June 12, 2017
We are thrilled to welcome Robin to the team as our Psychosocial and Health Program Coordinator! Her strong passion for health education and our mission is inspiring, and we are excited to see the positive impact she will bring to TFFT. Welcome, Robin!
My name is Robin Mwanga, I am the first born of three siblings. I have a younger brother and sister. I was born and raised in Arusha, Tanzania, but my parents are originally from Kilimanjaro. I love spending time with my family and aside from work, I enjoy reading books, meeting up with friends, cooking and learning new recipes, and at least twice a week I jog and exercise.
I went to boarding school in Dar es salaam for 6 years for my high school education. Afterwards, I joined the United States International University – Africa, in Nairobi, Kenya for my undergraduate degree in Psychology with a minor in Management Studies.
While in high school, I was selected to be part of the school’s counseling team, and because of that selection, I participated in several trainings that equipped us with basic skills. I was very much intrigued by the experience, it was the first time I learned about psychology as a career and from that moment I knew exactly what I wanted to do for a living.
At the time I completed my secondary education, there was no university in Tanzania that offered psychology as a bachelor’s degree, so I searched in other countries and the nearest one was in Nairobi, Kenya. My experience in a foreign country and for a degree I am passionate about was absolutely amazing.
For three months, I interned in an educational psychology firm in Nairobi. This organization works with children that have psychological difficulties in learning such as dyslexia and dyscalculia. It also addresses other issues standing as an obstacle to learning like anxiety disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bullying, stealing, behavioral problems, addiction, stress, trauma, and the like. I also supported them in an individualized education program that helped them improve academically. I loved working with those children, I was delighted in every step they took to move towards overcoming their obstacles. It was indeed a wonderful experience.
Working with children also meant working hand in hand with their parents/guardians and teachers. In reality, the well-being of the mind and emotions of children is not a revered topic of concern in Africa. Therefore, I had several sessions with the parents to provide psychological education concerning disorders and behavioral issues and how to handle them at different stages. Apart from that, I also counseled adult clients with cases such as career burn outs and relational issues.
I was also privileged to volunteer as a counselor at Arusha Lutheran Medical Centre in the Hospice and Palliative Care Department. This was quite an emotionally draining experience. I provided bereavement education and support for hospice patients and their families to let them know of the severity of the disease and instruct caregivers on how to handle their patients. It sure is not an easy department to work in, but I am forever grateful for the exposure and the knowledge I gained about chronic diseases and how to work with patients through grieving stages.
When I moved back home, I started volunteering at Arusha Mental Health Trust, a facility that offers mental health services in Arusha. This is where I got to know about The Foundation For Tomorrow. I worked as a counselor dealing with clients who had a wide range of cases including marital issues, drug addiction, anxiety disorders, post traumatic stress disorders, and other mild cases such as behavioral problems, phobias, and panic attacks. They required different therapies relative to their individual cases and from such wide framework with different cultural backgrounds I learned something new each day. Arusha Mental Health Trust also receives clients from different schools and organizations, and when I saw students brought in by The Foundation For Tomorrow I looked into the organization and was interested to work with them.
I joined The Foundation For Tomorrow in November 2016 as an intern for the Scholarship Program. I was not directly working in my field of experience, I mostly managed academic data for the scholars which included entry, analysis, and evaluation of the results. I also assisted in facilitating mentoring workshops, youth camp, and case management. I also worked with the Full Circle program, where I facilitated leadership and entrepreneurship club meetings in our partner schools. I was thrilled to once again work on the ground with teenagers. We brainstormed business ideas, leadership strategies, and life outside of school. It was wonderful to share insights that helped them open up their minds and thoughts and to challenge each other on different aspects. I learned from them as well.
So here I am, now fully absorbed in the TFFT team, as the Psychosocial and Health Program Coordinator. I look forward to adding value from my experiences to the lives of our scholars as well as parents. To come up with new approaches towards social and behavioral wellbeing of scholars in order to build into the vision of TFFT will empower the future of developing nations that lays in the hands of today’s youth. I am excited for my new role with TFFT!