Nowhere, however, have I been as touched as I have been by the hearts of my current set of colleagues. Here are just a few of the people who have inspired me in the month and a half since I arrived in SD...
- During my first week in the office, only one member of my team was not on vacation. He and I got some good quality time in that week. He told me about his African roots and his tribal language. And he told me how much he loves taking care of paperwork and logistics as he ran off to photocopy some documents then get them signed. He works for me, but he has no shame and teases me endlessly, but his eyes betray passion and his words make us all laugh.
- One of our key support staff in the capital has only had kind words for me since the day I arrived. He's currently on leave in Siria, which is possibly my favourite country on earth. Even though he already has dozens of friends there, he asked me for advice and said he'd call my friends to greet them for me. I think it was all an excuse to get me to tell him what I want him to bring back for me. I asked for green tea and spices.
- A field officer for women's programs here in the capital is as black as a nubian raven. Her eyes sparkle and her lips shine as she goes about her day's business. One day we were waiting for a car to go to the field and she joked and negotiated with the receptionist with such ease and energy, that within minutes we were on the road in an alternate vehicle. She never says no and she never puts me down, but she knows how to express her very-strong opinions in a way that somehow still leaves me happy.
- Another member of my team is the oldest of a couple dozen kids (yup!) in an influential family. One day we were standing on the road outside the office waiting for a vehicle and, in the course of 10 minutes, at least a dozen people walked by and made a point of greeting him. But he doesn't let it get to his head. He greets them back, then gets to work doing whatever it is that needs to be done. He asks for advice and gets things done on time, he's polite and kind. But oh is he passionate. He has big dreams for helping his community and is looking to our project to get him started accomplishing those dreams.
- Our poor logistics guy has been running errands for me on a daily basis during the last week or so. I don't know how he keeps up, but he never slows down, never complains, and never delays. It's amazing to be able to count on someone like that to get the job done.
- I could write a tribute to each and every one of our drivers. They live for our beck and call, and they always joke and chat and try their hardest to please us. But I'll finish today's little tribute mentioning the driver who took it even a step further. On a routine school visit, he so happened to notice that some trees we'd planted were not being watered. Instead of eating his breakfast in the shade, as one might expect of a driver waiting for his passengers, he tracked down a community member and gave him a lecture on watering trees. Then he reported to our team and had them put together an action plan for making sure that the trees we plant are nurtured and growing.