Friendship Formula

“Friendship ... is born at the moment when one man says to another "What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .” (C.S Lewis)

ANLP can be described in one word…INTENSE. Intense activities, intense challenges, intense growth, intense fun. Many team activities that will stretch you, sometimes bringing out both the best and worst in you.

On the second day of ANLP, Team Lion was tasked with coordinating the activities of the whole day. A group of perfect strangers from Kenya, Morocco, Liberia, Zimbabwe, Cameroon and Uganda, were tossed into a bowl together and expected to produce a Pan-African salad. High pressure activities + a group of strangers + sleep deprivation normally equals a recipe for disaster but somehow we pulled off our assigned task. As fate would have it, a week later we found ourselves in the same position- hosting another day’s activities. We were ten times more sleep deprived, a hundred times more exhausted, but were somehow able to have infinite times more fun. As a team, over the past week we have argued and debated, shared life stories and experiences, laughed and cried together. The more we understood each other the more we listened and empathised. We learnt how to laugh at each other and also learnt how to laugh at ourselves. Where we initially hesitated, we initiated and where a few days prior we would have assumed, we now ventured to ask.  As we draw near the end of the programme it is evident that for us high pressure activities + a group of strangers + sleep deprivation has been a recipe for friendship.

The friendships formed in ANLP extend beyond our allocated teams. At the start of the programme, we arrived as individuals, some bound by their countries and others by their work. However today as I watch the group shuffle out of the door for dinner, I notice the natural way we gravitate towards each other, moving in clusters towards the dining room.   I feel that we have developed a unity of purpose from helping each other overcome the physical and mental barriers we encountered each time we were mercilessly nudged (kicked!) out of our comfort zones.  Bonds born out of the realisation that we are in this together. Friendships that in many cases started with the sentence "What! You too?”, but gradually evolved into some of the most authentic of human interactions. 

REFLECTIONS OF A VILLAGE BOY

This is the perspective of a hopeful African herd boy from Hurungwe, in Zimbabwe experiencing ANLP 2018. The time spent here has opened my eyes to the beauty of the work that I do as a nutritionist and yet was naive to the great potential I hold to influence. To be a source and maintainer of life through my actions in the nutrition field and beyond, just like the Vaal river. The Vaal river meanders through the hills, mountains, valleys and plains stretching for a couple hundred kilometres of South Africa land. The area is rugged in some places, plain and yet beautiful in many other places. The Vaal river is always at peace with itself providing and maintaining life in and around it, holding such promise and opportunity to those who have been initiated in it.

As I reflect on the side of the mountain I listen to the well-choreographed, drilled choir of the river and its surroundings. Cattle mooing from a distance and evoking a feeling of home, an internal self long lost in the reserves of my memory and my country, Zimbabwe.  Thinking of what could have been, but thankfully I dared to change the script and here I am. The sun is setting and going back to its mother, having done its part in lighting our day and path. I hold hope and conviction that these 10 days spent on the shores of Vaal river, have opened my eyes and ears to the calling and potential I hold to be a leader and an advocate for nutrition. If theory must translate to practice, then where else should I start than here and now. Growth and development is a life long journey only for those willing to ride and face whatever comes their way.

I have been reborn in my profession, only lessons and positive thinking has been embedded while being charmed by the enthusiasm and energy transmitted from the facilitators and ANLP participants of 2018.

Reflections of an African Village boy whilst on top of the mountain with mosquitoes singing forcing the writer to have some hand dance to catch them with less success at it.

Arthur Pagiwa (ANLP, 2018)

RISING ABOVE THE STORM

You know, I had come to ANLP at the peak of a confidence crises, being bombarded by a constant flow of cynicism, criticism and mounting self-doubt. During the past few days at ANLP, I can literally relate to an unpolished, rough wooden plank that is secured to a carpenter’s worktable, ready to be polished. The smoothing and shaping process has not been so comfortable. Session after session has brought enlightenment and unveiled things I did not know about myself, but boy oh boy, it has been so worth it! I have increasingly become aware of my competencies, the things I need to work on in my life, more importantly accepting positive feedback and working on it.

Now, I feel like a different person ready for the vast possibilities out there. I am ready to lead from where I stand. Now, I feel like a liberated bird, a diamond being polished daily, and I look forward to what the coming days and years brings. I am learning that making changes one step at a time can lead to unimaginable possibilities. I look forward to enjoying this journey of life and leadership, while abiding by the 6th Rule which says “don’t take yourself so seriously” :-) 

~ Eunice Berko Nartey and Gugulethu Moyo (ANLP, 2018)

 

The Gift of Feedback

Giving and receiving feedback is a skill which I have always found hard to exercise. ANLP has been a safe place for us participants to learn how to give and more importantly receive feedback on our behaviour and performance. In the real world, most of us feel intimidated and scared when it comes to negative feedback. We start to think thoughts such as, “maybe this person does not like me” and “someone wants to take my position”. The sessions on leadership provided the skills we need to communicate unpleasant feedback and participants gradually became more brave and confident when receiving feedback from others.

An example of this was the Impromptu Speech Session that we had as a group. Each participant was given twenty-two minutes to prepare and deliver a presentation and then received constructive feedback from the audience. Comments ranged from “great voice projection” and “good command of content”, all the way to “your presentation was not well structured” and “what was the point of your presentation”. The good thing was that we had been taught how to give tough feedback in an easy to digest manner. Feedback was structured in terms of what the presenter should start, stop and keep on doing. Given the way the feedback was packaged; the group was receptive to even critical feedback.

ANLP is a judgement-free space, where people could trust the motive and authenticity of the feedback they were receiving. Being able to return home and create such an impartial environment within our work environment will be a step in the right direction, to improving the quality of feedback we can receive and give to the people we lead. More importantly, we learnt that there is usually more positive than negative feedback to give.

BY: Janeth Said and Gugulethu Moyo

Networking: An essential ingredient to scale-up nutrition.

I am from Senegal and French is my first language. It took travelling across the continent, all the way to South Africa, for me to learn valuable lessons about the importance of engaging the business and private sector in my work back at home. The ANLP networking café was the coming together face to face, of people from different countries, cultures, religions and languages. I talked to colleagues from Morocco, USA, France, Ethiopia and India. My interview with Navneet, a nutritionist from New Delhi currently working for a pharmaceutical company, was an eye opening discussion about how we all need to change the way we work at all levels. Let us stop working in silos. We must all champion a collaborative approach. If we continue to work alone, we will not have impact. The ANLP networking café has proven the necessity of talking together for engaging all stakeholders like the business. We have to work with business, because at times they are the ones with the machinery to make things move.  This realization was an AH-HA moment for me.

I have learnt that when I return to Dakar, I need to make more noise about nutrition by bringing stakeholders together. Everybody needs good food and nutrition, but our noise is still too low. I feel that this opportunity to interact with Navneet and exchange ideas has ignited something in me that will help me move the nutrition agenda forward. It is true when they say that “iron sharpens iron”. Networking and talking to people is definitely the best way to go.

By Bineta Ndiaye and Gugulethu Moyo

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