Village Life Outreach Project Uniting Communities to Promote Life, Health and Education
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Problem: The extreme poverty in the three villages of Burere, Roche and Nyambogo is illustrated by the lack of access to such basic things as clean water, medical care, and education for children. A community cannot pull itself out of poverty when villagers are dying of preventable and treatable illnesses or when children receive little formal education.

Solution: The Village Life Outreach Brigades offer an opportunity to work with local leaders and plan projects that alleviate suffering in the local populations. The mobile field clinics have been vital in helping build relationships with the local peoples and support an environment of trust. The focus is not only on treatment of disease but also on disease prevention. Education at the time of treatment is combined with long term projects that focus on prevention. Projects such as the water filters built by the Life Team and the Mosquito Net Project help prevent recurrence and further spread of common diseases.

Approach: Working in partnership with the village leaders Village Life has identified basic areas that are essential in helping these villages get a step up on the ladder of poverty. Much of the work of planning these projects is done while on the Outreach Brigades in Tanzania, which take place every June and October. Village Life holds mobile field clinics in each of the three villages on multiple days during the October brigade. Approximately one thousand villagers are seen annually and treated for a multitude of diseases. Each villager is given specific education at the time of treatment on disease prevention. Since June 2007 brigade volunteers have also traveled hut to hut performing the Rapid Catch Survey, a tool designed to collect health and basic life data on villagers. The information gathered from these surveys is used to ensure that all Village Life projects address the health and social needs of the villagers. The data is also used as a way of measuring the long term outcomes from the projects implemented by Village Life.


  • To alleviate suffering from infectious and other diseases in the local villages.
  • To offer education on prevention to avoid future disease.
  • To form partnerships with local leaders to identify health and other concerns.
  • To collect health data to measure success in preventing disease.
  • To provide year round care by building the Roche Health Center.

Accomplishments to Date:

  • Decreased rates of water-born illnesses and malaria
  • Each village has formed committees of local leaders to work with VLOP
  • Planning for Roche Health Center is well underway
  • Treatment of approximately 1000 villagers per year during the Outreach Brigades
  • Local Water teams build water filters with locally available materials

How You Can Help: Visit our support page. You can make a general donation that will help to purchase medications for use on our Outreach Brigades and advance the work on our already existing projects. Volunteers are also needed to travel with us on a wide variety of projects. Visit our contact page to request more information on traveling on one of our Outreach Brigades.


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Problem: Village Life Outreach sends trained doctors and nurses to northern Tanzania on brigades twice a year. Other than at these times, most people in the region have no access to healthcare. The establishment of a permanent health center for the region is critical for the future health of the residents of the region.

The challenge of this project involves the lack of power and clean water in the region as well as the limited availability of materials and resources. These challenges are the inspiration behind the development of a Roche Village Community Health Center.

Solution: Under the direction of Assistant Professor and Architect Michael Zaretsky, students, faculty and consultants spent months devoted to developing a clear understanding of the climatic conditions of the three villages, the construction skills and available materials in the region and architectural expectations of the Kamegata people. The design process included a ten-week graduate architecture design studio held in fall 2008 which led to a series of design proposals under consideration for the Roche Village Health Center. One significant outcome was the realization that Roche Village needs more than a health center; they need a community center. The Roche Village Health Center will become the center for community education, commerce and healthcare for the population of Roche and beyond.

Approach: Regionally responsive, culturally appropriate and sustainable design solutions require extensive research. The research methodologies have included extensive climatic analysis using climate and energy modeling tools, on-site assessment of climatic conditions as well as interviews about the successes and failures of existing buildings. There was extensive research of the history of design and construction in this region which led to the development of new opportunities for construction using the existing materials for more durable construction. There were many interviews with the villagers regarding their visions for the health center, for the land and for their community.


  • To assess the needs of healthcare facility needs for the people of this region.
  • To design a project that will achieve the following goals:
    • Become the future hub for the Roche Community.
    • To provide a health center for on-going wellness and health of the people of the region.
    • To provide a facility that will provide opportunities and spaces for healthcare education for local villagers and medical personnel.
    • To provide a building that exemplifies contemporary opportunities for effective construction utilizing local materials and skills.
    • To provide a flexible health center that can expand and adapt as the community develops and expands.
    • To provide a health center that has community support and encouragement. Every member of the community should feel that this health center belongs to them.

