When Selestian makes the rare announcement that he will be taking his allotted vacation days at RVCV’s senior staff morning meeting, you will hear audible gasps and can watch as the panic washes over the faces of the rest of the staff. Selestian, the HR and Purchasing Officer for the Village, is known for his kind, always ready to help attitude that makes him the go-to person for issues that fall both inside and far beyond his job description. With no task too small or too large, Selestian is RVCV’s best kept secret in accomplishing it’s mission of transforming communities, building brighter futures, and creating change in Tanzania.
Whether mentoring student teachers, ordering the necessary supplies for our education programs, helping a new volunteer set up their technology or ensuring that Karatu shopping arrives on time with the proper fixings for that night’s dinner, Selestian is an ever-present figure at the Village and somehow manages to be a million places at once. What many people don’t know is that Selestian’s connection to RVCV began well before the start of his employment in 2015.
We sat down with Selestian to learn more about the role RVCV has played in his life and his dedication to delivering these same services to others:
Ali: How did you first learn of RVCV?
Selestian: I actually am without parents and was living with my uncle in a nearby village when I first heard of Mama India. I was in Form 2 and was living with 7 other children at my Uncle’s house. He was a seasonal coffee picker and I knew that if I wanted to accomplish my goals, I would need help. When I finished Form 4, I went to Mama India to see if there was any way she could take me in. She encouraged me to apply for the Student Teacher program, where after spending a year working for RVCV, she would cover the costs of my advanced level study. I was so proud to join.
Ali: After finishing your year as a Student Teacher, you earned your Bachelor’s Degree, making you qualified for many different jobs, especially when combined with your unbelievable work ethic. What made you want to come back?
Selestian: I know what it is like to live without parents. I want to be able to help and live with the kids here. I am the most proud when I am serving this community. I don’t know where I would be without RVCV. Maybe I would be a farmer, or maybe I would be on the streets, or maybe I wouldn’t even have a home. The least I can do is be here to help wherever I can and be a positive part of a place that means so much to me. Because of RVCV, I am a University graduate, I have a degree in accounting, I have a future and a past I am proud of. I want to give that same thing to other children who are willing to work as hard as I did.
Ali: What is something that you have learned since joining RVCV that has surprised you?
Selestian: That creating change requires a new approach, which I apply to big ideas and small ideas. For example, if I am thinking about the many Tanzanians that believe corporal punishment is necessary in order for students to learn, RVCV showed me that fear isn’t required for kids to reach their full potential. If we replace fear with care, love and positivity, we can bring even better results. RVCV has taught me that changing the culture of a nation is possible and that in many cases old ways aren’t always the best ways. Old ways create the same futures. If we want brighter futures, we need to find a new way. I think we are finding that new way here.