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Tina Sweeney, Outreach and Partnerships Officer - CUSO INTERNATIONAL

How did you hear about Manyatta Network, how was your experience with us and what is your opinion?

I was attending a diaspora partner event that Fana Mekonen, founder of Enheed is an organization that provides a positive space for young Ethiopians to express their voice, exchange ideas and explore their roots. At this event I was seated beside Meryl Afrika who is a volunteer with Manyatta Network, and as we spoke about why we were attending and our work; we found common values I wanted to learn more about Manyatta’s Networking.
I attended your May 27 event and found there to be great opportunity for collaboration and enhancing our comment values of giving back.

Tell us about you (Background, believes, profession, passions and drivers)

Always a good question… so much can be found online, so I’ll try not to be boring and give you something fresh. As for my background, I was born in Nova Scotia, grew up in Montreal from the age of six and moved to Toronto in 1997 to build a marketing career. And although I loved most of my marketing agency life, I did burn out and that was common back in the mid 2000’s we were literally sleeping at the office.
So after 11 years I did a career transition from CPG marketing to Non-Profit and then eventually into International Development (my sweet spot). The catalyst for the change was a volunteer trip to Tanzania and then to Dharamsala India, teaching experiential learning methods to primary school children. I currently work for Cuso International in the Toronto satellite office as their Outreach and Partnerships Officer and if there was any position I felt well suited for, this is it. I get to build partnerships and work with diaspora communities who are interested in sharing their skills and volunteering overseas.

What is Cuso International?

Cuso International is a development organization that works to reduce poverty and inequality through the efforts of highly skilled volunteers, collaborative partnerships and compassionate donors. Our Vision is a world where all people are able to realize their potential, develop their skills and participate fully in society. And the way we do this is through working in inclusive partnerships through equitable and sustainable development.
The best way to understand our work is directly from our volunteers:

If you’re interested in volunteering in Tanzania or anywhere else within our 18 countries, click
here. cusointernationalTanzaniaplacement

Give us more details about your current role.

My role is within the communications and marketing team and I development partnerships with diaspora organizations and academic institutions to leverage their skills &expertise, as vital development partners; more generally I act as an ambassador for the organization in the Toronto area as our HQ is in Ottawa and I host roundtable discussions and engagement activities to support the recruitment of volunteers overseas.

What would be your advises to young African diaspora?

I think access is key for everyone, I was fortunate to have a mom who worked for herself and an older sister who is an entrepreneur so our world’s intersected quite a bit and she opened doors for me and shared her networks. I was exposed to opportunities but I had to act on them, so my advisee is nothing you have not heard before: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. Things don’t always come when you want them to, so build up resiliency if you don’t have it. And most importantly, use your networks, I think what Manyatta is building is a positive force for change for the African Diaspora and narrative. And if I can add one more thing, and that’s to be reflective and self-aware, I think we might be conditioned often to go for the higher paycheck and promotion only because it’s what’s expected, but what I have come to learn for myself, is that I know I like being in the execution of things, and I am really good at it vs. directing; so I’m happy doing what I do and feel highly valuable to the organization. You can still be a leader yet do what you do best, it is not always about the title, know yourself and go for what makes you shine.

What is your vision of the future?

A shared humanity and by that I mean whatever skills or talents you have, find a way to share it and bring others along with you. For me that’s who and what I know in the marketing and
international development space, I’m on linked in all the time and if you think I can help you, I’ll be happy to try, provided you’re not soliciting me to buy something.

Tina's LinkedIn
Website Cuso International