Sister Susana Bosuh of the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of
Africa, director of the Salome Learning
Center in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, greets
East Longmeadow resident Richard Pelland
during a 2008 fact-finding trip. Pelland is
founder and president of Project Tanzania
Partnership Inc., which recently received
its nonprofit status.
By Lori Szepelak
The Reminder Online
It's a half a world away but the people of Tanzania
are close to the heart for many individuals in
With the recent establishment of
a new nonprofit corporation, Project Tanzania
Partnership Inc., the sky's now the limit in terms
of how individuals and organizations can make a
difference in the lives of others.
During a recent interview with
East Longmeadow resident Richard Pelland, founder
and president of Project Tanzania Partnership Inc.,
he spoke passionately about the needs in villages,
hospitals and learning centers across the country,
and how the new nonprofit hopes to inspire others to
offer their time and skills to make a difference in
the lives of children and adults. Pelland is joined
on the board of directors by Clementina Kakolaki,
treasurer, and Linda Healy, clerk.
"It's not just about receiving
funds," Pelland said. "I think many people want to
belong to something that is larger ... and in my
conversations with others, I know there is great
interest in Africa."
Pelland added the group's
mission is to harness interested community partners
in this region and elsewhere to help support and
advocate for the "heroic efforts being made by the
people providing care on the ground" in Tanzania.
"We believe this provides the
best opportunity for major impact and reforms," he
Pelland described the nonprofit
as a "catalyst" for change, with people coming
together -- united by shared values.
There are several projects that
members of the Project Tanzania Partnership are
especially passionate about -- the Salome Learning
Center in Dar es Salaam, the 260-bed Ndolage
Hospital, and the Kamachumu Secondary School, both
The secondary school and the
hospital are located in the village of Kamachumu,
located in the northwest corner of the country
bordering Uganda. Pelland described Kamachumu as
rural and mountainous with an elevation of about
4,500 feet above sea level.
"It is rich in vegetation and
bananas and because of its elevation the climate is
comfortable," he said.
Pelland noted that the Salome
Learning Center is located in Tandale Parish, an
area that is "quite marginalized" within a larger
urban environment, adding that the center is a new
program serving young women who did not qualify to
enter secondary school after completion of grade
"The young women are poor and in
the absence of this program would be relegated to
the street without any means of support," Pelland
During a trip in 2008 to
Tanzania, Pelland and his fellow travelers met with
the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa who
oversee the center and they in turn introduced their
students and the life enrichment skills programs
that are offered on a daily basis.
One of the students, Regina, was
a standout from all the others.
"Regina completed primary
education in 2006 (standard seven) and did not
qualify for secondary education," Pelland said. "In
2008, she began at the Salome Learning Center and
received tutoring in English and began a vocational
course in sewing."
Pelland explained that Regina is
the third born of seven children, and her family
lives in a rented room that serves as bedroom and
living room. Her father is a local trader in the
sale of goods on the roadside in a small kiosk, but
was recently asked to leave the area as a result of
the road being extended as well as the development
of a larger store.
"Leaving or moving from this
place on the roadside means the loss of customers
and income," Pelland added.
He noted that by helping fund
the learning center, and by providing students like
Regina with tuition and books, more children can
seek out a safe haven and benefit from vocational
development and training.
"The young women learn sewing
and how to make clothes and many of their clothes
can be potentially sold to provide some source of
income," Pelland said.
As he and his fellow Partnership
members gear up for a letter campaign introducing
the new nonprofit, they all agree that a small
amount of money can have an "incredible impact" on
others. However, it's not just about donations it's
about people in this country becoming "ambassadors"
by visiting and sharing their skills with others.
"These people will inspire you,"
In the coming years, the
nonprofit will help purchase sewing machines, school
supplies and sewing materials for the Salome
Learning Center, as well as support the restoration
and repair of the hydropower turbines at the
hospital which will help meet or exceed its
electricity needs. Additionally, the Partnership
will support education and school projects at the
Pelland noted that his "take
away" from every trip to Tanzania is the same "you
always feel more inspired," he said, adding the
group's next trip is scheduled for this December.
For more information on how to
become involved with the new nonprofit, go to