Posts Tagged 'nairobi'

Cross continental singalong

The last three days went fast. Our trainees practiced being a trainer, one short session every day. We saw the transformations: big for some, small for others, but all got better.  There were many opportunities for feedback – in the group, right after their session – from each other, from us and in one-on-one mentoring sessions. People were graded and given advice on what to work on, while we got soome good feedback on how to improve the TOT curriculum and set to work right away to prepare for the next pilot in Cape Town in early June.

On Friday night we finally left the hotel, where we had shuffled between our rooms, the restaurant and the training rooms (without windows) for the entire week. We went to a Brazilian/Kenyan restaurant where meat was served on large spits: beef, chicken, crocodile (Carnivore style). We sat at one long table with the (mostly) younger generation on one end, older folks in the middle and at the other end those in wheelchairs and mostly men.

We had a few ‘animatrices’ among us which led us to being the noisiest table in the entire restaurant. People learned to sing ‘Hakuna Matata’ which became the group’s song. It will forever takes us back to that night. Everyone got to teach a song. I contributed my favorite Dutch song (“en we voeren met een zucht/daar boven in the lucht/en we zaten zo gezellig in a schuitje/en niemand kon ons zien/en we hadden pret voor tien/lang leve de zeppelin”) which is a nonsense song, accompanied by a variety of hand and arm movements,to the great hilarity of all. It was wonderful to see people from Pakistan, Romania, Colombia, Brazil, Kenya, Uganda, Britain, US, South Africa and Tanzania having such a good time together.

On Saturday we held focus groups for a final round of suggestions and feedback before everyone went their way. We negotiated with the hotel management to have our farewell cocktail in the club lounge of the hotel with the TOT training team. We hailed from the UK, South Africa, India, Tanzania and the US. It was a most remarkable team. And leading us all was my formidable young colleague Maggie who won the respect of everyone with her superior organizational skills and great attitude; a model for anyone organizing a logistically, psychologically and geographically complicated design and testing process.


We completed the two day Training of Trainers core curriculum for wheelchair service provision on Tuesday. We are working in two adjacent rooms in parallel. Day one and two were the same; after that we diverged. I am in the group of trainees who will be training managers of rehab centers that already do or are thinking about wheelchair services. Our sister group next door is training trainers to conduct the technical/clinical part of the training package. The last three days of the week are for training practicum. We divided the management training sessions into sections and everyone gets three shots at doing the real thing, with ample support and feedback from us, more experienced trainers.

We have a remarkable group of very passionate people, some with considerable experience. And so we are going through the sessions much faster than I am used to, just recently in Laos but also in Mongolia, Cambodia and the Philippines. Confidence is rising by the day. On Friday we will explore the variations on stakeholder meetings that are supposed to move the wheelchair agenda forward in a country. At the end of this week we will have expanded the number of people in developing countries who can take the baton in this expansive relay race.

Over lunch I heard the creation story of this wheelchair movement. People inside the story are sometimes impatient with the speed of things. For me as an outsider it is an extraordinary story of building critical mass, mobilizing and aligning people in just a couple of decades. It is a story of leadership if ever I saw one. A story of building, one by one a worldwide movement aimed to give mobility and freedom (to do whatever you want to do) to children, caregivers and adults who are currently carried by their parents, stuck in backrooms or lingering in hospitals. I am a latecomer in this movement but so very happy and proud to be inside now.

May 2018
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