Two large green camping loungechairs. That’s what the XS4ALL team bought for 71-year old Klaas and his wife Sanne as a “moving in” present for the new home on the Eye for Others grounds in Ritchie. Klaas and Sanne are such kind and warm people, always willing to help. Even if they are not always able, creative or disciplined enough to do their EfO voluntary work according to our very high western expectation level.
Expectation management proved critical in the preparation of the XS4ALL team in doing their “job” in Ritchie. Ton and Antoinette trained us well in a weekend ahead of our trip though. Especially on two key skills that we sometimes underestimate the importance of: followership and improvisation.
In preparing the future leaders of Ritchie, all of us involved in training needed to not only teach them how to lead, but also teach the others -including ourselves- how to follow. Followers can make or break leaders. Followership does not come natural to most XS4ALL staff 😉
And improvisation is not only required as “what you SEE is not, and what IS you see not” as Ton always says. The work drive, planning, pace and attention to detail is also different in Africa.
The guys and girls making up “The Courageous” proved in their final presentation on Friday Nov 9th 2018 to Ton, project leader of Eye for Others, what they learned from the XS4ALL team. And their learnings had not stopped at IT skills.
“Ask, beg or wait” was replaced with “finding the answer / solution myself (on the internet) and act on it now”. The training even started at 8am sharp on the last day for the first time this week. Moreover, on the last 2 training days they had already worked on their own on the PC, turning to each other rather than always immediately to their XS4ALL trainer us for help.
Ex-convict Daniel (everybody calls him Klaas) also gave a fired-up presentation on leadership next to his ideas of making art-products from “waste” flipflops on the Friday afternoon. “Change the world, start with yourself” was convincingly part of his recovered personal credibility.
So, again, what is the answer to Africa’s many challenges? What we taught and demonstrated “The Courageous” this week is how to find answers yourselves using the internet, and act on it. And that is one of the answers for sure.
I want to finish this blog with a heartfelt word of thanks to my very dear (even if: former) XS4ALL colleages Tirza, Nick, Belinda, Eric, Lisa, Timo and Jeroen, as well as Donar and Xandra for fantastic teamwork and a wonderfull time together on the 2018 edition of “Project XS4Ritchie”.
I want to thank “The Courageous” Neil, Daniel (Klaas), Clive, Eloise, Dwight, Lorretha, Neal, Jessica and Randall for their incredible hard work and great achievement this week.
I will not forget to thank Amelia, Elbé, Lia, Klaas, Sanne, the Saxion students, Frank, Arnold and so many other active supporters of Eye for Others for all their time and effort to improve lives in Ritchie.
And finally I want to thank Ton van der Smit and Antoinette Knapen.Their drive and passion to improve the situation in Ritchie is almost inhumane. They work literally night and day with nobody paying them a salary. They sacrifice a lot of their personal space and comfort to make another step forward every day, no matter how small the progress may feel or how big the setbacks and dissapointments they face are.
To speak with Churchill: we will NEVER surrender. To speak with The Courageous: I WILL.
I love you all.