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Dina Dabo: Juggling motherhood and work

Saturday July 17 2021
Dina pic

Dina Dabo at he home office. PHOTO | COURTESY

By Lilian Ndilwa

Balancing motherhood and work is no joke. It is a state that demands patience, readiness and awareness of how to cope with both situations so as to fully take part in them.

Juggling between work and motherhood, especially in early parenting, comes with disappointments, zero predictions and questionable moments alongside the happiest ones, new memories and lessons.

It is because of this reason that new parents are advised to have experienced people beside them who have gone through this stage to guide them accordingly.

They are advised to set routines that would assist the execution of work-parenting life. Working and soon-to-be mothers are often advised to take timely breaks from work so as to fully focus and prepare themselves for their newborn.

Dina Dabo, founder of Tanzania Facilitation Services (TFS), carved herself a different path as a new mom.

In a daring yet brave act that is considered almost impossible in our society, Dina opened up her consultancy agency.

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“Growing up, I was initially sure I would get into business studies, but I later found passion in socio-developmental studies,” Dina narrates.

Once she had completed her undergraduate studies, she knew she had to continue with her postgraduate studies but was quite unsure just how she would fund my studies.

She then spoke to two of her lecturers at the time (Professor Ari Sitas and Professor Frank Matose) and asked them for guidance on what to do next.

She was at that point in life where she had nothing to lose and a keenness to work extra side jobs to get enough funding for her postgraduate studies.

Dina adds that “I was then offered two scholarships and a part-time job with the Afro-Asia research project under Professor Sitas. From him, I developed my problem-solving skills; he allowed me to independently find solutions to the problems at hand. From Prof Matose, I learned that in addition to a passion in socio-developmental issues, I was also passionate about environmental issues.”

This led Dina to pursue a master’s degree in Environmental Humanities at the University of Cape Town in South Africa.

After completing her Master’s degree in South Africa, Dina came back to Dar es Salaam and started the hunt for a job that matched her education.

“For a new graduate, it is very difficult to find a job in Tanzania. I recall one time I had sent out about 30 job applications to different organizations for different positions in my line of field in a month, but they all yielded no fruits,” Dina explains.

It became overwhelming that she decided to step back and reevaluate her next steps and that was when the TFS plan was found.

“I built my organization on the basis of the skills I had acquired at different times, from the days I involved myself in research to when I temporarily took part in the management of several projects during my university days and afterwards,” she says.

By the time her organization kicked off, Dina gave birth and all hell broke loose. It was not easy juggling between setting time for her daughter and directing her organization which is still a one person effort.

Tanzania Facilitation Services is a digital start-up that provides support services to SMEs and offers Specialized Human Resource services and an array of virtual assistance services.

Some of these services include workshops on sexual harassment, employee related taxes (PAYE, SDL etc) and assistance with employee related grievances.

Virtual assistance services on the other hand include administrative assistance, project coordination, workshop curating, web content creation, social media management as well as simple drag & drop web design.

“Every mother has her own realities to work with. My reality is that I have to juggle being the best mother for my child at all times because children don’t come with a check-in and check-out time. At the same time having to bring my A-game to a new company that needs hundred percent at all times. So often times, I have had to pump the breaks on some of the other roles that I have to play as an individual- whether it is taking care of myself, or being a better sister & daughter, a better partner or even a better friend,” Dina details.

Addressing the challenges she has faced between working and fending for her baby, Dina mentions ‘the mom guilt’ as her biggest challenge.

“It is the constant guilt of wanting to spend my day with my child but needing to focus on building and running the business. This has, at times, made me feel as though I am not giving my all to both my child and the business,” Dina explains.

In tackling this, Dina advises new mothers who are also working at the same time to have support systems they can depend on when it comes to execution of tasks as well as taking care of their babies.

“A support system that will step in to care for your child when you need to focus on work, a support system that will remind you that you are doing great as a mother and a businesswoman, especially in times of doubt.

A support system will also be honest enough to give you constructive criticism when need be. This support system can be a mentor, a partner, a parent or a friend.” Dina says.

Working mothers also have to know when to take breaks so as to shut off the negative feelings and thoughts, even for a few hours or a day as these breaks will allow them to refocus, re-evaluate and work with the realities of both motherhood and working.

“As much as working and being a mother at same time sounds and seems hard, there is so much you can learn every day and add to your skill set to better your work. As of now, I have learned to be prepared to fix problems as they come and not cave in and quit because challenges do not stop coming. You just need to find better ways to accept the challenges and overcome them. With every challenge overcome, you come out on the other end a different but stronger working mother,” Dina smiles.

Kudos to all working mothers, you got this!