Meet Happy Timbuka, Programme Coordinator for the Ruvuma Region in Tanzania. She joined Restless Development in 2006 as a volunteer and moved up the ranks as a Field Officer, and Assistant Programme Coordinator before her current role. This is a blog in the Q&A series by Anna Tyor, US Philanthropy Manager at Restless Development USA.
When and why did you start volunteering with Restless Development?
I started volunteering with Restless Development in 2006 because I was inspired by my friend who attended Restless Development programmes for in-school youth that taught classroom sessions on Sexual Reproductive Health. My school was not one of those schools.
Most of my fellow young people in my school were affected by teenage pregnancies and they were expelled out of the school. Some suffered from sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and others failed to finish school as they saw it as a waste of time.
So, I told myself that one day I want to be volunteer of Restless Development. So, thank god, in 2006 I saw advertisement in which Restless Development was recruiting volunteers. So I grabbed this opportunity and managed to be placed at one of the village in Njombe region in Southern part of Tanzania.
What were you doing before you volunteered with us?
Before joining Restless Development, I was studying at Mbeya Secondary School and I saw my fellow young girls were affected by teenage pregnancies and they were expelled from school. It is the right of every child to get education; some of them were not attending schools on time due to the house chores which they have compared to boys. So, this was one thing among many others that caused me to like to work with Restless Development and support my fellow young people, especially girls.
What are you doing now as a Programme Coordinator?
Now I am the Programme Coordinator of Restless Development Tanzania in Ruvuma region, in southern part of Tanzania. My roles are to oversee the implementation of the programme in Ruvuma region as well as gender-focus in Tanzania. I lead on the Mabinti Tushike Hatamu project (Girls Lets be Leaders) which is implemented in 3 regions of Ruvuma, Iringa and Dar-es-salaam and aims to address gender issues by empowering girls aged 14-19 and enabling them to make informed decisions about their health, livelihoods and future. I also play a role in educating the wider communities to ensure that marginalized girls are included, respected, heard and given the opportunity to participate in their society as equals.
What changed in you when since volunteering and working with Restless?
I have changed a lot starting from the way I am thinking, especially as I look my fellow young people as the resources/asset for the development of the world now and in the future. This is because young people have the energy and they are creative in making sure that they go with the technology. Also through the training that I got during my volunteering time it made me to be a good facilitator in supporting raising awareness of young people especially on Life skills, Livelihoods, Sexual Reproductive Health and gender issues especially in empowering girls.
What did you do while you were in the US?
When I was in US I supported Restless Development USA and Restless Development globally as an agency on gender-related partnerships. Also, it was a chance for me to meet with key gender-focused partners in New York, engage in UN General Assembly events and participate as a speaker at a US reception event to help communicate and showcase Restless Development’s work to our individual supporters.
What impact do you feel your role at the UN played?
The role that I played at the UN is to ensure that as Restless Development staff we are fighting for GENDER EQUALITY which is Goal 5 of the SDGs. Through engaging in different meetings that I attended during UN week such as that which was organized by Population Council, Plan International and Equal Measure 2030 impact me a lot because I get experience on how other International Organizations use their resources and strategy in empowering young women and girls. So this is an alert to me that even in our programmes within Restless Development there is so much to do in ensuring that we empower young women and girls as well in ensuring there is equal participation in all spheres of development.
What do you hope for the future for the young people that you work with today in Tanzania?
My hope for the young people that I work with in Tanzania today is that they will be leaders in different development sectors within and outside of Tanzania. This is because of the training and other capacity building initiatives that we put as our efforts on helping them to be leaders of today and for the future. We have seen that when young people are empowered to be leaders, they respond and change to be the active citizens in their communities and their countries at large.