The highlight of my assignment must be the Biennial General Meeting for the region that I am working with – East Asia and Pacific Region of Cheshire Homes. It was held in Jakarta last October by the Yayasan Cheshire Indonesia and I am so lucky to have the opportunity to attend. (sorry guys, I should post this much earlier)
There are 9 countries in the East Asia and Pacific Region and around 70 delegates from Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, China, Japan, Hong Kong and Papua New Guinea attended the event. It started with a ‘cocktail’ session at the Grand Kemang Hotel, Jakarta on Friday night for all arriving guests to meet with each other. For those senior members in the organization, they were so happy to meet with old friends from the region. For new comer like me, it is great to get to know with the representatives from each country.
The best part of the event was on the next day. It was started with an opening ceremony by speeches from Mrs. Petty Elliott, president of Yayasan Cheshire Indonesia, Datin Paduka Khatijah Sulieman, chairperson of the regional council and Mrs. Tiziana Oliva, the International Director of Leonard Cheshire Disability. It was then follow by the ‘Presentation & Panel Discussion’ session with the Theme “Economic Empowerment Strategies for Persons with Disabilities in East Asia and the Pacific”. Representatives from each country presenting and sharing their best practice, key learning, future projects and challenges to all participants from the region. To make the session more interactive, the floor was open to questions and comments after each country presentation. I personally think that this is the most important session during the meeting where everyone was so excited and motivated to learn and make the best use of the experiences that were shared. It definitely has a big impact to the communities we serve if everyone can adopt the best practices and apply strategically back to own country.
At the last part of the meeting, I have done a presentation to the regional council members on how to use an internal website and its benefit to them and to the organization. The website aims to strengthen our Cheshire global alliance members’ communication by providing a platform for them to meet, exchange ideas and share their experience. It’s also providing latest news, funding opportunities and resources in the disable world. I also encourage all the participant to register and start using the website by providing each of them a user guide that I prepared. 🙂 I feel so rewarding as 5 out of 9 counties from the region were registered after this.
The event ended with a tour to Wisma Cheshire Homes and the National Museum the next day.
Before attending to this event, it was very challenging for me to be connected with the Cheshire members via email. I hardly get any respond and this was one of my biggest challenge during my assignment. And I realized things change after this event. My experience told me that face to face is very important in building trust and relationship for an effective communication. We cannot just sit in front of the computer and expect everything can be done with the keyboard. A lot of time we need to ‘go and see’. This action is not only providing us the chances to understand a situation but also building relationship and credibility at the same time where I think are equally significant to the problem solving process.