Wales for Africa
Came in this morning to a very interesting email from John, who's already in Zambia working with one of the Forum's member charities. The email said that someone in Lusaka had asked after me. Now, initially I had the usual moment of 'oh, wonder who that is' that most people from Wales - even more so from Bethesda - get all the time. Then of course remembered that the message is from Lusaka and to my knowledge there isn't anyone even from Bethesda there at the moment (though I could be wrong). Reading on, it was just that the Forum already have my name, and so John was very kindly passing on the message that I'm expected and they're looking forward to meeting me. How amazing, to make someone feel welcome and we're not even on the same continent yet!
I'm still waiting for the specific date when I start work there. Frustrating. Although, it is becoming more and more tangible, partly perhaps because I went for my first jabs this week. Typhoid in my left arm, as that's the one that will hurt most they breezily informed me while wielding the needle, and combined Hep A&B in the other. Not too painful at all at the time, it seemed to me. To be honest I was more concerned with how I looked as I left the surgery with the fluffy ball of cotton wool taped to each arm (ridiculous, is how I looked). However, woke next morning with shoulders and upper arms stiff as a board. Followed by very mild sniffles, probably because of the typhoid jab.
I've also been filling in a questionnaire in preparation for a coaching session next week. The support for the personal development aspect of the ILO scheme is really thorough. The questions included some highly sensible ones about objectives and commitments, as well as a couple I didn't entirely understand if I'm honest. But I know I'll get help and support, which is what matters really I suppose.
Wales for Africa
I've now got all the information on my assignement and it sounds excellent - when i read it it made me smile. I'm excited but of course it's a bit daunting too, and there's certainly a lot for me to do in eight weeks, but it would be a bit pointless otherwise. The people that run the ILO programme have done a good job on the 'matching' process (I'll describe the whole application process later).
I'll be working with the Civic Forum for Housing, an umbrella organization that supports various charities working on housing and land rights issues. The Forum wants to build its profile in order to recruit more member-charities and improve its fundraising. So I'll be developing a brand with them and producing brand/profile policies and documentation - I absolutely can't wait to get stuck in.
I'll be based in Lusaka but will travel to visit the various charities, one of which is in Livingstone, which I hope (or should I say, presume) means I'll get to visit Victoria Falls. The African name for the Falls is Mosi-oa-Tunya, which means 'smoke that thunders' - name sort of says it all, really. According to my research transport across the country is neither quick nor comfortable. On my return to Wales, I think I'll be complaining a lot less about the A470.
Wales for Africa
I'm taking a huge step both personally and professionally and I'm off to Africa - Zambia, to be precise. This October and November I'll be in Lusaka, working with a forum of housing and land rights charities.
I'm one of about 15 (lucky) people from all over Wales going to Africa as part of the Assembly's International Learning Opportunities (ILO) scheme. The scheme provides development opportunites for managers from the Welsh public sector and helps Wales fulfill the UN's Millennium Development Goals as part of the Wales for Africa initiative.
At a presentation last week for people who went to Africa last year Carwyn Jones, the First Minister, talked about Wales's contribution to development in Africa. For instance Wales makes up about a quarter of all the UK's links with hospitals in Africa - we really punch above our weight when it comes to international development. I've felt many things since I found out I had a place on the scheme (excited, mostly anxious...) but listening to that speech I felt really proud.
More details will follow very soon.