Enjoying the last weeks of volunteering in Zambia
WOW… It is December, already? I can’t believe it… Time flies…But paradoxically, I have also witnessed time going through every single second as well as long moments of patience!
Both professionally and personally, I am making the best of every single minute in this marvelous country of Zambia and enjoying it as much as I can.
As I love the magic of my relationship with the local communities, I decided to go again on the field to support the team in different actions:
- Market activation with drama play to attract people in communities and keep bringing awareness of health care products and hygiene.
- Giving refresher training on health care products. With my colleague, we introduced a new way of training by doing role plays! I suggested role play by demonstrating a product to a potential customer, arguing the benefits of the toothpaste and the daily routine of teeth brushing and last but not least, putting the product in the prospect’s hands! By doing this, 50% of your sales are mostly concluded! The audience enjoyed this role play a lot which will certainly keep this moment memorable in their mind. I hope my colleagues will keep going on with this way of giving training once I will be away…
- Promotional day organized by the NGO Care in a new peri-urban area: all staff member are meeting all together in Chaisa compound to keep a booth and promote our projects, included “Live Well”! This is a great day of interaction with all other staff members as well as with a new community!
- If I take a step back on my assignment, here are my thoughts:
Building a robust supply landscape was more complicated than I thought as the market is very volatile: it is hard to agree on fixed term frame contracts with a frozen pricelist due to currency changes (most products are imported and depend on RAR South African currency evolution against dollar, therefore prices evolve on a weekly basis) as well as negotiating reliable delivery time was a challenge (transport is not always reliable, products were sometimes blocked at the customs at the airport). With strategic partners, I developed influencing skills through strategic interactions and sharing common objectives in supporting local communities in remote areas. I learned how to build better relationships with suppliers in Africa and expand on those relationships to influence suppliers in supporting us, being more reliable and providing us with free promotion materials to help brand awareness around health care products. I understood the informal exchange and strong communication with people in Africa are pillars to good and regular collaboration.
… It is TIME… TIME to say goodbye and to enjoy the last moments with community members. I developed such an emotionally intense relationship with some of the ladies that I will not be able to retain my tears. These ladies are so grateful for the support we are giving them, grateful for the empowerment and entrepreneurship skills we brought to them… I will remember this forever! It gave me such a sense of purpose in life! It is TIME to prepare closing these 6 month-brackets into my life. It is TIME to think of returning home after having developed 6 months of routine habits here in this lovely country. It is TIME to say goodbye to all my relations, my “recent” friends… This will become ephemera and this idea makes me sad … It is TIME to think how I can keep this change in my life back home…
Will I manage to return to my previous life from one day to another? No… It will have to be a smooth transition and for sure, I will not be the same anymore…
Also some personal moments… Eating local fruits (Mango, Mazuku…), enjoying a wild Enduro ride in the African bush, discovering the art of sewing local African fabrics…
Here is my change:
Prior to my Pulse assignment, I deeply wanted to discover the other side of the healthcare landscape as well as living in a different culture. Today, I have changed on both aspects. First, I now understand how we give access to health care products in remote areas in Africa. I will remember it forever as well as all the smiling faces that were so happy to receive education on health care products. I realize how local populations are in need. Also, I will bear in mind to keep things and processes simple in order to reach out the end of this supply chain more easily. Secondly, the friendliness of this culture and the different pace of work pushed me to be more open-minded, to dare trying new and creative ideas and take time to reflect on ideas before rushing on their implementation!
Video (En Mémoire: Nénette, l’héritage d’une sacrée génération) – sorry about it… but it is intended for French speaking people!