Sunday, October 12, 2008

Wrapping Things Up

I’m down to my last couple of days in Swaziland, and have been spending some time wrapping up work, saying goodbye to colleagues and friends, and preparing for a few of weeks of travel which lie ahead. It’s been a great four months, and September – in which I neglected to write much on this blog – was especially enjoyable. It was then that I started to really appreciate the work for the project which I’ve helped move forward (not as much as I had hoped, but enough to see a marked difference), the community of both Swazis and expats that I’ve feel into, and the relaxed life here in the Swaz. (September, incidentally, is a good month for the working man in Swaziland, as we only had one full 5-day workweek due to a number of holidays.) Yesterday was a milestone for The Business Place, as renovations started on the building where TBP will be housed later this year. To mark the occasion, last Friday we held a braai – or BBQ – at the building and a bunch of colleagues from TechnoServe and TBP’s partners came out to help celebrate. Our contractor was there as well, and he brought a sledgehammer for us to take a couple of ceremonial swings on some of the walls that we’re knocking down. (We barely made a dent, as it’s an old building with concrete reinforced walls.) It took a lot to get to the point where we were able to start the construction process, and I’m glad that it happened before my time here is up.

A bunch of TechnoServe colleagues came out to the braai, which was in Big Bend, about 120 kilometers outside of Mbabane. It felt good to include them – I have learned a lot about the work of the horticulture, feed and livestock, handcrafts, business plan competition, and youth entrepreneurship teams in the office, and have collaborated with a few of them. But Sabelo – the Executive Director that we hired last month (a well-connected SME champion and Swazi patriot) to take over the project – and I haven’t had a product to show. Bringing everyone together at the site and giving a short of the building took steps towards that.

I still have a number of loose ends to wrap up before leaving on Wednesday, and am sure that I will have some thinking to do after that. From my experience with my last couple of jobs – with Bike & Build and at Accent – it takes some time after I’ve been away from my work to realize and appreciate what I’ve learned and accomplished. I hope to add some of my thoughts here in a few weeks.

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