Shermin Moledina: Returning to Give Back

(This article appeared as a sidebar to the feature article, Expanding the Borders, of the Winter 2015 SSA Magazine.)

Shermin MoledinaTanzanian-born Shermin Moledina says she’s appreciated the “privilege” to attend both college and graduate school in the United States, but she couldn’t see herself staying once school ended. “Each time I’ve gone back, because I felt a sense of duty to my country and didn’t want to contribute to the brain drain,” she says. “I felt the need to bring my skills and what I’ve learned to a place where well-trained human resources are not the norm.”

Moledina arrived at SSA with six years of experience as a program manager for children’s services at the Mkombozi Center for Street Children. While at SSA, she did her field placement at Community Counseling Centers of Chicago, and after graduation in 2011, she helped set up a National Children’s helpline called 121Help.me for the BeCause Foundation in Chicago.

In September 2012, Moledina returned to Tanzania to consult for the Caucus for Children’s Rights, which combats child abuse and neglect through grassroots organizing and public awareness campaigns. She has been developing the professional development program for front-line child protection workers, as well as providing technical input for a citywide child protection system.

“There’s some in-service training for people already on the job, but it’s quite ad-hoc and not comprehensive,” she says. The overall system “is very nascent and not nationwide yet. It’s really a matter of working with local districts and local government authorities to set one up that’s comprehensive, efficient and doesn’t create more harm than good.”

Moledina says her experience at the Mkombozi Center has provided valuable background for the job. “One of the reasons we have so many children on the street is because of child abuse, neglect and exploitation,” she says. “I started to realize the detrimental effects of there not being a child protection system.”

Moledina figures she will continue as a consultant because it provides the flexibility to contribute where she’s most needed. “Whether I’ll be in Tanzania forever, I don’t know,” she says. “It is home. It’s where I see myself for the foreseeable future. Setting up a child protection system takes time.”