What a delightful moment when you manage to achieve your goal. Such was the excitement of the organisers of the 2016 ANLP symposium, held on 13th March 2016 at Elgro River Lodge in South Africa. Diversity is Strength: How can the ANLP 2016 Participants Advance the Nutrition Agenda was the topic of discussion among 26 participants from 13 African countries. The subject was a timely considering that the SUN Movement countries are to meet in Rio, Brazil in August this year to take stock of the progress made after the London 2013 Nutrition for Growth Summit. And to commit to continued prioritization of nutrition on the development agenda that should lead to increased domestic resources being allocated to nutrition as we strive towards achieving the World Health Assembly Nutrition Targets by 2025.
I HAD A DREAM – TODAY IT BECAME A REALITY
This is the moment I have lived, breathed and dreamed of - an email from my supervisor, Prof Shane Norris from Wits Paediatrics Department. I have passed my PhD. What a gift. I haven’t yet assimilated the news, my mind is still trying to process it all, especially as my ANLP team (the great Buffalos) and I only went to bed after four o’clock this morning, as we had to produce the ANLP newsletter for today.
“Host team of the day, now is feedback time” echoed the voice of ‘JZ Msholozi aka Igwe aka Jane’. Quickly gathering together at the specified table, we wonder what the agenda will be. We have heard about the feedback session with the team being assessed and fellow members giving one another feedback. My mind began to be bombarded with questions and emotions. What will they have to say about me? How will I take the feedback? I have, after a few days here at ANLP, made a conscious choice to receive the feedback. Why? I have realized that if I am to grow and change, then I have to be prepared to listen to how others perceive my behavior.
‘’Dinner is over, dinner is over; let’s make our way to the venue for the next session” - these were the words of our facilitators, Jane and Christine, making every effort to get 2016 ANLP participants to the venue of our first exercise after dinner on time. Instructions followed ‘’So when I say ‘bang’ ‘bang’ and I point at you, you bend with your head down and the two people standing next to you on your right and left shoot each other. The first person to do this stays in the game’’. Hmmmm I thought to myself, what is this? I can’t hear a word, thankfully our facilitator clarified with an example which was very helpful. I am not sure if he saw the worried expression on my face! And the game began - name, bang, elimination, name, bang, elimination. I must admit, it was challenging because I was still learning my fellow participant’s names, and coordinating that together with saying ‘bang’ and bending my head down, was both challenging and exciting at the same time.
Thanks to all my sponsors, I joined the 14th African Nutrition Leadership Program (ANLP) in Potchefstroom, South Africa. I arrived filled with enthusiasm and courage to learn more about leadership, myself, and network with colleagues from other African countries, as well as share experiences.
The quite, green and well preserved area of Elgro River Lodge along the Vaal River was my first WOW moment and impression. The course soon became the other one. I had attended a few leadership and management programs before. For me, the unique thing in the ANLP, is that the learning is primarily from self rather than from the outside.