Born to a farming family in the Matabeleland region of Zimbabwe, Nhamo Ndebele was an APO sponsored by the Netherlands from 2004 to 2007. He worked as an Officer for Gender, Local Knowledge, Agro-biodiversity and HIV/AIDS in Tanzania.
“The APO programme is an opportunity to gain international experience and professional skills development. It is an opportunity not to be missed, especially by young professionals who are looking to advance their careers.
During my first year as an APO I worked on a project for gender, biodiversity and local knowledge systems for food security. I became the communications link between the field office and headquarters in Rome and participated in developing an Agriculture Sector HIV/AIDS strategy which is still being used today.
I was also involved in the Human Security Projects (HSP) in the Refugees Affected Areas (RAA) of the Kagera and Kigoma Regions of Tanzania. Our mandate was to contain the security situation by controlling the use of arms and promoting sustainable agricultural production. We implemented successful awareness programmes, encouraging members of the refugee-affected communities to surrender their weapons in exchange for income generating projects. I was also involved in piloting the Junior Farmer Field and Life Schools (JFFLS) for orphaned children in the Refugees Affected Areas in Tanzania.
Living in Tanzania was a wonderful experience. It was a peaceful working environment and I had good working relations with my colleagues. As an African, the Tanzanians saw me as a brother and I found myself being addressed in Swahili all the time. I made lots of friends there.
The experience enriched my interpersonal skills and increased my ability to articulate issues of HIV/AIDS and gender in relation to agricultural production and food security. It also enhanced my CV and I am confident that I have become more useful to communities as a result of my experiences as an APO.”