DOING and LEARNING in Eswatini — Sustaining
One of the missions of the GSK PULSE program is to contribute real and lasting value to society through the volunteer assignments with our partners around the world. My six-month assignment is long enough to contribute value to the society in Eswatini. During my assignment, I have been thinking and observing about examples of situations when changes are lasting and sustained.
My thoughts and observations led me to notice how plants can sustain their life in unexpected situations. I noticed that a bit of grass could sustain life on a granite boulder, if there was a crack in which it could start. Given enough time the grass, with rain, frost, and sun could completely change the boulder, but it required the first little crack to start the process.
Perhaps a sustained value to society comes from starting a tiny crack. Do some GSK PULSE assignments open a crack, creating a new possibility for society? Or perhaps the value of the grass seed can only be sustained when it fits into a crack that is already waiting to receive it. Some GSK PULSE assignments may create value when they match a specific local opportunity, their crack in the boulder.
The edges of a street in Mbabane provided the inspiration for other ideas for sustaining changes. The grass growing from the sides of the sidewalk reminded me that the roots for sustaining capabilities may be in Eswatini (the AIDS prevention program of the Ministry of Health) or perhaps the roots for a future change are in my analysis background and experience.
No matter where the roots started, when the sprouts pushed into new spaces, they needed added soil to sustain their growth in the new environment. My assignment may provide some of the grains of soil to sustain what has started locally. The combination of the roots, with new sprouts, and many grains of dirt can produce a self-sustaining result.
A few days after I took this picture, I saw a crew of four men at this same location. They worked all day to remove the self-sustaining mat of roots, sprouts, and dirt. This made me realize that outside actions can erase lasting changes. Those outside actions might be war, famine, or in Eswatini the AIDS epidemic. Perhaps my assignment with the PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) demonstration project will help to bring an additional way of preventing HIV infections to Eswatini. Then AIDS will not uproot other valuable changes that are occurring in Eswatini.