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    8AM - 4PM (CST)


    Tanzania Life Project

    12 6th Street NE, #108

    Osseo MN 55369


    Tanzania Life Project (T)

    P.O. Box 1282

    Dodoma, Tanzania


Tanzania Life Project (USA) operates out of an office in Osseo, Minnesota and partners with Tanzania Life Project (T) which operates out of an office in Ipagala, Tanzania (near the capital city of Dodoma).

TLP (USA) is run by co-founders Jim and Katie Vanderheyden and supported by a Board of Directors which meets four to five times a year. The biography of each Board member is listed below.

Several years ago Tanzania Life Project (T) constructed a new office in Ipagala, Tanzania. This was a major step in reducing the overall cost for office space in Tanzania. Ben Mlula, Executive Director, supported by Vincent Chiwamba and Agnes Mlula, operate the Ipagala office. Their biographies are listed below under Field Staff. Tanzania Life Project (T) also has a local Board of Directors to support them in their work.

In September of each year, a team of people from the USA travels to Tanzania for face-to-face meetings and discussions with the TLP (T) NGO staff and also to visit/monitor the progress in the villages. This is a valuable trip to ensure coordination and alignment between the organizations to achieve our mutual goals.


Tanzania Life Project has been hard at work since it's inception in 2005. Co-Founders Jim and Katie Vanderheyden were introduced to Tanzanian Ben Mlula through their daughter Lisa. After hearing about the realities of Tanzanian and African life through Ben, Jim couldn't resist figuring out a way to make change. Retirement is not an option for this former electrical engineer of 34 years. Jim's experience managing programs and projects, such as the Apollo aircraft control system at Honeywell, have proven valuable to efforts of TLP. His knowledge is useful in arranging contracts with electrical and water engineering firms in Tanzania, a logistical challenge most of the time. Jim manages Tanzania Life Project with his wife Katie from their home in Minnesota. The two of them are dedicated in making a change in Tanzania one day at a time and believe the basis for change is bringing villages access to clean water.

In retirement, the opportunity to help the poor in Tanzania with all their problems, enticed Jim and Katie immensely, to the point where he now spends full time organizing, raising money, and managing all of the TLP activities. In their free time, Jim and Katie are active in their home association, church, as well as a senior choir. Their family of 8 children, 27 grandchildren and 35 great grandchildren are also active in Tanzania Life Project and keep them busy in their free time. Katie is the true unsung hero in all of the above, supporting Jim and TLP in all they do.


Ben has been leading the Tanzania Life Project presence on the ground in Tanzania since 2006. His initial request for help for his home village of Mtumba is what started the journey that ultimately led to the formation of TLP. Ben led the establishment of the local Non-Government Organization (NGO) Tanzania Life Project which is the sister organization to Tanzania Life Project in the USA.

Ben is fluent in English and has had training in management and administration. He also holds a Bachelors degree in Theology and Masters degree in Divinity. As an Anglican Minister trained in the United States and Canada, in Tanzania he is expected to hold another job, as the pay for being a minister is insufficient to live on or support a family. We are extremely fortunate to have Ben leading Tanzania Life Project in Tanzania.


Vincent began working on the very first water project that ultimately inspired the creation of Tanzania Life Project back in 2005. He was also instrumental in helping establish TLP as a local Non-Government Organization (NGO) in Tanzania.

Vincent is fluent in English and has an Advanced Diploma in Business Administration from Mzumbe University. He worked as a General Manager for the Tanzania Government Internal Trade for many years and held the positions of Hospital Administrator and Project Manager with various institutions. His experience has been crucial to organizing the many tasks required to accomplish our efforts and negotiate the resources needed for success.


Agnes became involved with Tanzania Life Project informally in 2006. She volunteered to help be a liaison for many of the Women's Empowerment and Small Business development workshops sponsored by TLP. She worked her way into a more prominent role in these sessions over time, co-facilitating and teaching the participants very valuable skills to help them be successful.

Agnes has Theological training from Kwonga and continues coursework to enhance her English skills. She formally joined the staff in 2011 as Coordinator working on many of the administrative tasks and small development projects offered to the villages. Since 2016, Agnes has been involved as an educator in the Days for Girls feminine hygiene kit distribution program. Her dedication to TLP and passion to improve the lives of women and girls in Tanzania are essential to our ability to have a lasting impact


Board Of Directors

Vice Chair

Catherine, teacher of 36 years, holds a B.S. degree in education and a master's degree in educational administration from the University of Minnesota. Her passion for helping young people discover their gifts fuels both job and outside activities. She spent a year teaching in the United Kingdom through the Fulbright Exchange Program. Catherine has been privileged to serve in a Haitian mission as well as three summer stints with her family on a mission at the Crow Indian Reservation in Montana, USA. She is excited to contribute to the life-changing work of TLP.


