As a long-time driver for Project Concern International (PCI), Sylvia Tshoswane has learned how to navigate much more than just the backroads of Botswana. She’s steered herself and her family toward a better life.
When she’s not out in the field transporting staff, she’s behind-the-scenes at PCI trainings, workshops and other events—actively listening from the back.
“Even though I am not participating, I have benefited so much from what PCI teaches to our partners and communities,” Tshoswane said. “… What I’ve learned through the trainings, I try it with my kids. And I tell you, it really works! PCI has changed my life and my kids’ lives.”
Prior to joining PCI Botswana in February 2008, Tshoswane left an abusive marriage and was working to raise six children alone. Four belonged to her sister, who died of HIV/AIDS when Tshoswane was 25 years old. That loss, coupled with Tshoswane’s own experience of getting pregnant at an early age, made the topics discussed by PCI program staff particularly hit home for her.
“I took all the skills and techniques to build myself and family,” Tshoswane said of listening in on sessions related to parenting, behavior change, HIV prevention, violence against women, and how to talk to children and adolescents about sexual and reproductive health. “… I struggled with raising these children, but all I wanted for them was to have a good education, because I didn’t do much in my education level.”
In addition to helping her strengthen her relationships with her children and other family members, Tshoswane credits PCI with giving her the chance to grow professionally as well. By working under the Finance and Administration department for nearly a decade, she now knows how to prepare purchase orders, complete bid analyses, handle travel requests, write checks and do other office tasks.
“Even though I am a driver, I never fold my hands,” Tshoswane said. “… I am passionate about my job and administrative issues and would like to improve more on them whenever opportunities become available.”
Dorothy Tlagae, Country Director for PCI Botswana, said it’s this kind of attitude and drive that makes Tshoswane a remarkable woman and key team member of the organization.
“[Sylvia] is a very determined person who never gives up on tasks assigned to her,” Tlagae said. “She has a very open mind to learning new things and is critical to the delivery of our work.”