Saved by the bell

By Efua Owusu- Ansah

The 19th ANLP officially ended on the 20th of March, 2020. The participants who were left said their goodbyes to the facilitators and organizers. This was after the backdrop of having a stressful week with the news of the global COVID-19 pandemic and soaring death rate. Sodey, my colleague from Ghana, and I were to fly back to our country on that faithful Friday, 20th March 2020 at 5 pm South African time. The president of Ghana had previously announced that non-citizens traveling to Ghana from countries where the Covid-19 cases were higher than 200 would not be admitted into the country. There were also threats of closing all borders to the country for all flights as well. The flight for some of our colleagues had already been rescheduled; no news of any cancellation yet. All participants moved from Potchefstroom to Johannesburg to wait for our time for check-in at the Dove’s Guesthouse.

Our check-in time was getting close so Sodey and I left for the airport, her husband had already checked-in for her online so I was left to do mine at the airport. Some few seconds from the guest house, Sodey had a message that our flight had been canceled.! Whhaaaat?? No panicking, God is in control, what was the worst-case scenario? These were the words we exchanged amongst ourselves as we were directed to still go to the airport and find out whether we can transfer.

We arrived at the airport to inquire if we can transfer only to be told that, South African Airlines was not transferring, but they will reimburse us later when we request it. Hhhhmmmm! What can and should we do? Thank God for the efficiency and professionalism of Ronel who came to our rescue. Ronel asked us to check with Ethiopian Airlines if we could get a flight to Ghana. The airport was filled with hundreds of people who were also anxious to get to their home countries. I did not have enough money on me to buy a The 19th ANLP officially ended on the 20th of March, 2020. The participants who were left said their goodbyes to the facilitators and organizers. This was after the backdrop of having a stressful week with the news of the global COVID-19 pandemic and soaring death rate. Sodey, my colleague from Ghana, and I were to fly back to our country on that faithful Friday, 20th March 2020 at 5 pm South African time. The president of Ghana had previously announced that non-citizens traveling to Ghana from countries where the Covid-19 cases were higher than 200 would not be admitted into the country. There were also threats of closing all borders to the country for all flights as well. The flight for some of our colleagues had already been rescheduled; no news of any cancellation yet. All participants moved from Potchefstroom to Johannesburg to wait for our time for check-in at the Dove’s Guesthouse. 
Our check-in time was getting close so Sodey and I left for the airport, her husband had already checked-in for her online so I was left to do mine at the airport. Some few seconds from the guest house, Sodey had a message that our flight had been canceled.! Whhaaaat?? No panicking, God is in control, what was the worst-case scenario? These were the words we exchanged amongst ourselves as we were directed to still go to the airport and find out whether we can transfer.
We arrived at the airport to inquire if we can transfer only to be told that, South African Airlines was not transferring, but they will reimburse us later when we request it. Hhhhmmmm! What can and should we do? Thank God for the efficiency and professionalism of Ronel who came to our rescue. Ronel asked us to check with Ethiopian Airlines if we could get a flight to Ghana. The airport was filled with hundreds of people who were also anxious to get to their home countries. I did not have enough money on me to buy a new ticket so Sodey topped up for me to buy my ticket for the 11 pm flight through Addis Ababa to Ghana (I am not sure whether I have shown enough gratitude to Sodey for being a God sent angel that day). I believe that day, I did over 15,000 steps from walking back and forth in the airport. My green coloured passport was turning to white from over sanitization (one can never be too cautious you know). 
Whiles waiting for Dove’s guest house bus to pick us up after buying our tickets, we saw an ambulance park a few feet from us, waiting for a patient with COVID-19 to be sent to the hospital; you can imagine our faces. We finally joined our other colleagues at the guest house to wait for our flight at 11 pm.
The journey from Johannesburg through Addis Ababa saw us strictly following all the protocols for the prevention of COVID-19 (we brought our face masks down for the picture; this does not still make it right though). We stuck together with each step of the way. Praise be to God we arrived safely in Ghana on the 21st of March. All passengers were asked to join queues where our temperatures were checked on monitors. When it got to my turn, guess what? Mine read 38.5 degrees Celsius, red! Alarm! No, this can’t be true; I am stressed out. I was asked to move to another monitor which now read 35 degrees Celsius, whew!! I had to take another flight to Kumasi where I live, we all got home safely. Due to all the adrenalin, I felt dizziness and body pain; I thought I had been infected. To God’s glory, Sodey tested twice for COVID-19, and they were all negative. I made the inference that if she was negative, I was (that is not always the case). We narrowly escaped being mandatorily isolated; all passengers on subsequent flights were all isolated for 10-14 days and tested. God saved us. We all joined our families and are still staying safe.
What are the lessons? One never despises the experiences God has sent you through. Through-out the ANLP, we were exposed to how we can make the best of every moment for our good, being positive and from Johann’s voice and words, “it should be for the greater good of those surrounding you”. Other colleague participants also spiced most of our experiences with a lot of laughter (thank you, Christine, and Sheila). My conversations with Christine (one of my accountability buddies) in particular was filled with our testimonies of how God took us through situations when we didn’t have hope.
Secondly, God’s divine plan is there for us. However, we need to use wisdom to follow the rules set for our safety.
Lastly and most importantly, staying positive despite the odds pays off big time; Afterall there is the law of attraction (Apostle Paul in the bible said that; what I feared has come to me). What then do I have to lose staying positive? I will smile my way out of every challenge.
Stay tuned for my perspectives on the experiences of my colleagues.
new ticket so Sodey topped up for me to buy my ticket for the 11 pm flight through Addis Ababa to Ghana (I am not sure whether I have shown enough gratitude to Sodey for being a God sent angel that day). I believe that day, I did over 15,000 steps from walking back and forth in the airport. My green coloured passport was turning to white from over sanitization (one can never be too cautious you know).

