Learning Journey: Perseverance and courage ushered new skills into my life

Date: July 31, 2016
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Let perseverance be your engine and hope your fuel (H.Jackson Brown Jr)

2015 – A year to reckon!

Priscilla Maposa2015 is a year that will always appear in bold print on the first page of my memory. Over the years I have been working as a Country Manager and my focus was on working hard to influence positive development on gender issues within the borders of our great country Zimbabwe. In comparison with the previous years, managing the governance programme and profiling Gender Links (GL) at country level brought me into contact with a lot of people from various fields. These people touched my life in different ways and contributed positively to my personal and professional development.

The year 2015 ushered in many responsibilities through the funding that the country office received from the Embassy of Sweden. These responsibilities made me rethink what I thought I knew and sharpened my financial management and report writing skills. Everything I was doing was focused on achieving the set objectives in order to have desired outcomes. Fortunately, the great task that appeared impossible at the onset made me realise that anything is possible if one is willing to learn. I also learnt that every association in life matters and I took the best from my team members through tapping on new skills. The action helped me to become multi-skilled and strengthened my ability to discharge my duties.

As Zimbabwe Country Manager I was expected to manage the governance programme that involved the rolling out of the Centres of Excellence (COE) programme for gender mainstreaming in local government. Other responsibilities included managing the women in Local Government Forum (WiLGF), and the Entrepreneurship programme. Management of staff and consultants, resource mobilisation at country level to ensure the sustainability of the programmes also falls within my jurisdiction. Profiling GL at country level is likewise one of my major responsibilities.

The year 2015 was unique in its own way as it saw my commitment to the COE programme boosted. The new skills I learnt including capitalising on feedback and effective planning resulted in the widening of GL’s sphere of influence from 43 to 58 COE councils across Zimbabwe. As I was brought into contact with several organisations I took it upon myself to research public relations techniques that suited the environment that I was operating in and applied them successfully. The action saw GL receiving high level political support from key ministries and major stakeholders. There was also a remarkable increase in the number of government officials like Provisional Administrators, District Administrators and Chiefs attending GL events. The positive development added value to the programme and bears testimony to the impact of GL work in Zimbabwe.

I conducted a number of field visits in 2015 to assess the impact of GL programmes. The verification exercises made me realise that despite the harsh economic environment prevailing, councils are really making efforts to implement action plans. The projects on the ground provide evidence that councils have now taken it upon themselves to mainstream gender and have taken ownership of the programme. I was taken aback by the fact that it is no longer a GL programme as some used to call it in the beginning, but everyone now has a role to play. There is also healthy competition and co-operation amongst GFPs which is quite motivating. I derived a great lesson from the verification exercise: Patience pays, since it was not an easy task running the COE programme. I also learnt that a person must focus on working hard and let good work speak for itself.

It was amazing how the Entrepreneurship programme transformed people’s lives. When the office conducted the Repeat M and E, the testimonials were quite encouraging. The women mastered the entrepreneurship skills and used them to transform their lives for the better. Some of them are now competing with established companies in the production and supply of various products to the nation. The programme changed their financial standpoints and their lives will never be the same. While going through the testimonials the great words of wisdom “Do not give men fish but give them the skills to fish” popped up in my mind. This is a great lesson that I will cascade down to many people to change lives.

Zim_Kariba Municipality field visit_ln_082015 _19__001The year 2015 saw the office running more than one programme at the same time. I assigned the Finance Officer to manage the collection of data in the field. She did her best and saved the office huge costs as she was also driving the team around. The budget was so tight and did not permit us to hire a consultant to do the “I” stories and we had to make use of interns. Special mention goes to our intern Loverage Nhamoyebonde  who managed the documentation of stories and proved beyond reasonable doubt that he was an asset to the organisation. The whole team was excellent and worked with one spirit that saw them producing positive results. As I am reflecting on my learning journey today I cannot hesitate to mention that the Entrepreneurship programme taught me that to see the potential in people, one must give them challenging tasks to do.

During the year my conflict management skills were further improved through the Women In Local Government Forum. GL managed to bring together women from both the rural and urban councils, something that is considered a milestone achievement. However, I had to deal with conflict along the way. This experience taught me that humble people always make it in life and they manage conflicts outstandingly.

Lastly, I would like to thank all those who contributed towards my learning journey. Now taking the helm of the 2016 learning journey!

Written by Priscilla Maposa, Country Manager, Zimbabwe