December 01

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You get by with a little help from your friends

“What would you do if I sang out of tune, would you stand up and walk out on me?

Lend me your ears and I’ll sing you a song, and I’ll try not to sing out of key”

1. You get by with a little help from your friends

This opening line and title of this blog may seem like I am drawing a long bow dear reader, and I may well be doing that. But this spoke to me and seemed apt for how I feel about everything that has been achieved in the last week.

It goes without saying that The Beatles are genius, and have written so many songs that truly capture a huge variety of life’s experiences, so I should not have been surprised that I found counsel in this tune, but I was all the same.

One of my major projects in working for Cheshire Homes in the Southern African Region under the Global Alliance was to get the region to build a council and work together to be more efficient and effective in making a difference to the quality of life of a persons with disability.

I can hear my Dad saying ‘Yes, but what does that actually mean..??!”  and simply put it is getting Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Mauritius to work together, share challenges, plan strategically and be a combined force. One unified voice is more powerful than scattered different messages.

It has been an uphill battle, as the countries haven’t really worked together before, and there was no funding available to help with resources to build a Southern African Council.

It is this very point where the title  relates to my blog. Those of you who know me well will know this point about me, but those that don’t I will reveal a small fact about me: I am not necessarily the best person at asking for help. I love to be the one helping, in fact that attribute is one I persevere to have  high on my list of traits to be recognised for. But asking for it is another problem entirely.

Rather than spend the rest of this blog on a psychologists couch trying to understand why, lets fast forward and just say I have a great mentor who showed me the value in pushing past this barrier and so it was with a little embarrassment and fear that I sent out a request to my friends and family to help financially support the strategic meeting in the Southern African Region.

I was staggered at the response, in the numbers of people responding, the speed of donation and the amount given. Friends and Family, you know who you are, you are incredibly generous and I am so very humbled by your donations. “Thank you” feels like such a feeble word to signify how much your action means to me.

Hence the “You get by with a little help from your friends”, as none of what I have achieved with the regional meeting would be possible without the support I received. And by that I mean not just the financial donation, but the emotional support and the time donated in chats and check ins/welfare checks about how I am going.

This trilogy of support left me incredibly motivated to make your donations valued and the meeting a greater success than current expectations planned for.

2. What would you do if I sang out of tune, would you stand up and walk out on me?

This next line clearly captures my fear that I will fail the support that has been given to me and the cause here on two fronts;

One is that I will fail to deliver the value your efforts deserve and two is that I will not tell the story well enough for you to want to listen. I have such high standards, and the help being given here means so much that the stakes feel so high if you fall short a group of people in need will be let down.

Or that I will ramble on and miss the valuable point that the lives of people with a disability need to have some attention, need to have their quality of life improved. So if you are still reading at this point, I thank you for not walking out!!

3. Lend me your ears and I’ll sing you a song, and I’ll try not to sing out of key”

 

So this is where I get to tell you what happened:

We had attendees from South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe and the United Kingdom. As is the African way, we had a few changes last minute, and unfortunately we had Botswana pull out due to a health concern.

One of the most exciting parts, and by far the biggest impact the meeting had, was by having the Minister for Community Development, The Honourable Emerine Kabanshi MP attend.

This gave us the incredible opportunity to influence policy and awareness of the marginalised disabled community. The inclusion of a high profile government MP attracted the media and I am so proud to share with you all that a National Newspaper covered the story, quoting the minister:

”I urge non-governmental organisations, companies and other organisations to offer opportunities to persons with disabilities in order to improve their lives. I am sure that persons with disabilities, who have qualifications, can excel once given an opportunity”

This is a real need for social change towards a person with disability in developing countries.  Accessible employment opportunities are limited due to the stigma attached to disability, as well as workplaces not being physically accessible to a person with disabilities.  So having the ear of the government and have them be a passionate voice for the cause is a big win.

A point to note is that my superior’s expectations at even being able to hold a Regional Council meeting were very low, given the lack of current connection between countries being one of the barriers I faced. As I said at the start a massive barrier was removed by those that helped fund this, and also gave me some serious motivation to push through any more that came up.

The meeting last week helped build an alliance for the Southern African Region, and the council has seen the benefit of the work done so much so the first action is to fund my position moving forward to continue with the great work that has been achieved. A massive win as it is big step towards sustainability of the work done to date whilst I have been on assignment.

Upon opening the meeting Professor Rossi commented that I deserved a medal for getting this off the ground, I contest this point strongly as “I get by with a little help from my friends” and it is they who all deserve the medal.

So a public thank you for your help, motivation and generosity. And I hope that you feel the value in your donation.

I am truly humbled by your support, and that feeling will stay with me forever.

Pulse Lesson #6: You get by with a little help from your friends

Pulse Lesson #6b: The Beatles have a song for every occasion