Conquering the impossible

Travelling to developing country is not that easy when there are multiple things to adapt to including safety, diseases, hygienic conditions and all the new cultures.

For example when you say I will go hiking to the widest mountain in the world and the 2nd highest in Africa (mount Kenya)… it possible however that you do not know if you will be exposed to acute mountain sickness at the high altitude of 16,000 feet – it was very hard climbing the mountain, 66 km walk for 4 days and climate change between including sunny, snow and rains ….. Here I am asking myself, will I conquer the impossible ?

6 months ago I travelled to Nairobi as a 2015 PULSE volunteer, working as a Fundraising Volunteer working for LCD Leonard Cheshire Disability, north-eastern African office.

A lot of thoughts were in my mind at that time, a lot of facts about volunteering and its benefits to me, my family, my company and my community and a lot of hard challenges.

I begun to ask myself many questions – Will I be conquering the impossible? Will my current skills and knowledge help to make it? Will I learn new skills? And even, will it advance my career? Will volunteering also help to protect my mental and physical health, as a lot of scientific theories suggested?
My assignment objectives were:
1-To facilitate the development of a regional fundraising plan. To identify potential donors and partners that fund charity projects in the areas of disability, health, livelihoods, education or campaigning. This would include an overview of information on application processes and deadlines
2-The development of a staff training & learning framework focusing on the skills and competencies needed for fundraising.

I will now share with you my reflections for the last 6 months, focusing on 3 aspects :


New Communities
1- Building relationship is the key for Kenyan people

Developing strong sustainable relationships is essential to success—this is true anywhere in the world. The Kenyan culture is especially built on relationships and handshakes. Every time you meet someone, a colleague, a friend, or a stranger you shake hands and say Jambo, Habari  yako? Which translates to, “Hello, how are you?”

2- I have often found that Kenyan’s always want to please the people they are working with and as a result, they will often give the answer that they think a person wants to hear, rather than addressing the reality of a situation. This can make things challenging, but this challenge by building relationships also builds confidence so that working relationships become more open.

3- Pole pole Kiswahili means (slowly slowly)
“You have watches, we have time. We are not in a hurry. We can wait”– Kenyan Proverb . Pole pole – however this phrase conveys more than just the direct translation. It means to take things slowly, steadily and allow things in life to come to you.

Workplace NGO and my assignment objectives:
Here I will share with you how my skills, knowledge and GSK expectations helped me to change others and achieve my objectives:
1- Work style
Sure it was different from GSK culture to work for an NGO (it seemed much more relaxed), however your attitude and flexibility can make the difference and raise the bar. Building relationships helped me a lot to change two of the employees mindset that time is very important.

2- Set direction and inspire
An important GSK expectation I applied during my assignment – as this was at the core of my assignment objectives because the cause of the problem at LCD was the lack of potential donors – they instead depend only on one donor.
3- Working across boundaries
Another GSK expectation reflected positively in the aim to achieve my objective as I worked in very small team, with only 5 members (Admin, Hr, Finance, another volunteer and my manger) – so working with every team member was crucial in cultivating a network of collaborative relationships based on mutual trust and so helped me a lot to achieve the objective within the time constraints.

4- ADP (problem solving)
Applying the root cause analysis (Fishbone analysis) to show the root cause at LCD Kenya included (right mapping of the potential donor) – I succeed to map 70 potential donors between foundations, corporate and institutional and also with a brain storming session we concluded it to 47 donors.



Top 10 potential donors

5- My Gsk knowledge dealing wilth HCP at gsk
Helped to cluster and targeting those 47 donors with matrix to identify the most potential class A …then class B and finally class C donor on a timeline to approach this will help LCD to have long term sustainable plan for donors approach for funds


1- Cooking
I have never been to the kitchen before this assignment now I cooked more than 5 dishes shared  me this trial my colleague Qutiba abd Manaseer

2- Hiking
Despite of I did not used to hike before at Egypt but am succeeded to get to the top of the highest mountain at Kenya 16000 feet altitude

Finally i want to say a huge thank you to my family specially my wife for the awesome, support and encouragement i have had every step of the way. I am so grateful also for my team whom was responsible to complete the journey to close the years without me, great thanks for my friends ,my boss who allowed me to get this chance and last not least my pulse volunteers at Nairobi team(Q7,Alicia and Karo)
I feel very lucky to have had this opportunity and hoping that I added value to this communities and and the company i have worked with have benefited from my work I really have had an amazing time and though i am looking forward to going home i know i will miss Kenya and the people i have been fortunate to meet here. Being here has taught me a lot and in many ways changed me a lot and i will always be grateful for that.

Now we come to the most important role for the assigmnt (Re Entry)  and what the impact of what i have seen and learned on home country and gsk

wait me the next blog to see the reflections!!!!




  1. Very true description of the challenges in Kenya. But you really inspired me Mahmoud with your sense of mission and persistence to achieve your goals.
    Regarding food..That was awesome 🙂

  2. I am very proud to have a boss like you
    We closed the last year by your spirit , teamwork that we learnt from you and support from you although you were abroad
    We are waiting to tell us your experience in your journey
    Welcome back our friend and boss

  3. I am very proud to have a manager like you
    We are waiting to tell us your experience in your journey
    Welcome back our friend

  4. All of our team are proud to have amazing poss like you Dr.Mahmoud and before areal friend .. I always learn from you ..waiting to learn more especially after this successful pulse volunteer. god bless you and good luck.

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