Name: Pendo Msagu
From: Luguru Tribe from the Morogoro region of Tanzania
Job: Supervisor and Coordinator of Animal Welfare, Health and Breeding at APOPO, alongside being a rat trainer.
Tell me more about your current job
I’m an MDR trainer and supervisor. I’m the only female supervisor at APOPO. I’ve worked here for 10 years. I joined as a data entry operator and I also started sample preparation and then also moved on to training. I became a group leader of the training in a trial for rat rescue operations. I spent 6 months working at the minefield operations in Mozambique and I was the first female operator to be deployed to Mozambique.
I am also a qualified seamstress and have a tailoring business in town and I make the uniforms for the APOPO staff and the harnesses for the Mine Detection Rats.
I am passionate about developing women and I really want to show them that it’s possible to do anything. Women are really dedicated and committed to getting things done and I want to show them that they can do just as well as the men. Women can lead too – we lead our husbands and children – so I want to show that. I always try to develop the people in my team too.
Who has been an inspirational person in your life?
I have been inspired at every step of my life. My parents inspired me since I began understanding things. They were always so loving to each other and it showed me true love. They were always so generous to each other and they shared everything and looked out for each other.
Is there a quote that you live by?
“Everything is possible” and “Practice makes perfect”.
When you were a little girl, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I was eager to be a nurse. Anything that I could do help others and serve humans. It’s been in my heart since I was a little girl. I have always loved to help people.
I didn’t get to go to further education in science because my family was very poor. But I tried really hard to get into schools for nursing and midwifery by writing letters to schools even when I was only in year 6. My father saw that I had been invited for an interview at nursing school but I was very young so I still had to go on to secondary education. Sadly I wasn’t able to study science at secondary school because we couldn’t afford for me to go to those schools. I ended up studying office management and data management courses.
Before I came to APOPO, I worked at World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Ministry of Health, and I was working on a malaria project for two years collecting qualitative and quantitative data for those projects. When my contract ended I became a data clerk for APOPO.
What are your hobbies?
I like listening to music and singing. I sing at church and at other occasions, sometimes even at APOPO events. I composed a song called “Happy Day for the Heroes” and I sing it at Christmas time with the team here. I like reading stories and also books that help me understand business matters and economics to help me develop as a businesswoman.
“I am passionate about developing women and I really want to show them that it’s possible to do anything. Women are really dedicated and committed to getting things done and I want to show them that they can do just as well as the men. Women can lead too.”
What is your favourite animal?
Dogs, cats and even the rats now. Just knowing that they can save people’s lives is just amazing. I really love them and I’m very protective of them. I have a cat at home and I’ve been training him because I’m so sure that animals can do amazing things. My cat even uses the toilet and closes the door! I just have to flush it after he has been. He is very well behaved and doesn’t ever take food that isn’t his.
What is your favourite food?
My favourite national food is like a sweet potato, we call it magimbi in Swahili. I love to snack rather than have big meals and I eat lots of salad and fruits.
Where is your favourite place?
I love rock gardens and botanical gardens, I like to be surrounded by nature.
What was your favourite subject at school?
English. I’ve always tried really hard to learn and I enjoyed writing stories.
What is the biggest achievement in your life?
Everything I have done has just been one step after another and so being able to work and keep learning new things to develop is very important. The background I came from was poor enough that people were having to focus on looking after themselves but I am moving towards being able to help other people. I studying short courses to achieve a diploma and I have one course left to complete. I would love to study for a post graduate degree one day to be able to become an international business woman.
I just finished a three month course in counselling and I am looking at how I can use this in my life.