A Merry Christmas for Karim Orphanage

MERRY CHRISTMAS, HAPPY HOLIDAYS, AND A HUGE THANK YOU to the Karges family — especially young Spencer and Phoebe — and their friends Mia and Lily. These awesome kids took the initiative to raise money for Karim Orphanage by selling water on their front lawn in Florida. We thank them not only for being inspirational and really cool for taking time out of their normal lives to raise money for children they barely know on this side of the world — but  more importantly for sending their LOVE to the Kids of Karim.

With their generous donation, we were able to buy 2 bikes for the kids, 4 pairs of BRAND NEW! shoes, and some special treats for them for Christmas — hotdogs, popcorn and candy! (Who knew they loved hotdogs so much?!!)

They are truly feeling the love of this holiday season — and having some serious FUN! —  so again thank you, thank you, thank you for the wonderful contribution.

Here are some videos of the kids riding their new bikes (and surprisingly taking turns!) and trying on shoes, as well as some additional photos, including shopping for treats (hot dogs!) with Mama Rehema.

Videos attached at the below links (please note the links will expire soon, so if you would like me to resend, please message me:





Thank you all for your continued support of the projects we are doing on this side of the world. More updates will follow on all of the projects as soon as I have more news to share! I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous New Year!

With love from Tanzania,


Heidi Henneman
Jenga Jumuiya
blogsite: https://hlhnyc.wordpress.com

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On the Ground (Again) in TZ — Project Updates and More!

I’ve been here just one week and projects are already starting to get off the ground! Yesterday, I “accidentally” met with the Village Elder who I’ve been working with on the Monduli School Project. We had been trying to connect, but hadn’t made it happen yet…and there he was in the coffee shop when I went in to grab a quick chai. I remember for the last project in Oldonyo Sambu, I had a similar “accidental” meeting on the side of the road with the Village Chairman. Sometimes you just can’t plan for these things…they just happen. (Village Elder Mr. Loshiro on the right in the photo below)


So here’s where we stand on the current, past, and upcoming projects:


Mr. Loshiro (the Village Elder) and I had a long chat about the project and the information I am needing to put the proper project brief together. As of now we are hoping to building a Nursery and Primary School, followed by a Secondary School in a remote area of the Monduli region outside of Arusha. We received word a few weeks ago that the various villages who would benefit from this school have met and agreed together to donate a large parcel of land for this purpose. We couldn’t be more thrilled! We are now working on getting the exact coordinates of the land, finalizing government approvals to ensure longevity of the bequest, and sorting out technical issues, such as water availability. I am hoping that our next big meeting with the various Village Elders will involve a circle of gentle old men swathed in Maasai shukas, some singing children, and some sort of a feast to celebrate. That’s my hope anyway…

Here’s a photo of the existing Nursery School (there is currently no Primary or Secondary School within 10km of the area).


In the meantime, our wonderful engineer in Montana has been anxiously awaiting some initial information regarding the land and our specific requirements for the school, so that he can start drawing up the plans — so I am thrilled that we are finally pulling the pieces together. Once the project brief is complete, I will start serious fundraising for this project and begin the grant application process. If you happen to know of any organizations that fund international grants for school building, educational supplies, teacher’s training, well-drilling, or any activity that could possibly help us in this regard, please let me know! I will also be setting up an online donation site for this project (in addition to the current PayPal link) to help gain momentum on the fundraising. This is a large-scale and long-term project so if there is any way you or anyone you know can help move this along, we would be very grateful. Ideally we are hoping to break ground next August for this project.


Not much to report yet on this one, other than that I am meeting with my Project Manager this week to go over details for the build. We are hoping to get a new classroom into the construction phase by late January/early February, if we can raise the funds. I have set up a Fundly site for this project (as mentioned in my previous blog). www.fundly.com/jenga-jumuiya-school-building-fund I had misstated the funding goal initially, but have adjusted it. We are looking for roughly $14,000 USD to complete the construction of this classroom. Again, if you know of any organizations, groups, or corporations that would be interested in funding this type of project, please let me know! Every little bit helps, so please spread the word!


We are partnering with One World Safari Tours/One World Foundation Center on this to help bring in volunteers to paint and refurbish the existing classrooms at Oldonyo Sambu Primary School. The classrooms are in pretty bad shape aesthetically, so we’re hoping to fix floors, hang ceiling tiles, and paint, paint, paint so that the students have a welcoming place to learn. If you or anyone you know would like to physically help with this project (and also go on safari or climb Kilimanjaro while you’re here!), please email me separately and we can sort out the details! We are looking for volunteers from now through early March — and then again from June through August/September next year. This will be an on-going project, so ANYTIME you or anyone you know would like to come over, please let me know! We can always use the help!


We are in the final rounds of grant approvals on this one, so fingers crossed! We hope to have an official update on this in the next few weeks!!!


