I enjoy change. I am a gypsy soul at heart but from a work and career perspective I thrive on improving processes, services and ultimately client outcomes.
These last few months have not been easy.
Living in a developing country such as Malawi, being a white female is met with the obvious challenges. Throw in some change management and you have yourself a recipe of confrontation, perspective, cultural acknowledgement and acceptance and a mix of emotions all thrown in to one. However there has been glimpses of hope at the end of the tunnel. The tunnel that if negotiated appropriately over the next few years, could put Malawi's prosthetic services on a global scale.
Change does not come easy to everyone. There are those people that are quite comfortable with routine, same lunch, same job, same day to day basics and that is ok! There is no problem with that as we are all different and if there was constant change that would not work as well.
However, when there is a service for people with disabilities and movement disorders at stake, one needs to acknowledge the bigger picture, the access to healthcare and the implications for a sustainable service.
Whilst I can't go in to details here, the last few months have been a challenge both professionally and personally as I begin to re-establish my career direction, the role I play in both prosthetics and orthotics, management, international development and capacity building and what I as an individual supporting a service can physically do. What is reality when you aren't quite part of the culture but through your historical involvement are somewhat part of the furniture. Some days have literally felt like the below picture. Is it Friday yet?!
It has been a lesson in patience (clearly my life lesson to learn), humility and understanding. It has also been a lesson in how to get shit done in a less than optimal environment within a time frame. Whilst I paint a somewhat challenging picture here the benefits have also crept in.
The change in staff as they are given responsibility is starting to shine. The smile on a child's face when they walk for the first time after receiving their devices or an adult who hasn't walked for some years since their amputation to finally find their feet again and walk out of the clinic with their new prosthesis. The win of getting the hospital to pay for some stock when they haven't since the time service opened its doors 10 years ago are all positive elements of change.
The last few months have been a time of reflection and being in the open spaces that Malawi has to offer also highlighted to me the incredible opportunity I have had to be part of something amazing. The sunsets here have been nothing less than spectacular these last few months and I have been able to witness them in Lilongwe, Blantyre, Satemwa, Mangochi, Likoma and Mzuzu. The colours are incredible and photos just don't do them justice.
I also see the struggle that people with a disability have here in Malawi. Throw in the floods and cyclones experienced down south my heart goes out to them. The recent release of 'The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind' is a great tale of what life truly is like here.
The biggest reflection and change that my heart is overwhelmed with is the hug I received from beautiful Samson who has been a part of my life, as I have his, since 2009. A break through moment that I thought may never have happened. There is no other way to describe the moment other than truly blessed.
So as my time in Malawi comes to and end once again I am thankful for the challenges I have experienced here and the beauty that also comes from Malawi . Each coin has 2 sides and I think like the coins we need to acknowledge that every country, society and workplace has those 2 sides and its how we manage those 2 sides to ensure we grow from the experience that counts to enable us to create the change we want to see in this world.