Whiles waiting for Dove’s guest house bus to pick us up after buying our tickets, we saw an ambulance park a few feet from us, waiting for a patient with COVID-19 to be sent to the hospital; you can imagine our faces. We finally joined our other colleagues at the guest house to wait for our flight at 11 pm.

The journey from Johannesburg through Addis Ababa saw us strictly following all the protocols for the prevention of COVID-19 (we brought our face masks down for the picture; this does not still make it right though). We stuck together with each step of the way. Praise be to God we arrived safely in Ghana on the 21st of March. All passengers were asked to join queues where our temperatures were checked on monitors. When it got to my turn, guess what? Mine read 38.5 degrees Celsius, red! Alarm! No, this can’t be true; I am stressed out. I was asked to move to another monitor which now read 35 degrees Celsius, whew!! I had to take another flight to Kumasi where I live, we all got home safely. Due to all the adrenalin, I felt dizziness and body pain; I thought I had been infected. To God’s glory, Sodey tested twice for COVID-19, and they were all negative. I made the inference that if she was negative, I was (that is not always the case). We narrowly escaped being mandatorily isolated; all passengers on subsequent flights were all isolated for 10-14 days and tested. God saved us. We all joined our families and are still staying safe.

What are the lessons? One never despises the experiences God has sent you through. Through-out the ANLP, we were exposed to how we can make the best of every moment for our good, being positive and from Johann’s voice and words, “it should be for the greater good of those surrounding you”. Other colleague participants also spiced most of our experiences with a lot of laughter (thank you, Christine, and Sheila). My conversations with Christine (one of my accountability buddies) in particular was filled with our testimonies of how God took us through situations when we didn’t have hope.

Secondly, God’s divine plan is there for us. However, we need to use wisdom to follow the rules set for our safety.

Lastly and most importantly, staying positive despite the odds pays off big time; Afterall there is the law of attraction (Apostle Paul in the bible said that; what I feared has come to me). What then do I have to lose staying positive? I will smile my way out of every challenge.

Stay tuned for my perspectives on the experiences of my colleagues.

Sodey and I at the Kotoka International airport

 

Roller coaster experience

By: Efua Owusu- Ansah (Ghana)

Since this week started, the atmosphere around the meeting places at Elgro River Resort for the 19th ANLP participants changed. We got the news that the borders of most countries are being closed because of Covid 19. The president of South Africa also delivered a nation address on Sunday, 15th of March announcing the total number of cases recorded in the country to be sixty-one (61) as well as measures put in place for control. Some participants of the program had to hurriedly arrange to go home as soon possible. The fear of being affected, the fear of not being allowed to enter your own country, the fear of being quarantined, the fear of being quarantined with people from elsewhere who’s exposure to the disease may have been more than yours…… the fear goes on and on.

After an exciting time on Tuesday with the Mpho and Thabo Putu, in relation to advocacy and lobbying, people started smiling again. These brothers really know their stuff and they showed us why they come from Soweto. They are purposeful in the course for positive change in many areas for the benefit of the vulnerable and marginalized.

By evening time, all hell broke loose again, our Cameroonians sisters couldn’t help but be super concerned that their country is not allowing any aircraft to land. Should we book a flight for 3 am, should we call the ambassador to our country, should we rebook or buy a new ticket? These were the questions we all joined in to help. The uncertainty is the main issue, so much negative stress!

Dear Cory

By Monica Muti (Zimbabwe)

Cory, dear Cory, from whence camest thou? When I think of you, I think of fear, panic and pandemonium. I cough, everyone flees. Some people give me the evil eye. Others suggest I go and be tested. You have created enemies for me. You have even made me an enemy of my own self. I no longer feel comfortable in my own skin.

In my short professional life, I have never seen any disease cause so much discomfort, misinformation, myths and misconceptions. I have seen cholera come and go. I have met typhoid who just decided to cause a little havoc, go into hiding and appear here and there. None of them has caused so much pandemonium as you.

The mountain of hope

By Marlyne Mananga (Cameroon)

Mother Theresa once said: “Kind words can be short and easy to speak but their echoes are truly endless”.

Saturday was a stimulating and passionate day for me. It started with a voice relaxation exercise. Then it was the great moment of stress, that is, four minutes of presentation in front of my colleagues and trainers after planning and practising for ten minutes.  Jane wanted to give me a heart attack! The purpose of the exercise was to convince the audience on a specific topic based on an outline that is to be followed by all presenters with the aim of making us good communicators.

The flight that helped me discover myself

By: Sheila Kilonzi (Kenya)

It is a good programme, you will not regret it’ exclaimed my supervisor when I sought his opinion about applying for the African Nutrition Leadership Programme. I applied and I was selected. But there was a problem – where were the funds to attend the programme going to come from? ‘Don’t worry funds will be found – apply wherever you can’ said my supervisor in a relaxed mode. Seeing his determination, to have me attend the programme, the importance of attending dawned on me. Considering this was coming from a person who has walked with me and understands my capabilities, I gave finding the funds the seriousness it deserved. Finally, I managed to pay the training fee and booked a flight ticket.

Leaving my work and a recuperating mother behind, I headed off - destination Elgro River Lodge via Johannesburg. I said to encourage myself ‘God never does anything without a purpose’. In a couple of hours, I landed amidst fears of COVID 19, and in the next day, I found myself staring at the famous Elgro River Lodge. Surrounded by twenty-three other participants from eleven countries, I wondered what the next ten days were going to hold. A big smile and a warm hug from Jane assured me of great things to come. From within, a voice was telling me that I was here for change, so I needed to be prepared to change to become the leader I desire to be.

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