Sunday, 25 November 2018

All the ... small things ...

I'm not going to lie.  Whilst I love Malawi it frustrates me on a number of levels. 

Whilst not a perfectionist, I like procedures and processes and things to run somewhat smoothly.  I have over time (that time is continuing as a life lesson) learnt to accept that things don't happen on time and that 'Malawi Time' like 'Islander Time' is a thing and just needs to be accepted.  Those that know me, know that I am by no means a patient person,  I continue to work on this.  Thank goodness for essential oils (frankincense particularly), deep breathing/meditation and calls from home and afar of my nearest and dearest to keep me going.

What I get frustrated at (and now humbly pay my respects and adoration for all mothers and parents out there) is having to say the same thing over and over again with no result.  Changing the language I use, demonstrating the impact , handing over ownership, reducing incentives, introducing incentives - I am nothing but innovative and resourceful. 

But many of these issues (i.e. littering, not cleaning, not seeing the wood for the trees, blind as bat - all of the possible cliches, sayings etc as well as the insane driving and no adherence to the law or rules is making me the next rally driver for sure - take on a minibus any day) are part of a culture, a way of life that has been around for years and supported and some what encouraged by Western ways. 

I am not going to get on my soap box, political rant or how 'we white people can change the world' but it has inspired me to utilise and encourage, particularly my staff, to use a wide range of communication skills to work towards small daily goals - much more achievable! A small win (e.g. the plinths are wiped down, I am told that stock is low before there is no stock etc etc) allow for small celebrations. 

These frustrations have also encouraged me to reflect on the impact I have had in the last 5 weeks.  Those that know me, know that I am not one to accept compliments or pat myself on the back, but change is change and change management is what I am in the thick of .  Combine that with language and cultural misunderstandings we are moving forward in a way that is reshaping the workplace to somewhat of its former glory.

I have however found myself saying however that I love being here and love being immersed within the culture once more and why I so emphatically enjoy this type of work.  I have reflected on why I can wholeheartedly say this despite the frustrations.

Driving to a number of places over the last couple of weeks I have taken time to breathe and to see the small things (or big things) that have kept me coming back to the 'Warm Heart of Africa' for almost 10 years.  There have been so many occasions where I wish I had pulled out my camera to capture these moments...

  • Women walking along the road, laden with wood on their head for the home, bags full of shopping and children strapped to their backs
  • Men huddled around a pool table or board game in the middle of the village
  • Children playing with hand made kites, balls and games made out of shopping bags and string
  • Goats huddled together out of the rain
  • People of all ages bathing and washing on the shores of the lake
  • A mother fish eagle teaching its young to hunt
  • Market places where the buzz of trade, colour a plenty with the women's clothing and cloth and general hustle & bustle present itself
  • Sunsets that go for miles
  • Being part of a conversation and being able to respond in Chichewa
The most humbling however that bring me back time and time again are the children , adults and families we see with disability.  Their ability to survive in a tough environment and society.  The icing on the cake is seeing their faces smile as you step out of the car straight to them to give them the traditional Malawian welcome before any one else in the community.

Malawi whilst you bring me to tears some days, some days they are tears of joy.

Image may contain: 1 person, sitting and baby

1 comment:

  1. If it helps I too have that t-shirt :)
    I learned if a meeting needed to start at 9am, to tell others it would start at 8am.
    That if I wanted to encourage innovation and initiative it was an on-going process, never something that would be embedded after a couple of instances.
    Like you, though, I keep going back because of the warmth of the welcome, the smiles on faces and the inexplicable bond between me and people who've become my friends ��������