Until recently, Scott McFaddin worked as a Sr. Consultant at Protiviti Dallas. In 2014, he and his family moved to Geita, Tanzania, to pursue their dream of running a registered NGO called Neema House, which serves vulnerable and at-risk children. Thanks to Scott’s accounting background and his wife’s masters in social work and experience running a shelter for children, the two make a perfect pair of co-directors. Scott enjoys spending time with his four boys, watching movies, reading, and listening to music and podcasts. Connect with Scott on LinkedIn.
The most vulnerable group in developing countries is children. Neema House exists to care for children who are orphaned, abandoned, or unable to live with family due to safety concerns (this last group is focused on children with Albinism). Our goal is to care for this children until they are healthier, older, or able to be reunited with extended family or we try to place them with adoptive families. We believe it’s better for them to be raised in a family environment instead of group homes until adulthood.
What’s your day-to-day like?
My primary task has been setting up the accounting system from scratch, as nothing existed prior to my arrival. I’ve been going through four years’ worth of handwritten ledgers, Excel spreadsheets, bank statements, etc. to accurately record assets, revenue, and expenses. It’s been a long process, but I think I’m near finished. Other than that, I review weekly budgets, monitor our child sponsorship revenue from the States, and have started to implement basic cash controls (there are no credit or debit cards here).
How has your background helped you in your current role?
As a consultant, you try to look at things from an outside or different perspective than your clients. You ask questions and challenge assumptions. That has helped me as now I’m in the role of the client. I take a step back when I am doing daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly accounting tasks and ask myself, how would I want this to look if I came to audit or consult on this work?
What was the experience like moving your family to Tanzania?
Moving a family of six to a different country is challenging, but not impossible. We have awesome friends and family that really helped us throughout our move and transition. The biggest adjustment was and still is learning a new language: Swahili. We live in a small town and very few people speak English. We have had several weeks of lessons and we manage getting around, but there are always new words and sayings we learn through conversations daily.
One of the other adjustments is food. We actually are able to make a lot of our favorite foods here (we make Mexican food and pizza weekly), however there are not any Western-style restaurants so we don’t eat out much. Just think about days you just don’t feel like cooking and you decide to go to Fuzzy’s Taco Shop or Mellow Mushroom. Plus, we make our meals from scratch, which is much healthier overall, but it takes more planning and more time than in the States.
What is something unexpected you have experienced?
The most unexpected thing was receiving a goat as a gift! Since March, we’ve been providing baby formula every month to a family so their granddaughter can live with them instead of Neema House. As a way to show their appreciation and thank us for our help, they gave us one of their goats as a gift! My wife Cheryl was very surprised when they came out carrying a goat and then she had to drive two hours back to our house with it in the back. It was such a great gesture from this family that doesn’t have much and to say thank you in a very Tanzanian way.
What have you learned from your experience so far?
Life here is different than in the States, but that doesn’t mean it’s better or worse. I think our time in Tanzania has given us a unique perspective on things. Life can be stressful here in ways that are different from America. But, there are ways that life is better here, too. It’s important for everyone to examine their life, their choices, and to live with purpose.
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