It seems like most organizations, or some at least, have two… three… five… ten… fifty-year plans these days. One of our goals at Kusamala within the next few months is to go through a strategic planning process, which will include our own five-year plan. That is if things ever slow down enough for us to take a breath!
But for me, personally, five years is just a bit too far off and scary to contemplate. However I am proud to announce that I now have a solid one-year plan! Perhaps the most set, long-term life plan I’ve had since the Peace Corps! Get out the confetti!
As promised in a previous blog post, here is my life update. At least for 2013…
I will be spending yet another year in Malawi! Yes, that’s right, my initial six-month commitment has now become two years. When I decided to return to Southern Africa, I had thought that I didn’t want to spend so much time in a region that I already knew fairly well (thank you Peace Corps). My original plan had been to travel to new places, buff up my Spanish, and to farm a bit.
However at Kusamala I’ve been able to create something that exactly fits my life or, more specifically, my career goals. From commercial garden manager, a position I enjoyed but didn’t really relate to what I wanted to do in life, I was able to transition into the program manager role, a position I helped create as we grew and began to need more and more support for our projects and programs.
Now, I will be handing over all of my commercial garden responsibilities and focusing full time on project, program, and organizational development. I will be working closely with our Executive Director to create and implement new projects. At the same time I will continue to manage our intern and volunteer program and oversee our communications strategy. Perhaps most interestingly, I will also have a voice in the direction of the organization and our overall strategic plan as we continue to grow and expand.
Just last week we turned in a three-year project proposal to USAID, the largest in our organization’s history, on which the Executive Director and I were the lead authors. This coming week we will be beginning the brainstorming process for an even larger grant application to the Scottish government. If even one of those grants comes in it will be huge for Kusamala, not just in terms of organizational sustainability and funding, but also in terms of increasing our reach and impact throughout Malawi.
On a personal level this has been a very exciting time as I’ve gotten to implement much of what I learned theoretically in grad school (thank you MIIS!). However this time what I was writing was not mere numbers and abstractions. It was about people, activities, and challenges that have a very real, tangible meaning to me. It was about problems and solutions that I see every day.
It’s a very exciting time for the organization with the potential to have a huge, lasting impact. Already through our staff trainings we have seen people implementing permaculture around their homes and these potential projects with USAID or the Scottish Government could significantly expand our work to more rural communities.
Of course funding is always fickle, and both could fall through. Even if that were the case, the other projects we have going now would be enough to convince me to stay. As you might be able to tell from previous blog posts, I truly believe in what our organization is doing.
Plus the two months off I’ve negotiated in December and June, the potential title bump, and two years of experience with non-profit/project management on my resume don’t hurt!