We have the funding in hand for supporting our 3 current sponsor students for next year’s school year. In addition, we recently received funding from an amazing high school student group in Rockport, MA who will be supporting 1-2 students at Oldonyo Sambu Secondary School. We are hoping to name the recipients of these sponsorships by end of December or early January. Thank you again, Rockport Interact Club!  I will be meeting with our current sponsor students (and their teachers!) in the next couple of weeks and will report back on how they have been doing in their studies. Stay tuned!


This one took a long time, but as of March 2013 we can officially report that our 2010 “Kidogo Project” (Little Project) at Mavinuni Primary School has been completed. For this project, we had donated the iron sheets and nails for roofing of a classroom that had been under construction at that time. The Project Manager for this project had been killed in a car accident in 2012, but his mother, the inimitable Mama Gladness had taken over the project and moved it forward “kidogo kidogo” (little by little). We are happy to now be able to include this among our “completed” projects. Asante tena, Mama Gladness!


Speaking of Mama Gladness — one of my favorite people on this earth! — she recently approached me about helping her through the next phase of planning for a school that she would like to build for special-needs and orphaned children in Tengeru (about 12KM outside of Arusha). We have not fully vetted this project yet, but it is something we are thinking about putting on our list. Mama Gladness has already had the initial plans drawn for the school, but she needs funding for official engineering drawings, and I am sure she will need the preparation of a project brief and much more to get this one off the ground. Again, I’m not putting it on our TO-DO list just yet, but if anyone has heard of funding outlets (grants, etc.) for Special-Needs Schools, please let me know!

That’s all to report for now, other than that Tanzania is beautiful this time of year — so if you were ever thinking of coming to visit and see our projects, go on Safari or climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, now would be a GREAT time to come. I will be here through early March, and would love to welcome you to Tanzania!

Asante sana na Ashe Nale!


Big News — New Projects! New Locations! New Schools!

Lots of exciting things going on in the Jenga Jumuiya world! Thanks to support and encouragement from friends and family, I’ve left my position at Estee Lauder (again!) to focus more on our projects in Tanzania. From this Saturday, I intend to spend roughly 4 months in TZ getting a few new BIG projects underway.

We are focusing on 3 schools at this moment: Oldonyo Sambu Primary School (where we built two classrooms and a teacher’s office in 2010), Lohada (an orphanage and school for street children), and a brand new project near the Maasai village of Monduli.

At Oldonyo Sambu, we are hoping to build a brand new classroom to help alleviate the over-populated classrooms. The school hosts upwards of 1100 children in 9 classrooms. They were at 7 in 2010, but thanks to our generous donors, we have helped alleviate a little bit of that overpopulation — and now we are trying to help even more! — kidogo, kidogo (little by little).  I have set up a Fundly site for this project (http://fundly.com/jenga-jumuiya-school-building-fund) in the hopes we can break ground early next year (February) or sometime next summer. We are also planning to renovate several of the older classrooms with the help of our partner One World Safari Tours who will be bringing in volunteers to help with some of the renovations.

At Lohada, we are planning to build more beds/cots for the girls dorm to provide a safe haven for even more young orphan girls. These are teen and pre-teen girls, currently living on the streets or in at-risk situations, and we are extremely excited to be able to provide them a clean, safe place to stay so that they can get the education they so desperately want and need.

Near Monduli, we are working on building a brand new school for a community that currently has none. The children walk a minimum of 10K to get to school in the neighboring community. We are hoping to build a primary and, ultimately, a secondary school for the area. The village elders of several adjoining villages have generously offered us a large piece of land to use for this incredible project. We are in the planning stages at this point, but watch this space for exciting updates as we move forward into the planning, sourcing, and design phases of this project. It’s going to be a BIG one!

Throughout all of these great and exciting projects, we are still supporting 3 amazing students in the Arusha area — Gifte, who’s just finished Form 3 of Secondary school; Joyce, who is entering Secondary School next year; and Loisolu, who is in Grade 4 of Primary school.

We couldn’t be more excited to get some big projects started for Jenga Jumuiya and the communities, families and children we serve.

Thank you to all of our donors, friends, partners, and supporters. We couldn’t do all of this without you!

Asante Sana na Ashe Nale!


Happy Birthday to Us!

Happy Birthday to Jenga Jumuiya! — Two years ago, we officially founded this organization: 2 classrooms, 1 teacher’s office, loads of school supplies, 3 sponsored kids, and a ton of books later, here we are. Hoping to have some new projects in the works very soon! Stay tuned!

An Update from Africa

Just back from a wonderful visit to Tanzania. It had been about 6 months since my last trip. This time, I went with my sister Brianna in tow. We visited our sponsor kids, distributed donations to our school, and dropped by to see the families of our sponsored students. Brianna took a few moments to write down some of our experiences. Here’s the view from her eyes. Enjoy!:

Jenga Jumuiya
by Brianna Bruckner

The experience with Jenga Jumuiya is something that is not easily put into words…
When someone thinks of Africa, in this case Tanzania, they think of the animals and the wonderful safaris — but the people are what make the place so much more than a neat zoo.

