An Ontario woman has died in unknown circumstances while volunteering to help children in Tanzania.

Family friend Rev. Brian Goodings of Trinity United Church in Collingwood, Ont., said the Foreign Affairs Department has confirmed that town resident Susan Wells, 41, died Wednesday.


Susan Wells of Collingwood, Ont., is seen in a photo from with orphans during a 2008 trip to Tanzania. (

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

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

The department has informed the family her death was not due to misadventure, he said.

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

Wells' family are devastated, the minister said.

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

Foreign Affairs spokesman Ian Trites said in an email that a Canadian has died in Tanzania and that consular officials in the country's main city, 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.