In a previous post I told you about my responsibilities and tasks as an interim advisor while in Mayana. After a little over two weeks now working with the center team I am able to get more specific and tell you more about the center.
The team is led by the project manager Joseph and consists of eight volunteers: Klaus, Ratio, Peter, Daniel, Anna-Maria, Patricia, Gerhard and little Joseph. They run different programs and activities for the community in Mayana. Besides the kindergarten there are various sports activities, games club, homework club, movie nights, boys & girls club, computer classes, a library and the community office. Also there is a small garden on the premises which the whole team is supposed to take care of and which should provide fresh produce for the kindergarteners. There is also a playground and a football field as well as a netball court available.
Each team member works at the center voluntarily and is responsible to run one or more of these activities. If they have shown a lot of commitment, enthusiasm and reliability on running their activity, they can apply for a fund from MCP to finance their education.
While still in Germany and only hearing about the center I was sure that the local team has the basics about running the center and organizing, filing and documenting everything down – especially because their goal is to run the center independently as from 2017 and to use it as a source of income. I was soon to find out that this is still a long way for the local team.
On my first day Joseph and Klaus showed me around the center and premises. We also went over all their folders and I was trying to get as much information from them as possible. When asking them for a certain information or a master copy, they told me that they used to have it but don’t know anymore where it is. Basically there were no presentations or documents on how the center works or how it’s run for me to read through. Although they do have several laptops, everyone can only use them on a very basic level. So all files they ever made have been saved somewhere. So far I have been going through all the laptops and gathering the documents that are of actual use and worth keeping. Working for a company where there are forms and defined procedures for nearly everything, I soon started to value and miss things like organigrams, service centers, an organization manual, corporate designs, our intranet, shared drives, wikis and even IMS.
So one of the first tasks I took on was making a presentation about the center and the team. I sat down with everyone to write a profile on themselves and their activities. I think they really enjoy watching me working on a computer because they are very amazed by the simplest actions and all have a lot of questions about how I did this or that. I do take the time to show them, let them try it and am very patient with them but at the same time I am thinking “well, you should have the basics down first” or “when will you ever use this command” or “wonder if he will remember it tomorrow”. To overcome those challenges I have downloaded three introduction manuals for word, power point and excel for them to study. Also later they can use those for teaching computer classes to others.
Also I went over all the folders and had to realize that an order had previously been established but no one really stuck to it. So I updated all the folders together with each team member and explained to them how they have to work with them and how they can keep them updated. There were also a lot of inventories to be made. Today I had a look at their bookkeeping but so far there is no way to work on that yet. First the volunteer responsible for it will have to compile all the receipts and bank statements. But I can already tell that straightening out their books will be a huge challenge.
In general the team is very eager to learn and seems interested in exploring new procedures and getting to know new skills.
While this all doesn’t sound like we have accomplished much in two weeks, you have to keep the limited resources we have at hand in mind. There is no electricity, no internet, no shopping mall, no copy machine or printer available. If you need these services you have to take on a 30 minute trip into the town of Rundu and that easily can end up to be a full day. Furthermore I always want someone from the team to work with me so they are benefitting from my time as an interim advisor even more. What I find pretty funny though is that most of them don’t really have much time to work with me although they don’t have permanent jobs. Some of them also ask after 2 hrs if it is time to relax now. So completing a task takes much longer than it normally would at home because you not just only do it, but explain it and let them practice, too. Also you start to be more accurate with things like preparing something for printing because if you make a mistake and have to reprint that’s wasting money and resources you normally wouldn’t even think about and also you’d have to take that trip into town again.
Nevertheless I have to admit that I don’t work on a 9 to 5 base or even as many hours as at home. I’ll try to have some fun and enjoy my time in Mayana, too. 😉