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In touch with Tanzania


February 18, 2008

Ryan Skaife and his wife, Laura, brought a group of Marquette University students to Tanzania to participate in community service projects.

France, Australia, Italy ... Tanzania?

Not your typical study abroad list.

But Ryan Skaife is trying to change that.

His first order of business? The Hope in Tanzania Marquette University Chapter, which embarked on a two-week trip to Tanzania from Dec. 27 to Jan. 14.

The 16-hour flight delivered the group to Tanzania, one of the most impoverished countries in the world, where students and volunteers participated in community service projects, such as aiding kindergartens, primary and secondary schools and getting in touch with the local community. The group of 10 students also helped in everyday operations at an orphanage, and spent time at the Sokoine University of Agriculture for college credits.

The goal of the program is, "To do community service projects in Tanzania for two weeks, become connected to the local culture and learn about African government," Skaife says. While in the African country, the group met Mark Green, United States ambassador to the United Republic of Tanzania, and received a personal tour of the embassy. They also met several Tanzanian government officials, such as the Minister of Energy and Minerals and the Minister of Agriculture.

Skaife facilitates the program, and helps students fundraise for the trip. "They have been fundraising all year, working at 24 Bucks games in concessions," he says. Skaife and the students raised $28,000 of the $32,000 necessary for the trip. Final contributions were given by Johnson Controls, Billiards Club of America, Sun Ovens International, The Lynne Broydrick Group, Don Kim, Gil and Lillian Boese, Club Timbuktu, as well as two Tanzanian sponsors.

"Those sponsors really came to the rescue to make sure this trip could happen for us," says Skaife.

Skaife created the program along with his wife, Laura, who is the assistant dean of community service at Marquette. The program culminated out of a trip the Skaifes made around the world, visiting a small farm project in Tanzania. Developing a relationship with farmers Eric and Karen Winson in the town of Mngeta, the Skaifes fostered a direct tie, and self-funded the Hope in Tanzania group on their own in four years.

The program has evolved immensely. In Spring 2007, Laura Skaife was asked to present to students at Marquette about Tanzania, and Ryan Skaife says, "Students were working with a school in Minneapolis, but wanted a direct connection at Marquette or closer." Hence, the Marquette University Chapter was born.

The trip to Tanzania will be an annual trip at Marquette University, working with the Hope in Tanzania program. Its future is promising, as Skaife hopes the program will become semester-long, for-credit program at Marquette. He also hopes to open the program to other university students, creating sister city relationships at other universities around Milwaukee.

For more information about Hope in Tanzania, call (414) 202-8760 or go to


This article was featured in the February 2008 issue of