Birth of a society

The second wheelchair stakeholder alignment or consultative meeting is over – it was the primary reason for me being here.  Although my task is not done, the hard work is over. Tomorrow we start the managers training meeting for rehab center directors and other people in managerial positions from the government, the national health insurance program, private sector and charities. I will get to serve mostly as a supportive coach to the Filipina trainers; they left me just one session to conduct, on Planning for Financial Sustainability no less!

This afternoon I served as a midwife to the birth of the Philippines Society of Wheelchair Professionals. The first part of the day was hard labor, but then in the afternoon the baby slipped easily into this world. The birthing process was participative and exciting and left spirits very high, swept even higher by a group photo accompanied by Queen’s “We Are The Champions.”

I had asked for nominations for candidates to form a transition committee that would help shepherd the Society into its postnatal period, until such a time that it is strong enough for formal election of its officers. Ten people were nominated or nominated themselves; two of them declined, seven of them did a less than one minute stump speech and eight were on the ballot. Everyone voted for five candidates, a somewhat arbitrary limit informed mostly by practical considerations and my experience that teams of 5 are often more effective than larger teams.

While Maggie counted the votes, the 60 or so participants and soon to be members of the Society created three drafts statements built up from the ideas of each and every individual in the room. After the election results came through, the five members of the democratically elected received their applause and set down to their first task as Transition Committee and fashioned the mission statement out of the key words that the group had identified from three drafted statements. Transition_committee-PSWP

And while the Society’s mission was being created, the rest of the participants brainstormed possible objectives and settled on four, an easy process of convergence as the glue among the participants had already set, in spite of quite divergent individual agendas and concerns.

Maggie gave me a brief refresher on hash tags and @ signs and supervised my first Instagram postings on this newly born society and its first pilots.

A research team from JHPIEGO, a Johns Hopkins affiliate, invited everyone to dinner to share the results of a consultation they conducted on Monday morning – a nice example of synergy between organizations who sometimes compete and sometimes work together, as we did here – both of our programs funded by USAID.

I ended this great day deeply tired but very happy and treated myself to a massage in the hotel spa. Unlike the sketchy spa in our previous, much more upscale hotel, this spa was great and open till midnight.  My massage was splendidly done by Nellie, who I might visit one more time before it is time to return home.

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