I have been extremely lucky to recently visit a Pulse colleague in a neighbouring African country who is working with the same NGO as I am
We were both very excited as we were initially due to be deployed together but for various reasons this did not work out and so a very kind invitation was extended for me to visit. This is the first time that two Pulse volunteers working in separate countries, but for the same NGO, have had a cross functional experience and so we both wanted to make the most of the occasion.
I arrived on a Saturday evening, excited and full of anticipation to experience and talk to people doing similar work with similar programmes. On Monday, I travelled out to the rural hospital, where a tour of the hospital, wards and pharmacy showed what a good job everyone is doing in a busy environment. I also went on a home visit to meet a family benefiting from one of the NGOs community programmes. One of their great ideas is to provide seeds and small farm animals to families and small co-ops, teaching them to grow vegetables and to farm enabling them to not only feed the family but develop a small business selling any surplus produce. I also met with key operations people and visited the NGO’s warehouse in the hope that we could share best practice, initiate collaborations and generally look at ways to see if there were opportunities to work together.
On Tuesday, I was fortunate to be able to take a day off and visit the local National Park. We arrived about 6.30am and were rewarded for our early start with the sight of a heard of water buffalo! During the day, I was lucky enough to see baboons, fish eagle, lots of water bucks, antelope, lots of hippos and even one out of the water, Nile crocodiles, Wart hogs, Giraffes (so close I could almost touch them!) and Zebra.
We stopped for our packed lunch by a lake full of hippos and behind us a water hole with lots of Zebras! I was the envy of everyone when I saw a leopard (very rare) and the legendary but solitary bull elephant who is this oldest on the park but apparently can be very grumpy!
On Wednesday, it was back to work, and I met with individuals from the procurement and finance teams, again exploring opportunities to share best practice and seek chances to work together
On Thursday, I visited a flagship cancer hospital in the scenic northern province which was beautifully located, with lovely gardens.
Again, I learnt about the great work being done, challenges they still face, and was show plans to expand both the facilities and services provided
All too soon my time ended and I was heading back to my own assignment but with renewed motivation and anticipation. Through my visit, we have initiated collaborations and made introductions that will hopefully persist and bring real benefit to ensure the great work of the NGO continues to flourish.