Wednesday, February 5, 2014

“There is some good in this world, and it's worth fighting for.”

Even among employees and organizations that are qualified, passionate, and maintain strong values, apathy and atrophy tend to set in from time-to-time. It is a disheartening truth that impacts the quality and amount of work that is able to be done. Sometimes, when these infect a single (but key) person, the ripple effect can be great. These negative attributes, then, can lead to an under-utilization of motivated human resources or a withdrawal of those resources altogether. This is the reality I have been facing.

I have spent the last few months as a stunted version of myself. I have felt somewhat ineffectual in carrying out significant meaningful work within my primary assignment and have struggled to find a way to make a contribution within the confines outlined to me. Simply, I didn't have the freedom to create the change I wanted - and have become accustomed to - and I saw myself falling into professional doldrums.

That is not to say I have been stagnant. Besides my work for Peace Corps (as a Volunteer Leader), I have, in fact, been working on a couple large scale projects that stand to be extremely influential in the future. These include a Life Skills Toolkit and an IECD Resource Pack, both to be published and adopted by the Government of Botswana to strengthen its current National Strategies. Unfortunately, despite my dedication to these efforts, my work was constantly being put on hold in favor of, what seemed to be, waiting around for others to get motivated and involved enough to sign off on my (finished) work. This has caused me great frustration. I hold myself to a certain standard of giving back and helping others and have dedicated myself to that. Not being able to achieve to my full potential is a difficult pill to swallow, especially when you want it so badly.

Something had to be done. And now.

So I had a few conversations - conversations with colleagues that led to conversations with my superiors at Peace Corps that culminated in some very staunch heart-to-hearts with my counterparts and supervisors at my primary assignment. While the conversations were difficult, I am optimistic that positive change is on the way. Why am I so optimistic? Because I am no longer directly tethered to others within my agency so what happens next is up to me.

I am now taking over and managing a number of fairly high profile national projects and have been granted independence to build capacity of implementing partners across the country. This means I can go out in a technical capacity and work directly with the providers in the field to help them integrate and actualize programming, as well as strengthen systems and organizational capacity in order to improve service delivery. Working directly with the implementing partners is a resource and valuable experience both for me and for the organizations I now have the authority to work with. And the quality and level of my involvement is mine alone to determine, with the support of my counterpart, her supervisor, and the agency as a whole. Hallelujah! I am finally free to start making an impact  in a much more meaningful way again! Good news all around!

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