We did many things for Jenga Jumuiya on our two-week trip to Arusha, Tanzania. We donated 50 pounds of books to one of the top schools in the area. This school is where Gifty, one of our sponsor students attends. She was in great spirits and very grateful for the new clothes we bought for her. She is doing excellent in school both academically and socially. Everyone is so proud of her!

Our next stop on this trip was to the Oldonyo Sambu Primary School where Jenga Jumuiya had previously donated and built two new classrooms and offices for its growing number of teachers and students. The school is holding up well, especially for being in the middle of a dusty plain in Africa! We were there right when the students were let out to go home…it was like being in any school yard when the last bell rings. Kids were everywhere! Of course, staring at us like we were something at the zoo. It’s not everyday that the school has visitors – especially westerners, but they clearly have appreciated the work Jenga Jumuiya has done. We donated a box of school supplies while we were there, too. But the most touching experience with Jenga Jumuiya came next…

We found Joyce among all the kids! Joyce is another one of the students Jenga Jumuiya sponsors. We asked if we could take Joyce with us because we were going to her house anyway to drop off some donations. She jumped right into the Range Rover. We found out on the ride that Joyce had never ridden in a car before! Most people can’t remember their first time in a car, but I’m pretty sure Joyce will never forget hers! Once at the house, Joyce’s mom was so grateful for all of the new clothes we bought for her children and also for the sugar, tea, and other basic supplies. She welcomed us in to her boma and gave us hugs and truly seemed happy to see us. Joyce’s brother didn’t want to miss out on any of the action either…once he saw that there were visitors at his house, he started running home from school. We could see him coming from almost half a mile away, running across the fields waving at us.

That day we also donated some clothes and basic cooking supplies to another family in the area, and took turns holding their newborn baby. To top off our exciting day we gave a little boy his first ride in a car as well — this time it was into the town so he could sell some eggs for his family. The ride was really bumpy – and he had to hold them tightly!

Jenga Jumuiya is doing a great job working with the people of Tanzania. The thing that makes Jenga Jumuiya different from other non-profits is that it doesn’t merely help or give — it works with the community to understand their needs and the best way to work together.

What’s next for Jenga Jumuiya? We are currently looking for another major building project. We visited a couple of new school sites on this trip and are continuing to look for more. We will also continue our current support to the schools and the students that we are sponsoring.


Thanks, Brianna!

I’ll be updating everyone with our newest endeavors once we have project plans approved and in place.

As always, thank you again and again for your continued support to Jenga Jumuiya, our sponsored students, and our school projects!

Thanks for reading!


It’s Been Quite a Year — Let’s Make It Even Better!

Dear Friends of Jenga Jumuiya,

Thank you for your support and well wishes this past year. It has indeed been quite a year!

Just over a year ago (October 4, 2010 to be exact), we officially started the build at Oldonyo Sambu Primary School. At at this time last year, we were in the midst of our Kasi Kubwa (Big Work!) Project. The two classrooms and teacher’s office that we built last year are gorgeous and have been used continuously since our construction — with afterschool groups using our rooms as meeting places (since we are the only classrooms with electric lights!)

In a few short weeks, I will be returning to Tanzania to visit the school and determine what additional assistance they may need in the coming year. I plan to take lots of photos and post them for you all. I’m so excited to finally see these classrooms in use!

In the meantime, I am again raising funds for education in Tanzania. My focus in the coming months will be to raise enough money to support our three outstanding students: Joyce and Loisolo in primary school and Gifte in secondary school. If you would like to contribute to the education of these awesome kids, please click the HOW YOU CAN HELP section at the right or the DONATE NOW tab above. (Or contact me directly at the email or number below.)

Thank you again for your incredible monetary and emotional support as I continue this amazing journey of bringing education to the much-deserving children of rural Tanzania.

Please feel free to share this blog and information about Jenga Jumuiya with your friends and family. The more you share, the more we can help these incredible children.

Asante sana (Thank you in Swahili) na Ashe Nale (Thank you in Maasai).

All the best to you and yours,

Heidi Henneman
Jenga Jumuiya
Tel: +1.646.373.9084

New School Year Coming Soon!

It’s almost that time again — a new school year starts in January! As you may know, we have 3 great students under our care, two in primary school (Joyce and Loisolo) and one in secondary school (Gifte). I’ll be returning to Arusha, Tanzania, in November to check in with our students and make sure they have the uniforms, school supplies, and school fees they need to start their new year.

While there, I’m also planning to visit the Oldonyo Sambu Primary School to see how our classrooms are working out for the students and teachers. My hope is that I’ll be able to meet with the District board as well to better understand their needs and plans for the coming year. If all goes well, I hope to take a group of volunteers with me next year to do a little work at the school, perhaps go on safari and/or climb Kilimanjaro, and possibly participate in a local community event while we are all there. I am currently working on putting this package together, so if you or anyone you know might be interested in joining me on this excursion, please let me know.

In the meantime, if you would like to help support our students, monetary donations are greatly appreciated. Please see the HOW YOU CAN HELP link above for details on how to donate.

Thank you for your continued interest in Jenga Jumuiya!

All the best to you and yours.

Heidi Henneman
Jenga Jumuiya