Control

I’m back in PE and starting my second tour of South Africa. Jannie has a room waitin for me where I can retreat when needed. This is going to give me a homely feeling and coziness.

Upon return by Maranatha streetworkers trust, I was warmly welcomed by Hennie. The man who can do anything. Facility manager, IT manager, reception and a storyteller. Dr. Basson invited me to Nieu-Bethesda coming weekend. A location more than 300 km inland where Maranatha is also present. I accepted the invite with both hands. I cancelled all my appointments and work for this weekend.

Mentally and practically, I hardly prepared anything. Took a look at google maps where Nieu-Bethesda is located and read Maranatha’s website. Furthermore, I am very excited about what this unforeseeable outing is going to bring me.

Packing my bag is done quickly. Toothbrush, tooth paste, clean underwear, 2 T-shirts 1 extra shorts. I’m wearing my hiking boots. I won’t leave home without these.

Friday 7 February at 9:00 a.m., Pastor Ronald is waiting for me at Maranatha, his car fully loaded. I boldly go to explore new worlds into the unknown. It’s hard for the car to start. In my mind, the question arises, whether the car will not break down along the way. Ronald lets the engine run when we stop for shopping, get water, lunch or just to take a break. So starting the car won’t be an issue!?

We enjoyed wide views and horizons, we talked constantly along the way. Peers with a different cultural background sharing our life story. It turns out that despite cultural differences, our sense of injustice, sadness, hope and pleasure are the same. Family circumstances, pressure of societies, minorities and majorities. We have also discussed colonialism and the role of Europeans. “How theft of life leads to achievements and the right of preservation is justified through oppression.”

Both have an allergy to oppression.

The weekend is filled with a curriculum for the “class elders” of the local elementary schools of the township of Piernaarsig. The theme is entrepreneurship. I didn’t participate in the program myself. It is mainly observing what Maranatha’s work looks like and getting to know people and surroundings. I did however spent an hour juggling with the kids.

It is a beautiful green environment thanks to some heavy rain showers in the past week. The farm where I stay is also used as bed and breakfast. I got myself the cowshed and it looks great. It’s a special amazing weekend. Read more about Nieu-Bethesda here.

In my personal life I can very much enjoy the unexpected, the unknown. How different it is with my working at PE . It feels it’s needed to know in advance what’s is going to happen. I need to have a clear path.

Before I went for my holiday I talked to R4L (ready 4 life) and Maranatha about what work I’m going to do. Maranatha asks for a library project, guitar lesson and civics. R4L an ICT project. I don’t want to work more than 25 hours a week myself. On my return, Paterson Highschool also appears to want to use my skills. They asked if I can “revive” the school library and I took that job.

Now my experience in project management comes in handy. Planning is not only to indicate when you are going to do something, but also what you will and what you are not going to do. Also identifying risks and the measures are being described (i.e. resourcing is always an recurring risk) . The basics of running a project. I introduced a 6 day workweek. Ma and Vr (R4L) Di, Do, Sat (Maranatha) and Wed (Paterson High) Now have some form of control to keep. !?

My restart at Maranatha is a tough start. There’s quite a bit going on inside Maranatha. A significant number of people have left and there are quite a few issues that needs more attention. A matter of priorities.

The same applied to Martie! A wonderful woman I met last year. She was as library responsible designated to the project. I was sure that she the right person for the role and able to make a issuing system together and complete the renovation of the space / library. A woman full with energy, power and passion for her work at Maranatha. (Careworker)

I was able to greet her on my first day at work and give her a big hug and as if we know each other for years.

… The next day she had left.

So much for control the library project. The risk became reality no resources. Now completely dependent on Harrison to find a replacement so waiting. After 3 weeks finally I had a kick-off conversation about the library with 2 other ladies. Later it will turn out it would be just a kick-off, the whole project will be on edge!

The workshops for the youngsters and the guitar lessons were also delayed. I had not taken into account another holiday period. But we managed to do the workshops (change) giving guitar lessons.

As for Martie, as a person she has the same desire to discover the world as I do. Think about hiking, leisure outdoor activities, nature and running. Shared interests lead to personal ties and so it did in our case.

At Paterson high, the start of the project is as unsettled as maranatha. Three major tasks had to be done. Taking inventory over 4000 books, make the room suitable as a library, and develop a issuing system and IT facilities. After writing a project plan and 5 “work packages”, it turns out that it is not read by the school.

So I spend a lot of time onsite to put volunteers to work. In the end, with some brave attempts by two volunteers who started the inventory together with Nicky (R4L volunteer) and myself, the two volunteers dropped out of the project. What they have inventoried has not been delivered. And it turns out that new resources is hard to find. I only work 4 hours a week on location for Paterson and the rest I do from home. I am mainly concerned / focused with IT matters and developing. Net result, 300 books recorded in 5 half working days. (At Maranatha I did 250 books in 1 day).

Also here the school closes for the holidays. Things are at total standstill.

Is there something going according to schedule? Yes there is, Ready4Life is well started. Perhaps that’s due to the kind of work. I do most of work myself. Reversed enginering, assessments, developing and writing. I do a lot from home and Frida’s I am onsite. I do however have to dig deep into my memory to pick up some techniques within data modeling. Entity relationship diagram (ERD), normalization rules.

I wrote this post to outline my fight to gain control and to not have control at all. Privately, I find certainty in the unpredictability of what’s happening. Unlike my work, where I want to have the predictability because of the direction I need take. My understanding of being in control is about being able to act in case of deviations. Writing this, I am thinking that in case of uncertainty not knowing the plan nor direction, deviations has no meaning the word does not exist. So much for control!

By the way, now that this has been published, it is clear that there is nothing left to control.