John holds BSB and MBA degrees in international business from the University of Minnesota. He began his career in technology with IBM in 1980 followed by roles at both the University of Minnesota and Dain Rauscher. He then transitioned careers to focus on financial services while at Dain Rauscher and progressed to hold executive level positions at Fidelity and Kestra Financial where he is now EVP, Strategic Initiatives. John and his wife Mary have been involved in many charitable organizations together over the years including youth sports, scouting, church organizations, Meals on Wheels, street outreach, CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) and Tanzania Life Project. They have traveled to Tanzania regularly as part of the TLP team to work with the wonderful people of each village and the partners at TLP (T) to evolve the program. John feels very fortunate to be learning so much from the people of Tanzania as he and the TLP team partner with them to solve the issues caused by a lack of clean, accessible water.


Mary holds a BA degree in Professional Communications. Her life experience has been a mix of motherhood, entrepreneurism, teaching and volunteerism. While raising five children in Minnesota, Mary worked for IBM and then left to create two administrative services businesses. She spent ten years teaching pre-school and later, while living in Boston, MA, worked with EduConsultants teaching computer skills to children in kindergarten through eighth grade. Throughout her life Mary has volunteered to serve others of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds. Church ministry, Meals on Wheels, Caring Therapeutic Touch in a hospital setting, and being a child advocate in the CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) program of Travis County Texas have all been paths of outreach near and dear to her heart. Mary travels to Tanzania with her husband as part of the Tanzania Life Project team on a regular basis. She is fascinated with the opportunity of two cultures coming together to solve problems and is working on improving her Swahili to better communicate with the people of Tanzania.


John holds an undergraduate degree in Accounting for Iowa State University and an MBA from the University of Minnesota. He has been at General Mills for 32 years in numerous roles ranging from finance to purchasing. Currently he leads the General Mills Brand Licensing and Partnership team focused on building strong "business to business" partnerships. Outside General Mills, John is studying to be a Deacon for the Catholic Church. He has board experience within the church and community. John believes Tanzania Life Project teaches a "village to fish" by providing water so they can independently build a sustainable life for themselves and their families.


Bob holds an undergraduate degree from the University of St Thomas. While at St Thomas he did an internship with IBM and has since worked at IBM for the past 33 years. Currently he is the Infrastructure Sales Manager for an account in the Financial Services industry. In June of 2015, Bob participated in an IBM program called the IBM Corporate Service Corp. He was assigned with a group of other IBMers to travel and live in Nairobi, Kenya to work on water issues for a county called Isiolo, Kenya. The experience has changed Bob and Tanzania Life Project gives him the opportunity to continue to use the experience and skills learned during his assignment to make a difference for people without easy access to water. Bob and his wife Christine have raised 6 children and are enjoying a growing number of grandchildren. Bob and Christine have joined together with other couples to build a marriage enrichment seminar called Marriage in Christ which is spreading throughout the diocese and the US. Bob and Christine are active members of the Catholic church as well as the People of Praise Christian Community.


Cindy Johnson has a B.S. degree from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in Human Resources Management. She has held roles in Human Resources mainly at Land O'Lakes, American Express and Ameriprise leading various functions such as Talent Acquisition, Diversity and Inclusion, Organization Effectiveness, and Talent Development which included global responsibilities in Asia and Latin America. Over the past 30 years Cindy and her family have travelled extensively and have been active in several charitable organizations, believing in giving back to local and global communities in the areas of basic human needs in a sustainable way. Her family has supported TLP since its inception, strongly believing in the mission. Cindy joined the TLP team on the 2016 annual trip focusing on women's health and empowerment.


Rick holds a law degree from the University of Cincinnati, and has spent the majority of his career in law as a technical consultant in the field of electronic investigations and discovery. He and his wife are cyclists and avid cooks. They have recently formed a company to import and market specialty foods from Italy. Rick believes that fresh, clean water helps bring health and stability to a community in ways that are significant and sustainable, and he is excited to see the improvement in the quality of lives of the villagers served by TLP.

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