Kate Martin

Kate Martin

Mozambique (VSO Canada), Tanzania (VSO Canada), Tanzania

2001-2005, 2005-2007, 2007-2009

One could say that all roads in Kate Martin’s life have led her to Africa, where she found her true passion: giving Maasai girls the opportunity to learn. 

As a young teacher in the early 1960s, Kate Martin taught English to new Canadian adults. In fact, she and a small team of colleagues developed what would become the basis for the English as a Second Language (ESL) training program for the rest of Canada.

In the mid-70s, she brought her ESL teaching skills to a secondary school where she taught new Canadian teenagers.

“Going to Nepal with my sister in 1998 was my first experience seeing how the underprivileged lived or attempted to live,” recounted Martin. “I was bitten. I looked at my newly arrived students and thought there’s so much I don’t know about their lives.”

As soon as she retired in 2001, Martin looked for a posting to teach English abroad. She joined VSO Canada and travelled to Mozambique to teach University Education faculty students how to teach English. She eventually ended up in Tanzania where she found her true passion, the Emusoi Centre for Pastoralist Girls.

“In Tanzania, girls run away from their homes after Grade 7 to escape forced marriage,” says Martin. “Hundreds of girls turn up at Emusoi because they know an education is their way out.”

Martin says she has one takeaway from her time in Tanzania: joy.

“Meeting those girls has led me to re-evaluate everything in my life based on what I learned from them,” says Martin. “All of us who come back say the same thing: we learned more than we could ever possibly teach.”