Meet the Fellows: Dialing in from Tanzania

Meet our International Youth Fellows who are currently in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. 

With an academic background in public and global health and professional experience with monitoring and evaluation and project management, Gertrude credits her undergraduate experience as the launching point of her international development career.

During her time at the University of Waterloo, Gertrude co-founded the first Canadian Coalition of Global Health Research club, volunteered for a refugee support organization, and participated in the International Youth Internship Program, where she worked in Malawi through World Vision Canada.

“These experiences really immersed in me the development sphere in Canada,” she said.

After graduation, Gertrude wanted to continue finding ways to contribute to the community. She said, “I am a huge proponent of the phrase ‘Local is Global’ as I believe that addressing systemic issues such as poverty and health inequalities in our own backyard is a net positive for the world at large.” Since then, Gertrude has worked for several grassroots organizations and pursued a master’s degree to gain more insight into the international development field.

For Gertrude, this Fellowship is giving her an opportunity to learn and expand her skills. “It’s been exciting to stretch myself beyond health and nutrition programming to also think about ways to create sustainable jobs for women and youth across Tanzania,” she said.

Gertrude’s work as a Fellow includes engaging funders, developing proposals, and looking at past programs to leverage and build on the lessons learned. She said, “With the Fellowship, I’m hoping to figure out where I want to go deep because I feel like I’ve been going wide these past 10 years. I want to leave a mark and have an impact.”

Gertrude’s family is from Kenya, and Gertrude remembers hearing her parents speak fondly of their memories there.

“I didn’t grow up knowing Swahili because I grew up in Canada. But I’ve learned a lot since being here. I am grateful for this experience as it’s giving me a pathway to connect to my culture,” she said.

Peter, originally from Nova Scotia, describes himself as a generalist. “I’ve had the opportunity to do a little bit of everything,” he said. “So I saw the Fellowship as an opportunity to continue growing and diversifying, so I have a sense of who I am and what I have to offer to different teams.”

Having originally studied biology and neuroscience in university, Peter took courses on international development and history and discovered his passion for development in action during a study abroad program in Cuba.

“I realized that this kind of work was what I wanted to continue with, and I had discovered pathways to be able to pursue a career,” he said.

After completing his MA in International Development at Dalhousie University, Peter has worked in a variety of sectors, including in global health, education, early childhood development, research, communications, and monitoring and evaluation.

“The Fellowship has been a happy surprise in the sense of what I’ve been able to take on and what I’ve been able to do. When I went into the interview process, I wouldn’t have assumed that I would take on a Partnerships role. But when it was offered to me, I thought it was a great opportunity to fill out my skill set, especially as a young professional in Canada,” he explained.

As a Partnerships Fellow, Peter is involved with areas like resource mobilization, developing strategies and concept notes, and working on capacity statements when meeting with donors and other stakeholders.

Peter has also worked on various ongoing AKF programs, including Accelerating Women Climate Entrepreneurs (AWCE), a Canada-supported program.

“Most of my work [as a Fellow] is forward-focused,” said Peter. “Thinking about the evolution of these projects, what the next steps could be, what people are interested in funding – it’s something I haven’t really done before. So, [the Fellowship has] been very valuable.”

For those who are thinking about applying to the Fellowship, Peter offered some words of advice.

“People tend to underestimate themselves in this space. Trust yourself and believe in your skills. Because ultimately, the Fellowship program is an opportunity for growth and, for me, it has been wonderful to have so many people behind us. There are so many people advocating for my growth and success, from the Fellowship program managers in Canada to the country director here at AKF Tanzania.”

Since 1989, over 500 young Canadians like Gertrude and Peter have participated in AKFC’s International Youth Fellowship, a program that has launched diverse careers in government, non-profit, media, and finance. Applications for the Fellowship are open until February 1, 2023! Learn more and apply.