Students, residents work to aid Tanzania

By Brooke Shinberg

Local residents and students are coming together to help children in Tanzania.

Kurt Thurmaier, board president of Tanzania Development Support, said he and his wife Jeanine started the non-profit organization because of a college friend.

“When I was a graduate student in 1983 I met another student who was a Tanzanian priest and we became friends,” Kurt Thurmaier said. “He was part of our wedding, and for our 25th wedding anniversary he invited us to visit Tanzania with him. They needed so many things.”

The organization was created in 2008 and has already helped build a school dormitory for 160 Tanzanian girls. The organization’s current project is building the Nyegina Library and Community Resource Center. Group members plan to pay for the supplies by an event called Walk for Water, which will be held from 2 to 5 p.m. Thursday in the MLK Commons.

“The idea of the water walk is lots of children, especially girls, are kept from school because they have to walk to get water from a well or a creek multiple times per day,” Thurmaier said. “It is meant to replicate the extreme hardship undertaken by Tanzanian girls. Walkers in this event are asked to complete as many laps as possible while carrying up to five gallons of water.”

This summer there will be a study abroad opportunity for undergraduates and graduate students from any major. These students will travel to Tanzania and learn about different non-government organizations and the library.

“The money raised Thursday will buy the supplies and we will help build the library,” Thurmaier said.

The next project is up to the citizens of Tanzania, Thurmaier said.

“We work on the projects that are the highest priority for the school and the community,” Thurmaier said. “We ask them what they think needs to be done and that’s what we do.”