Accomplishments to Date:

  • Bioclimatic design analysis of the Mara region.
  • Analysis of the vernacular and contemporary construction traditions in the region.
  • Analysis of the local construction materials and labor skills leading to proposals for new construction techniques for the region.
  • On-site analysis of the site, materials and construction in northern Tanzania.
  • On-site interviews with local villagers regarding their hopes and visions for the health center.
  • On-site interviews with Tanzanian architects and builders.
  • Collaborations with University of Cincinnati School of Engineering and with international Engineering firm, Arup Engineers.
  • Development of Design proposal for community center, health center and doctor and nurse housing.
  • Construction Phase I is completed and outpatient services are ongoing. To see updated pictures and follow along with the progress,please click here


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Problem: In the villages served by Village Life, hunger and malnutrition in children are significant threats to health and education and therefore overall development. Lunch is not provided at the schools and children must walk home, sometimes 2 to 3 miles one way, to get food. Teachers estimate that 10-15% of children enrolled in primary school do not attend on a regular basis due to hunger. Additionally, many students don’t have the necessary energy or focus to concentrate on their schoolwork.

Solution: Village Life initiated a comprehensive Nutrition Project in July 2008 as a way to provide preventive healthcare for 1,200 primary school students. Part of this nutrition project includes a Feeding Program, in which 1,200 students in three primary schools now receive a nutritious lunch to ease their hunger so they may learn.

Approach: The Nutrition Project hinges upon a strong partnership between Village Life, our colleagues in the Tanzanian NGO Shirati Health, Education, and Development Foundation (SHED,) and the villagers. Village Life supplies funding, technical expertise, and planning assistance for the program; SHED assists with on-the-ground coordination, cultural and logistical insight, and the purchase of cooking utensils and food supplies; and the community provides firewood, water, cooking facilities, and preparation and distribution of the food. Other valuable partners are also invested in the project. A grant from the National Science Foundation was used to provide professional development seminars to village teachers to improve their understanding of and ability to teach nutrition lesson plans. Village Life partnered with The University of Cincinnati’s Project STEP (Science and Technology Enhancement Program) to design and perform these seminars. An initial investment of $5000 USD from Christ Cathedral Church, Cincinnati, OH, has provided funding to initiate the Feeding Program.


  • To improve nutritional status and prevent malnutrition.
  • To increase school attendance and test scores.
  • To establish a strong presence in the villages, specifically focusing on preventative care.
  • To enhance educational opportunities for all children.

Accomplishments to Date:

  • The Feeding Program has been successfully expanded to all three primary schools in Roche and presently feeds 1200 children each day.
  • During 2011, Village Life partnered with graduate student Spencer Lucker at the Clinton School of Public Service to evaluate the program. The results show the program continues to be successful.

How You Can Help: The total cost to feed all 1200 primary school children per year equals a daily cost of $0.04 per child. You can provide meals for 6 children a year for only $50. Please visit our Support page to make a donation. As a contributor to the Feeding Program, 100% of your gift will go directly to food expenses and is also 100% tax-deductible.



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Problem: Malaria is a leading cause of death in Africa, second only to HIV/AIDS. In Tanzania, there are approximately 20 million clinical cases of malaria per year, resulting in 100,000 deaths—80% of which are in children under 5 years of age. In Africa, a child dies of malaria every 30 seconds. In addition to illness and death, malaria infections also cause parents to miss days at work leading to lower incomes and children to miss school days and educational opportunities. Additionally, treatment for malaria often requires a trip to the nearest hospital which is nearly a day’s walk away. On the 2005 Village Life Outreach brigade, malaria was identified as the number one health concern by the village leaders.

Solution: Mosquito nets are a cheap and effective way to prevent malaria. Multiple studies have shown that sleeping under an insecticide-treated bednet (ITN) or “mosquito net” can reduce mortality rates by as much as 44%. Village Life found a Tanzanian-based mosquito net factory called A to Z Textiles that was willing to supply mosquito nets to begin distribution in the villages.

Approach: Village Life Outreach raised $12,000 by selling its book Room To Love to purchase 4,000 ITNs in time for the 2006 outreach brigade. An educational program was developed that consisted of two major components: 1) a picture tutorial book and 2) a dramatization performed by the school children, both of which depicted the harms of malaria, the route of transmission, and how ITNs can be used to prevent malaria. The villagers were then able to purchase an ITN for a minimal fee (equivalent to 75 cents/net) and were taught how and when to treat the nets with insecticide. Since the initial distribution of nets in 2006, an additional 3,000 nets have been distributed and ongoing educational programs have been implemented.


  • To raise awareness about malaria and ways to prevent it.
  • To decrease the rates of malaria seen in the Mobile Field Clinics.
  • To establish a strong presence in the villages, specifically focusing on preventative care.
  • To ensure that every household in each of the 3 villages has a mosquito net.

Accomplishments to Date:

  • Since distribution began in 2006, almost 7,000 mosquito nets have been distributed in the 3 partnering villages of Roche, Nyambogo and Burere.
  • The rate of malaria seen in the mobile field clinics has decreased.
  • During 2011, Village Life partnered with graduate student Fernando Cutz at the Clinton School of Public Service to evaluate the program. The results show the program continues to be successful.

How You Can Help: If you would like to support the Mosquito Net Project by purchasing our book Room To Love, please visit our Support page. Every book purchased buys four mosquito nets.



