By Regina Mburu, communications liaison for Unbound in Africa
Each Unbound program office has their own unique way of doing things, tailored to meet the needs of the sponsored friends in their area. But learning from other offices is invaluable to keeping the program evolving.
Every few years, our program offices in Africa hold a Pan African Conference where they can share ideas and challenges. This year the conference was hosted by our Uganda office. Regina Mburu, our communications liaison in Africa, shares her experiences during the conference.
The preparations to visit Uganda, the Pearl of Africa, for the Pan African Conference started months ago. Each of the African projects started preparing their presentations and submitting topics that needed to be discussed.
As the date to the conference drew closer, the mood amongst the staff heightened. For some, it was the first time to travel to a different country and excitement filled the air.
On July 20th, Unbound staff from around Africa started streaming in to the hotel where the conference was held. The long hours of travel clearly showed on their faces. With luggage in their hands and beads of sweat on their foreheads, they made way to their rooms.
This marked the first day of the conference.
It was a sea of blue on the second day with each staff member wearing an Unbound T-shirt. Scott Wasserman, Unbound’s president and CEO, gave the opening remarks and officially set the ball rolling for the next few days in Entebbe.
Many different topics were covered, and each presenter did their best to convey their message. Challenges were discussed and possible solutions offered.
“It is great learning from other offices,” said Teddy Naluwu, the Uganda program coordinator. “Their experiences working with the families and the concepts they are coming up with in their day to day work at Unbound is amazing.”
Group work during the conference was also a way that the participants got to interact and share information amongst each other.
“It is not very often that we have a chance to meet with staff members from other countries,” said Aika Temu, correspondence specialist from Tanzania. “This was a great forum to borrow good practices from each other as well as try to find better ways to serve at Unbound. It was an awesome experience.”
With all the serious discussion, there was still time for everyone to have some fun and get to know each other. The Uganda office organized a fashion contest, with staff members from the various program offices coming up with an outfit and modeling it. Participants literally put their best feet forward as they walked the catwalk in different designs, ranging from casual wear to formal wear, each one of them trying to clinch the award in their respective category.
Amidst cheers, claps and whistles from their colleagues, they walked the runway confidently, wearing big smiles across their faces.
“This is my first time walking the catwalk. I think if I wasn’t working as a program counselor, I could make a good model. I really enjoyed myself,” said a happy Samuel Njoroge, Nairobi program counselor.
The true spirit of Unbound could be felt amongst each one. The fact that we all came from different countries and have different cultures did not stand in the way of healthy interactions and debates.
As the curtains closed down on the Pan African conference, each one of us walked away a little wiser and informed.
Truly, the Unbound family stands strong and woven together beautifully by the thread of love.
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