My first year in Tanzania: The Highlights

On the 15th July 2011 I left the UK behind and got on a flight to Africa, moving away from the UK for the first time.  Now, a year later, looking back the 12 months seem to have both flown by and have lasted forever.  I have been on an extremely steep professional and personal learning curve, but for the most part I am smiling if not laughing – so that is a good sign!

Personally there have been hundreds of milestones, the big and the small.  I can now navigate my way round Dar using dalladallas (I was TERRIFIED of these when I first arrived); I have got engaged; my Swahili is slowly improving.  However, for the sake of this blog I want to dwell on the professional milestones.  So, ladies and gentlemen, colleagues and friends, I give you my top five highlights of Year 1 with Restless Development Tanzania:

5:  Programmes Design

One of the great things about being a fundraiser is that you get to work with all the different directorates.  If you think of a funding application form, you need information for programmes, indicators from programme quality, budgets from finance, strategic direction for the Country Director… so basically I get to stick my nose in everywhere.

And so my fifth ‘top highlight’ has to be supporting the programme design for a new women and girls’ programme.  I was inspired by the women’s consultation day Anna and Margaret organised, how passionate the speakers were on women’s rights and how much the young female participants had to say, and Happy’s report on the Focus Group Discussions in Ruvuma made me feel connected to rural youth in a way that doesn’t often happen behind a desk in Dar.  The inspiration continued to flow as we worked with the Ruvuma team and the MC to put together some initial thoughts.  Let’s see where this takes us… but I have a feeling that it could be really big.

4:  Becoming Fundraisers Extrodonaire

If you can think back to 12 months ago you may remember that as an organisation we had very little idea on the processes of fundraising.  That isn’t to say we lacked the skills at all, just that we had not got the systems in place to transfer these skills to fundraising applications.  One of the favourite parts over the past year for me has been to see staff eager to learn about fundraiser and growing in understanding and competencies.  Now when a proposal demands a logframe or problem tree our collective Restless Development heart doesn’t sink, it rises to the challenge!  Over the coming months I firmly believe that this is going to translate into great results and year 2 of our NSF will really take off.

3:  A visit from our Global CEO

Nik turned up on his first day without his luggage but with a snickers that he shared, and from almost the first minute we were straight into a strategic meeting with UNICEF.  His visit gave me the confidence boost I needed and the motivation to really get out there and get results.  Since he left I feel that our feet haven’t really touched the ground and that we are all pulling together as a team to achieve results.  We have a buzz, an energy, a restlessness.

2:  The Fantastic MC

It is my first time as a member of a management committee and I think I may have been spoilt.  Now wherever I move next I am sure the team will not be as good!  Thank you all for your encouragement and practical support, especially in the times of tight deadlines.

However, the MC are just a small part of Restless Development, so my number one highlight has to be…

1:  OUR TEAM

An organisation is nothing without the team behind it, driving it to achieve the objectives set but also to create the family environment needed to feel secure and be productive.  If it wasn’t for all of you, I have well been on a plane back to the UK by now, not have just signed a new two year contract.  From practising my slowly improving Swahili with Shube to having emergency ‘we made the deadline!’ wine with Dil, from thinking about our livelihoods strategy in a campsite with Paul to mapping out partners with Didas in Mbeya, from doing a mixed English/Swahili elevator speech with Charlie to going to strategic meetings with Margie (and the list could go on, and on, and on) – it’s all been great.

Asanteni sana and bring on Year 2!

By Restless Development Tanzania.

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