COLLINGWOOD, Ont. -- An Ontario woman has died in unknown circumstances while volunteering to help children in the east African country of Tanzania.

Family friend Rev. Brian Goodings of Trinity United Church says Foreign Affairs has confirmed that Collingwood resident Susan Wells, 41, died on Wednesday.

He says Wells left the town, about 120 kilometres northwest of Toronto, for Tanzania last weekend on a month-long trip, carrying suitcases stuffed full of educational materials for children.

Goodings says Foreign Affairs has told Wells' family that an autopsy has been performed in Tanzania as authorities there try to discover cause of death.

He says the department has informed the family her death was not due to misadventure.

Goodings says Wells was an experienced traveller who had gone on numerous trips abroad to help out charities, including five previous voyages to Tanzania.

He said Wells' family are devastated.

"They're just shocked. Shocked. It's been really horrible," Goodings said.

Foreign Affairs spokesman Ian Trites said in an email that a Canadian has died in Tanzania and that consulate officials in the city of Dar es Salaam are working with local authorities to gather more information.

The department advises travellers to exercise a "high degree of caution" while visiting Tanzania.

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  • Clarecia Christie, Kingston Jamaica

    Current Organizations: <a href="">Ontario Liberal Party</a> and the <a href="">Canadian And African Business Women's Alliance</a>. <strong>Why have they decided to volunteer in Canada? </strong> "I love volunteering. It's my way of giving back to my community, city, country and the world at large. I love cultural industries, women's organizations and youth development and this is where most of my volunteering occurs. In Canada, volunteering has helped me meet people, learn routes to different parts of the city and network towards a job. The most rewarding feeling of volunteering is actually seeing the positive impact on people's lives."

  • Leah Bautista, Manila, Philippines

    Current Organizations: <a href="">Institute For Canadian Citizenship's Building Citizenship Halifax Committee</a>, reading volunteer at Central Spryfield Elementary School and volunteer at the <a href="">Saint Benedict Parish in Halifax. </a> <strong>What's your advice to other Canadians who are interested in being involved in their own communities?</strong> "My advice to other new Canadians is to get involved immediately in their community by checking out various government and private websites that are looking for volunteers, reading community papers or church bulletins and networking. It is only by going out of one's usual routine and circle of family and friends that one can truly become immersed in Canada's way of life and culture."

  • Sherlou Lintag, Australia

    Current Organizations: <a href="">Institute for Canadian Citizenship’s Guelph Citizenship Committee.</a> <strong>What does volunteering mean as a Canadian?</strong> "Volunteering does make me feel Canadian. It seems to me that volunteering is a big part of being a Canadian. Giving back to the community big or small, financially or just time is what makes a good citizen. Volunteering is done from the heart, a true definition of selflessness and generosity."

  • Pelagia Vettaparamnbil, Cochin

    Current Organization: Pelagia is currently looking for volunteering experiences in Canada after becoming a Canadian citizen last June. <strong>Why do you want to volunteer?</strong> "I've always like to help people. When we came to Canada, [five years ago] there was no one to help us and we suffered a lot. I had no relatives and no friends here. Later, my family and I went to the local YMCA and from there we got information about the job market and housing. Finally we started with some job agencies and slowly started building up our life in Canada.I think people should get involved with their communities for the betterment of the community itself."