Name: Lily Shallom
Job: Communications Manager at APOPO.
Tell me more about your childhood and studies
My mum is from Shinyanga near Lake Victoria and my dad was Dutch and they moved to Morogoro because my dad was running a water project here. I’m the youngest of 5 children and so I grew up in Morogoro and then went to boarding school in Moshi, near Kilimanjaro, when I was 10 to get a good education at an international school. Growing up like this meant that I’m a third-culture kid so I’m not part of any tribe in Tanzania really.
I studied at university in Holland and when I was there I was always seen as a Tanzanian, but when I’m here I’m seen as a foreigner. I studied Informatica, which was a combination of software development and user experience design. It was the first time I had my own computer – back in school in Tanzania I only used to have computer lessons for an hour a week.
What about your job?
I’ve been at APOPO since March 2016 when I joined as the Communications Officer and then in September 2018 I became the Communications Manager.
What are your hobbies?
As you know, I love birding. I’m a little bit addicted. I like that my kids are getting really into it too – that it’s rubbing off on them. I love hiking and going out into nature. Photography is something I’m recently starting to get into as well. I always used to just use binoculars and so it’s now much better to be able to take photos and look back through them later. It’s opened up a whole new area.
I also like cooking, and baking, but that doesn’t seem like a hobby as that is just part of normal life. I also swim a couple of times a week.
When you were a child what did you want to be when you grew up?
Initially I wanted to be a physiotherapist. I was always interested in the human body and what it can do, particularly as I’ve always been into sports.
What languages do you speak?
English, Swahili and Dutch.
“My biggest inspiration was my dad, he was an amazing person…He had a real way of understanding things and I always wanted to be just like him.”
Who is an inspiration to you?
My biggest inspiration was my dad, he was an amazing person. He was a jack of all trades after studying mechanical engineering at university. He was a plumber, a mason and a carpenter. He built our house! He left Holland in the 50’s on a ship to Kenya to work on a water project and when that was finished he went back to Holland and wasn’t happy so he came back to Africa, and fell in love with Tanzania and my mother and never left. He had a real way of understanding things and I always wanted to be just like him.
What is your favourite colour?
I really like maroon, and purples too!
I like meat. Smoked hams, salami, real biltong (not the crispy stuff).
What would your alternative career be?
I might have been a software developer or a web developer.
What’s your coolest achievement?
I’m not sure I’ve achieved it yet. I want to give my kids the right tools to make it in life. If I had to say something it would be, finding a job in Morogoro that I enjoy, that supports my family and gives back.
Can I have an interesting fact about you?
When I was at school, I was allowed to play on the boy’s sports teams so I went to Kenya and Uganda playing basketball and swimming in competitions.