This week’s speaker was Marlene Killian, a private piano and voice teacher in Williamsville.  She has a B.M. (Bachelors Music) degree from SUNY - Fredonia, an M.M.E. (Masters – Music Education) degree from Indiana University, and a French teaching certification from Buffalo State College.   She was a full-time vocal music teacher for many years and also worked in the field of Arts Management at Theater Place and with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.  Upon adopting two daughters from China she started a private business at her home.


In August 2013 when both girls started college, Ms. Killian was able to realize her dream of traveling to Africa. She went on an adventure trip involving a climb up Mt. Kilimanjaro followed by a 5-day safari. She prepared for the climb for several months and thought that reaching the summit of the 19,370-foot (5,895-meters) mountain would be the greatest experience of her life. Little did she know that her trip would evolve into a passionate mission to help the African people.


While in Africa, Ms. Killian witnessed deplorable living conditions first-hand. Most Tanzanians live in shacks with no electricity, running water or paved roads. They survive mainly on subsistence agriculture, working on tiny plots of land with primitive tools.


Nkowe Secondary School is in the rural Lindi Region in southeast Tanzania. There are few teachers in the school and often 100 students are packed into a classroom. Many students drop out of school because their families cannot afford the nominal annual fee charged by all government schools. Learning takes place solely by copying notes from the chalkboard, all written in English.   Most of the students have a very poor understanding of the English language and so they “blindly” try to memorize their notes.   They are unprepared for the national examinations and, therefore, most of the students don’t pass. Without a basic high school diploma, jobs are impossible to find. In order to find work to support a family, a high school diploma and a good command of the English language are necessary because the best paying jobs are in tourism.


Being a teacher, Marlene Killian understands that education is the way out of poverty. Before leaving Tanzania, she promised to help at least one school and she chose the school that was the poorest.  Ms. Killian is in regular contact with the headmaster of the Nkowe Secondary School and he has compiled a complete list of all the textbooks needed by his students.


Nkowe Secondary School Project is a branch of Journeys of Solutions, Inc. (, an existing umbrella charity (a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization ) with its office in Webster, NY.  Ms. Killian’s fledgling charity is connected as well with the SUNY-AB Buffalo Tanzania Education Project.  The Chinese Club of WNY has supported the charity since its inception.



Highlights of Ms. Killian’s presentation included:

·        With both adopted daughters in college, Ms. Killian decided to fulfill her dream of climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro.

·        The trip was grueling and the necessary gear proved to be more than what was advertised.

·        The trip was also an experience of a lifetime!

·        While in Tanzania, she witnessed first-hand the deplorable living conditions of most Tanzanians.

·        She found the people incredibly kind, courageous, hard-working, and spiritual.

·        Ms. Killian determined that the best help she could give is to improve education.

·        She has founded Journeys of Solutions, Inc. to raise funds to buy textbooks and other teaching supplies for the Nkowe Secondary School in the Lindi Region in southeast Tanzania.

·        100% of all funds are used to buy books and supplies. No funds are used for administering the foundation.

·        Donations (checks payable to Journeys of Solutions, Inc.; noting Nkowe School Project in the Memo Section) can be mailed to Journeys of Solutions, Inc.; c/o Marlene Killian, Project Manager; 8253 Oakway Lane; Williamsville, NY  14221.