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Problem: One of the primary concerns identified by village leaders in Roche, Nyambogo and Burere is a lack of access to continuing education for children. It is estimated less than 30% of students have the opportunity to attend secondary school. However, the specific cause of this is different in each village. In Roche, there is not sufficient space in the local secondary school and the nearby boarding schools are too expensive. In Nyambogo, students are allowed to attend secondary school in a neighboring village, but it is more than 15 kilometers away and without transportation, or even shoes in many cases, the journey is too arduous for the children. In Burere, the primary school is in disrepair, to the point that some classes have to be held outdoors and are often canceled altogether during the twice-annual rainy seasons.

Solution: Village Life Outreach established the Education Sponsorship Program to address the unique problems facing each village. Through individual donations, funds are raised to sponsor students in Roche to attend boarding school by paying the tuition and boarding fees. In Nyambogo, donations are used to purchase bicycles so that students are able to make the long trip to school. Finally, in Burere preparations are being made to renovate the school building.

Approach: The Roche community recently built a Secondary School to accommodate the area students

In Nyambogo, a donation of $100 provides a bicycle for a student to ride to school. Each donation pays for the cost of the bicycle and all required maintenance. Bicycles are purchased in Shirati, Tanzania in order to help the local economy.

For the primary school renovations needed in Burere, Village Life Outreach is partnering with the University of Cincinnati chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB.) EWB has agreed to take on this project and is beginning initial preparations on the needed renovations.


  • To give every child who desires it an opportunity to continue their education.
  • To break down the barriers of cost and logistics so that deserving students can attend secondary school.

Accomplishments to Date:

  • 14 students in Roche are currently attending secondary school thanks to sponsorships.
  • 20 students in Nyambogo now have bicycles and are using them to ride to secondary school. Students have reported that while they previously had to leave home by 5am to walk to school, they now do not have to leave until 7am. As a result, the school headmaster has reported that attendance rates are up significantly since the students received their bicycles. Additional bicycles will be given to students during 2009 brigades.
  • The University of Cincinnati chapter of Engineers Without Borders has accepted the Burere School Renovations project and has started researching solutions.

How You Can Help: If you would like to make a donation to either sponsor a child in Roche or purchase a bicycle for a student in Nyambogo, please visit the Support page.





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Problem: The average American household consumes approximately 375 gallons of clean water everyday. In Tanzania the average family has access to only 14 gallons of highly polluted water every day for drinking, cooking and washing. Running water and sewage systems are non-existent in the communities served by Village Life, and access to clean water has been overwhelmingly identified by villagers as a top priority. Current water sources are primarily made up of surface water, such as ponds and shallow wells, and are highly polluted with fecal matter and water-borne illnesses.

Solution: Village Life engineers sought out to first establish partnerships with members of the villages. The outcome was the establishment of a Water Committee in each village composed of community members interested in cleaner water. Together, they set forth to develop treatment methods using locally available and affordable materials. To encourage villagers to adopt these techniques, they taught the treatment methods through workshops and a Safe Water Handbook published by University of Cincinnati engineering students.

Approach: Through Community Workshops, villagers learn the relationship between polluted water and water-borne illnesses. They learn how to build, use, and maintain small household size slow sand filter, which rids the water of harmful bacteria and parasites. In order to ensure the effectiveness of these filters, Village Life received a grant from the National Science Foundation to enable two University of Cincinnati engineering students to stay in Shirati, Tanzania and track the health of villagers as they used the filters consistently during a six-month period. In addition to the sand filters, villagers are also taught other methods to treat their water such as using seeds of the Moringa tree to remove dirt and bacteria and using the sun's heat and radiation to kill bacteria through Solar Disinfection.


  • Raise awareness about waterborne illness and ways to prevent it.
  • Teach the village Water Committees how to use available technology to treat their water, reduce illness, and spread the news throughout the region.
  • Place the knowledge in the villagers’ hands so they can continue to develop the tools needed to improve the quality of available water for everyone.

Accomplishments to Date:

  • To date, 250 filters have been constructed in Burere, 156 in Nyambogo, and 54 in Roche.
  • Establishment of a water committee in each village has guided them toward community-wide goals of improved water quality for everyone.
  • Foundation of a water-testing laboratory in the region used to test the effectiveness of filters, judge potential treatment alternatives, and serve as a home-base for in-country research.
  • Outpouring of support between village members, particularly in Burere, where the water committee has created a business model around the filters, and is using the proceeds to provide filters for the less fortunate in their community.
  • Adoption of filters by schools in Nyambogo to provide clean drinking water for the children throughout the day.
  • During 2011, Village Life partnered with graduate student Fernando Cutz at the Clinton School of Public Service to evaluate the program. The results show the program continues to be successful, but adjustments to the filters need to be made as well as improvements to the education efforts for the proper use of slow sand filtration.



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