It is nearly three years since I arrived in Tanzania, when I took up the role as Senior Manager of Tanzania – then Senior Programmes manager for SPW. How much things have changed since then and what a journey we have been on! Within three months of arriving in country, SPW was no more, and we were Restless Development – a fresh name with a really vibrant brand that better reflected what we wanted to be and how we wanted to be seen. It didn’t come easy to most of us in Tanzania, and there were plenty of reservations, but the name is catching on across our stakeholders. There was an encouraging moment when I took the dalla dalla this week in Iringa , and asked the Conductor to stop at ‘SPW’ and he turned round to the driver and said ‘Acha Restless Development’. At least in town, Restless is catching on good and properly!
What a journey we have been on!
When I arrived we had only two donors to reply on for the majority of all our funds. Today we are having to line up the donors and partners in a queue as everyone wants us to work with them. That is huge testament to our work , staff team and management! 2012 also saw the launch of our new Strategy – our ambitious platform for the change that we want to see for young people across Tanzania – and Boy was it impressive! Unique to many other country programmes, we embraced all 3 strategic areas, and all 5 approaches – ensuring that we would seek investment in our programmes embracing all the areas of work within the organisation.
Our Urban programme back then – or ex volunteer programme, is now a truly Next Generation Leaders programme operating out of Dar but with satellite support in Dodoma – under the leadership of Margaret Mliwa who has transformed the team and direction of the programme to where it is now. That I have been able to pass on the reins to someone in my own team, who has performed so exceptionally, is a dream come true. Our new Number Two is no Senior Manager for Programmes – she is a leader and a Director and I know deservedly has the support of the entire organisation as she takes on what is one of the best jobs in the world.
Our Southern Highlands programme is more united than it has ever been. Under Hamim’s leadership the team is united and strategic. That’s an incredible achievement.
And Our M and E Unit is now a Programme Quality and Learning Directorate, led with experience from Chitung’u and his team. For me, this is one of the most exciting developments, and I cannot wait to hear how the Unit will evolve under his leadership over the next 12 months.
But let us also remember where we are now and how we got here. Let us commit to learning from the past mistakes that have been made and taking all the great things we did to resolve them forwards for the future.
The last three years have also been an amazing personal journey for me. I came into the role as a slightly nervous Programme Manager with lots to learn and huge expectations on my plate, and I leave the organisation as a Senior Manager still with lots to learn! I am so grateful to our CD, Dilhani, for pushing me so much, for being the strategic leader that I hope one day to become, and for believing and trusting me to deliver. I leave having been privileged to work with the most inspiring group of colleagues, ex volunteers, alumni, partners and stakeholders I ever have worked with. I am so proud that so many of our staff (and ex volunteers) have grown internally and that we have also managed to attract and nurture incredible talent from outside the organisation. I have learnt so much about myself. I have learnt that having a great quality of life means balancing having fulfilment and achievement at work, combined with lots of time to enjoy all of those things at home and outside the office.
I hope that I have led by example throughout my three years, and I would love to leave this amazing country thinking that some people have learnt something from me that they can use to support them in their working lives in some shape or form. Our CD talks about a ‘legacy’, and I guess if I was to leave something like that, mine would be to hope that I have been able to lead by example, to show that position or title doesn’t mean an expectation of respect – as that is earned not given, that we can work as a team, on the same page, going in the same direction, as one family, irrespective of whether we are Tanzanian or International staff, of if we are finance or programmes staff, if we are from Mbeya or Dar. I hope also that I have been fair and consistent in how I made decisions at all levels, and I hope that when there were questions or concerns, staff were able to talk to me and that I communicated well enough for people to understand the rationale behind those decisions.
There is so much more work to do, and we know what needs to be done. Being values based leaders is easy to talk about and say, but not so easy to do. I look at the married men that pick up the beautiful young girls at every hotel I have ever stayed at in Tanzania and try and link it back to our work with UNICEF. I shudder when I see the future leaders of the country the young female graduates – our ex volunteers maybe even – being picked up by the Big Potatoes in their flashy cars outside of the university bars each Friday night in Sinza in Dar. I see the shrug of the shoulders when people talk about having to sleep with the manager in order to get a job in the country as if this is normal. We need to keep that passionate sense of injustice in us, we must not be afraid to speak out and question, and also look at ourselves, so that we keep driving our mission and values forwards.
I would like to personally thank you all for being the most amazing colleagues anyone could hope to have, for your constant support, strength and encouragement, for believing in me throughout my three years, and for backing up my decisions and actions when the going got tough. That was real leadership and support and I will never forget it. It is a debt that I will never forget and hope that I can repay it in some way.
I will never forget you all, and wish you all, and the organisation all the very best in the years to come.
Please stay in touch and I welcome you to my home wherever it will be in the world in the years to come.
Many thanks and best wishes always,
Your friend and colleague,