Monday, 16 May 2011

So what on earth has Andy been doing apart from clogging up hospitals?

Well, I was brought out here by VSO to work on the Cadbury Cocoa Partnership (CCP) with two main roles:
1. Train VSO’s own project manager to plan and deliver the project and improve the management systems
2. Train the staff in the district partners – Departments of Community Development, Co-operatives, CocoBod (the Cocoa Board) and the Ministry of Farming and Agriculture
Pretty soon after getting here I feared that role 1 (which should have taken up 80% of my time) was not going to go anywhere. There’s very little I can say about this online given that VSO Ghana’s future relies significantly on these types of projects.
Having spent three months trying to find different ways to approach the problems that I was here to address, I made the decision in December to stop and look forward. Through a combination of disappointment and illness, I’d been pretty down about the whole experience and had begun to spend a lot of time moaning about the situation and finding it difficult to see a way forward with the work.
Come December I stopped blaming and started taking ownership for resolving it. First by telling VSO I would no longer continue with Role 1. I think I’d made some minor progress with that role, but if I’d stayed here for 10 years I was never going to be able to tackle the fundamental issues that needed to be looked at – problems that have now bred wider problems – unless things a lot bigger than me changed, so it was therefore time to cut my losses.
Since then, my CCP focus has been wholly on helping the project’s district partners to identify their own training needs and to deliver one or two elements before leaving. Just as I was making progress on both, unfortunately I was sent home for some r & r which delayed things still further, although it opened up new opportunities that arguably have been the most rewarding aspects of the working experience. I’ll blog separately these, but I just wanted to give a bit of context first.
I learned some pretty valuable lessons in all this. Trust my gut instinct and act on it – it’s usually better than my reasoned judgement and it’s certainly quicker to come to the fore. There is always another way, so don’t be scared to take a leap even if that looks like failure to begin with. Recognise the importance of doing something you enjoy and that others appreciate and benefit from. The poential in great people is always there, you just need to be open to seeing it and them.
The last one I’ve only realised recently, looking back at how massively better working life in Ghana looks through the lens of having achieved things and as a result of having met some brilliant proactive, enthusiastic, passionate personalities along the way in people I didn’t see them in before.
Later I’ll blog a bit more about some of the bits and bobs I’ve been up. I'll also try to persuade Lucy to take up her quill...

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