The Beginning of Something Great

In the summer of 2008, in a small, remote, mountainous village in Western Tanzania on land donated by the community, village leaders built a secondary school out of sticks and thatch for the area orphans. Unlike primary school, secondary school is not free to students in Tanzania, making it cost-prohibitive to any orphans who wish to continue their education beyond the 6th grade level (Standard 7). At first, eighty-four orphans sat in shifts, shoulder-to-shoulder upon benches hewn from logs as they listened intently to lessons taught by local volunteer teachers.

Knowing that they needed help, village leaders approached Orphans Africa and proposed construction of a more permanent school. Impressed with their initiative and passion for helping the orphans, OA agreed to undertake.


Since the Fall of 2008, in coordination with the village leaders of Bujela, OA has made great strides with regards to the Mwaji Secondary School for orphans (65% of the students are girls). OA has built lavatories, a water well, four brick classrooms, a girls’ dormitory with adjacent toilet/shower house, an administration hall, and a teacher’s office. We’ve provided furniture, textbooks, washable feminine hygiene kits, school supplies, a mobile science laboratory, sports equipment and uniforms. OA also hired a headmaster and assists with teachers’ salaries. Mwaji Secondary School was recently gifted thirty additional acres from the community. In November 2013 Mwaji Secondary School officially became a registered school, which will allow for the collection of fees from non-orphans to help pay for the orphans to attend classes for free; these are the necessary steps to becoming a self-sustaining model. Students from this school earned the top scores in their Ward in the 2013 National Examinations. Go Mwaji! By the spring of 2016, Mwaji will also have a on-site, completed science laboratory, the “Donna and Herb McLeod Science Room.” During the 2014 school year, there were two American teachers, Paige Webberley and David MacDonald, who volunteered their year to teach math and science at Mwaji. OA hopes to continue to host teachers in the future to improve the quality of education not only for the students but also to help the teachers learn new, fun activities and techniques.


Development at the Mwaji Secondary School is ongoing. Here is a snapshot of OA’s current development projects:

1. In 2011, OA obtained a $25,000 Tangible Love Grant (TLG) from Community of Christ to build a girls’ dormitory. Located on the new land, construction was completed as of June, 2012. In the Fall of 2012, OA received an additional $12,500 TLG from Community of Christ to construct a toilet/shower house for the girls, as well as a temporary kitchen where they can prepare their meals until such time as the permanent kitchen and dining hall is completed. June 2013, the dormitory was furnished with bunk beds, mattresses, and mosquito nets. It is currently at full capacity, housing 32 girls and a house mother. The dormitory allows these girls to live on campus, providing them with security and a place to call home. More dormitories are planned for the future, including for the boys.

2. In January, 2013, OA helped their field partner to secure a $30,000 grant from the Ambassador at the U.S. Embassy in Tanzania. This $30,000 is already at work, beginning the foundation of the large kitchen, dining, and assembly hall structure, which will cost an estimated $56,000 before its anticipated completion date is summer of 2016. Once finished, this massive structure, measuring approximately 33′ X 98.5′, will not only employ many of the area widows in food preparation services, but will enable OA to provide three meals a day to resident students, and at least one high-calorie meal per day to non-resident students. The school will also be able to rent out the space to community members for celebrations and festivities, allowing them to make a profit and have another source of income besides school fees.

3. In March 2014, OA received a $12,500 grant from the Pendleton-Reid Foundation to build a science laboratory. It will be called the “”Donna and Herb McLeod Science Room” and its estimated completion date is spring 2016. Science laboratories are few and far between in Tanzania and the students are excited to have such a wonderful opportunity to learn and have a hands-on experience in subjects such as biology and chemistry. OA is still in the process of securing donations to furnish the laboratory upon its opening.

4. Because of the additional land grant by the Bujela community, it is now possible to include agriculture as part of the curriculum. Ideally, students will learn sustainable agricultural practices, as well as be able to supplement the school diet with fresh produce. May 2014, three female students and a teacher went to Arusha, Northeast Tanzania, to take part in a two week program to learn about permaculture. Upon their return to Mwaji, they began teaching the other girls that live in the dormitory about permaculture. They have constructed a pig pen and purchased pigs as well as have built a goat house. They have cleared some of the land and now grow vegetables for the girls that live in the dormitory. Sustainable farming is critical in a country where 89% of the population earns their living through farming. Students will learn about erosion, soil health, maximizing yields, and more.


We wish to expand our efforts to include additional classrooms, dormitories and toilet/shower facilities, a library, a headmaster’s cottage, solar energy, a water catchment/cistern system, and a sports field. We will continue to purchase desks and other furnishings, plus textbooks, school supplies and equipment.

It is our goal to position the Mwaji Secondary School as a leader in educational excellence, teaching students through traditional methods as well as through practical application, hands-on experience, and field study.

We endeavor to continue providing teacher training from qualified volunteer visitors.

Mwaji Secondary is poised to raise a generation of leaders who can help their country rise out of its crushing poverty.


All OA schools are operated according to a model of self-sustainability. Meaning, that once the school is fully constructed, operational, and registered with the government, it is capable of supporting itself. OA’s model combines tuition-paying students with fully-dependent orphan students. Tuition received from parents of non-orphan students cover the costs of teachers’ salaries, school operation, plus the room and board of the orphans. Also, by combining non-orphans with orphans, social stigmas and prejudices are reduced as opposed to being reinforced through orphan-only schools.


Click here for a video about an orphan named Rosie and the Mwaji Secondary School.

Click here for a video about Pablo and Monica from Sao Paulo, Brazil; Pablo and Monica volunteered at the Mwaji Secondary School.

Click here to read “Joefrey’s Story.” Joefrey is an orphan who had no hope for a future . . . that is, until he learned about the Mwaji Secondary School.

Click here to view a school site plan developed and drawn for free by the government. The map details the location of all future structures and includes click-able links to all buildings under construction.

Click here to see the same site plan with satellite map.


Orphans Africa (OA) is a 501 (c) 3 tax-exempt charitable organization that began in 2007 with the coming together of three ordinary people whose desire was to build peace between nations by providing assistance to those who are most vulnerable.

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