Bariki (center) and Oldonyo Sambu kids, with The Big Truck in the background.

LADIES AND GENTLEMAN:  We have officially started the Build at Oldonyo Sambu!!!! WOOOOHOOOOO!!!!

It is such a huge dream come true! It has been Kasi Kubwa (BIG WORK!) to get this off the ground and in motion. It is hard to believe that just a few months ago, I was sitting in New York, dreaming about this day. It has been an interesting and challenging road for sure, but I have learned so much and am so thankful to have been given this opportunity in my life.

Yesterday, my WONDERFUL project manager Thomas and I loaded up a 5 ton truck and headed out to Oldonyo Sambu…(Ok, we didn’t “actually” load it, but a bunch of really strong guys did, and I took photos, so that counts, right?). As always happens in Africa, things didn’t get off to the quickest start.  But after about 5 stops at various hardware and lumber stores throughout Arusha to pick up supplies, we ambled off to the school, about an hour-long, very bumpy, dusty drive from town. We were in a follow-on car, not in the semi, and I got a few pictures of the dust cloud we traveled under, thanks to being behind the truck.

At the school, we were greeted by teachers, village elders, and some of the kids (who were peeping out of their classrooms with wide eyes). In one classroom, the kids were singing…in another, they were practicing their English (“Good morning, Sir.” “How are you, Sir?” “I am fine, thank you.”), and in another, I think a math session was going on.

When the class bell was rung, the kids swarmed out of the classrooms…and many swarmed around me. Some remembered my name, others learned it for the first time: “Niatwa Heidi.” (I am called Heidi.) For most, it still comes out as Irene…but I’m hoping someday they’ll get it right.

Meanwhile, the guys (including Thomas for about 5 minutes…) started off-loading the supplies and then our contractor Simien and I took account of everything that arrived. Here was our list:

52 ironsheets
132 pieces of 2×2 wood (6 meters long)
80 bags of cement
10 bags of lyme
60 ceiling boards
18 pieces of 2×3 wood  (6 meters long)
24 pieces of triangulated wood trim for ceiling(6 meters long)
16 pieces of  wood trim 1×8 for roofing (6 meters long)
30 pieces of ventilation ductwork
13 pieces of roof edging
4 types of nails (counted, weighed, etc.)
6 empty buckets
Already at the school:
300 concrete bricks (purchased by school, but costs have been reimbursed)
1 load (0f 2) of red sand (provided by  Village and Parents)
1 load (of 3) of gravel/small stone (provided by Village and Parents)

PHEW! What a day! So exciting! Please check out the photos:

Thanks to my generous and loving friends and family, we raised enough donations to START the project…but we still have quite a bit left to do before it is complete. (Phases 2, 3, and 4 are not yet funded!) Every little bit helps (truly, truly!). So, if you would please share this blog with your friends, family, coworkers, classmates, EVERYONE!, it would be much appreciated.

Asante tena! (Thank you, again!)

Hope you are all happy, healthy, and enjoying life!

Heidi Henneman



  1. Kimberly Salome Greenberg


    By bringing your vision to life (through the Big Work, “Kasi Kubwa”), you are empowering so many young people to realize their dreams. Education is the base that will allow them to empower themselves — and their families in many cases — and enrich their communities.

    It is incredible to partake in this journey, and your work reminds us that we should never delay our dreams. Thank you for sharing your progress with us!

    — Kimberly

  2. Laurie Williams

    Hi, Heidi
    I am aware of the organization through Matt and look forward to watching your project move toward completion. My church supports a lot of work in Africa so I am especially thrilled about what you are doing. Educate the women and you will educate the family!

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