Loveness Sanga is the Program Coordinator for Restless Development Tanzania’s award winning Girls Let’s be Leaders program. She recently visited the Restless Development USA office to meet with partners to talk about her work, speak to some of our supporters in the USA and talk to the media to spread the word about Restless Development and our mission (read her interview in Ashton Kutcher’s A+ magazine). The newest member of the Restless Development, USA team and Atlas Corps Fellow from Nigeria, Douglas Imaralu took the opportunity to ask her a few questions while she was in town.
What does “youth-led development” mean to you? How is it different from youth development?
Youth development means anything that contributes to advancing the needs of young people and transforming young people from an ignorant point of view. It means to help them to be more knowledgeable of the necessary information so they can bring a positive impact to themselves and their community politically, socially and economically.
But youth-led development means using, or empowering young people themselves to lead the change for that development and ensuring its impacts on themselves and their society..
Why do you think young people should be involved in decision making?
Young people are the largest, strongest but also most vulnerable population, and we believe that they already lead change of development in their communities and are the main implementers of development activities. So they are more aware of what is needed, what the challenges are, and how to go about solving those challenges. They have the necessary information, experience, knowledge and skills that can be needed in decision making.
What impact has the Mabinti Tuskike Hatamu (Girls Let’s be Leaders) Program had on young people in Tanzania?
The Mabinti program empowers the most vulnerable and less valued population of young people in Tanzania to be able to realize their potential access to different information, services and channels that influence them to become the leaders of change and find solution to their problems. It helps them to become leaders of themselves and others from local level, and to have economic independence – which makes them valuable assets within their communities and the nation at large.
How can access to information on sexual and reproductive health and rights be increased in Tanzania?
By empowering more young people, not just the ones we already work with, with Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) information they can deliver it to more people. Also, we need more SRHR hubs across Tanzania; working in collaboration with the youth and educational sectors to reinforce SRHR knowledge, and include it in the curriculum on all levels of the educational system. Finally, we need to use the media to educate on SRHR in a more youth-friendly way, say, drama, plays, stories, etc.
So what piqued your interest during your visit to the Restless Development US Hub?
The importance of partnership and fundraising revealed itself in the bigger picture at Restless Development’s US Hub, it caught my interest as got to be part of it. I was so interested by the US Hub’s strategy of channeling partners and donors, considering that they are smallest team in Restless Development, globally. I was also so impressed with their team work. They accomplished a lot within a short period of time. I admire their flexibility and management of tasks whilst involving their board members so closely who were super supportive board members – I haven’t come across such before. It was a lesson for me to take back to my team in Tanzania.
But also I enjoyed the compliments I got from New Yorkers, on my way to work almost every day considering my previous perception of New Yorkers as super busy people with no time for others. It was a good experience in general and almost six months’ worth of career growth gained within a week.