worked and taught.  The people of Tanzania are so very appreciative of what the people of Libertyville are doing for them. 

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