By Rob Hinschberger:
October is known as tourism month in Africa and I was able to get my fair share of adventure in! While Bombaso’s has been fairly quiet and empty, I have had the pleasure of getting to know a couple South African gentlemen, Henrik and Danni, who have been working here for a couple weeks. It’s another perspective that brings stories and helps enhance the experience. The final full month remains before a return back to Canada and there is still much work to accomplish.
The last four weeks were spent at the Olympafrica Centre where I began administrative duties. I am proud of the energy and commitment from the employees and volunteers as we have worked through a few tasks. Orchestrating meeting/briefings once a week has allowed for a more transparent organization, although communication still needs to increase from all members. I’ve noticed it from many Swazi’s – taking a reserved role is more likely than stepping up with opinions. The office went through a big change which hopefully will lead to a greater attention to detail (in regards to equipment removal), responsibility (members that come, what they are participating in), and program structure. First, inventory was taken, followed by cleaning and transferring equipment from the attached building for the (soon to be) addition of sport organization offices.
I believe a lack of consistency and allowing complacency to set in is one of the deterrents that this organization has endured. Changing that culture requires high energy, while reminding and giving examples of why change would be positive for their organization. One personal challenge I have fought with is believing that the effort I put in now won’t go to waste once I leave. You like to believe that habits won’t be dropped immediately upon my departure but the reality is you don’t know – therefore, I self-motivate by reminding myself of what I am trying to accomplish will make a difference.
At times it has been a challenge in terms of leadership; the interactions to motivate differ from those I have been a part of in Canada based largely on the feeling here of “this is what we have”. Truth is, while financial resources may be weak among many of the members/volunteers, the Centre itself has plenty to offer and therefore, can be used as a Developmental Centre for all ages (parents included). That said, beginning to offer a consistent program structure (every week on a certain day and time this program will be offered) is something that has been stressed and needs to be implemented. Offering programs for mothers and tots has been talked about and I would like to see us take this initiative on. With our Parent Day coming on November 12, I am aiming to have a detailed operational plan that the volunteers can explain and introduce to parents.
In addition, I took part in a Snapchat Takeover of Brock’s account which detailed a day as a QE Scholar in Swaziland – that was enjoyable. The operational plan, based on the OAC and presented to the Trust must be finalized in the upcoming days. Lastly, using resources from previous classes, I have presented some risk management material that I am hoping to be able to transfer over to the next intern. I have noticed that our (Canada) inherent concern for health and safety has been noticeable over here. Simple example – a door is used as a table top (in our new kitchen area) and the hinges were left facing out, a potential object to cut/scrape. I am looking forward to the next few weeks of work – turning my attention to the final project and last few assignment for the internship is upon me as well. I told myself in September that I wouldn’t procrastinate the last major assignment of my undergrad so here’s hoping I stick to my word! (haha)
As mentioned in the previous blog, my girlfriend, Emily made the long trip over to Swaziland which allowed for plenty of sightseeing and adventure. The week was fantastic and a nice refresher to the work ahead. Driving a car again was wonderful, not to mention a nice trick on the mind due to the drivers seat on right side (and shift stick with left hand) and driving on the left side of the road. I must say, Swazi’s drive fast (and aggressive) and this comes from a fast/aggressive driver himself BUT they stick to an old fashion rule that drivers in Ontario need to learn to be better at (this one’s for you mom!) – keep left, pass right (again, vice versa here). Barreling down on you, you know to either pick it up or move over.
The Swazi’s can cook too – we enjoyed a couple lovely meals, one at an up-scale guesthouse (the lamb shank I had was phenomenal) and another at a pub. Checking out a glass blowing shop was thrilling as creative works of art are produced – I’m pumped to use my wine chiller when I get back home! Hiking took place of course and the views were extraordinary. We ventured out to see the oldest ore mine in the world at Ngwenya Mine – subsequently, a small trek up Lions Cavern was beautiful. The sheer amount of mountains here is staggering!
At Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary, we hiked up Execution Rock, a historical spot as Swazis suspected of witchcraft or criminals were forced to walk off the edge at spear-point for their crimes. Here we were able to witness our first wildlife too, with plenty of zebra and antelope spotted, along with a 7 foot tall termite hill! A trek up Sibebe Rock, the largest granite rock in the world, occurred as well as taking in the history of Swaziland appears to be the theme here. Two days were spent at Mkhaya Game Reserve which I believe exceeded expectations. While most of the elephants have been sent to the USA due to the drought and therefore not spotted, plenty of the rare black rhinos were encountered. Add in hippos, giraffes, buffalo, monkeys, and a wide variety of birds, trees, and plants made for fantastic scenery.
I highly recommend any intern or visitor of Swaziland to experience this venue – the accommodation was a treat (food included and dances by the Swazi ladies at night). I even took part as a volunteer and tried my best in a dance – a lot of fun was had! As per Halloween tradition back home (not celebrated here), we carved some blue pumpkins which the workers at Bombaso’s enjoyed to see. Lastly, a canopy tour (zip lining) happened at Malolotja Nature Reserve which provided more great views of landscape and an experience I had not partaken in prior. Overall, a magnificent week (double thumbs up!)
I think I’m going over the word count limit (haha) so that is all for now! Until next time, Go Leafs Go!