Friday, 7 December 2007

A rare encounter with the Donor

When the personal assistant to my Director asked me if I would be interested to go out for an organised event in London on Thursday night where someone from UK was going to talk about experiences concerning their visit to some blindness prevention programme in Africa, I said well, why not? after all I am in the blindness prevention field and this is what I do most times in Malawi and now that I am about to go back to Malawi soon to spend my Christmas in the village (Mzimba, Mtwalo, Ezondweni) this is an opportunity to see another building in London. Unfortunately I did not bother to ask more details of what was required and who would be there. I just got the address of the venue (Haberdashers hall, London) and said I will be there.
After being lost a few times in the streets of London, I finally got there late and in casual wear (sweater) only to notice that everyone is dressed formally and that this is indeed a very formal event.
The receptionist at the Hall asked for my name and gave me my name tag and said " puts this on your sweater and I will take you upstairs where the guest of honour is so that you can meet him". I say to myself o god! Why didn’t I ask for the dressing code?
To cut the story short I finally had a rare chance of meeting the top most senior staff, trustees and donors (individuals who support) of Sight Savers International, a UK based NGO that has been dedicated to fighting blindness all over the world for more than 50 years. Their current work stretches in over 30 countries throughout Asia, African and the Caribbean. Of most important to me is that Sight Savers International (SSI) began work in Malawi in the early 1960s and today supports programmes which cover the whole country. All the good eye work that I have been writing about in Malawi is to some extent supported by SSI. For an Organization of such a big magnitude and with its World Headquarters based in the UK, the probability of one local doctor meeting such top management is very small. But I was privileged to have met all of them.
In the first picture I am with “Lady Jean Wilson” in the middle and a colleague from Nigeria. Not only is she the Vice President of Sight savers International; but also Sight Savers International was founded by her late husband Sir John Wilson almost 50 years ago. I will have to write a whole blog about this amazing lady later.
In the second picture to my left is “Lord Nigel Crisp” (wearing a red/black tie) and to my right is a strong financial supporter of SSI (proceedings from his company go to SSI).
All the doctors and other health workers who have migrated from Malawi to UK should know who
Lord Nigel Crisp is ; previously known as Sir Nigel Crisp ;unless they have not heard of NHS (National Health Service ) where he has been the Chief executive for years. He is the chairman of board of trustees of Sight savers international. He knows so much about the Health issues in Malawi that I will have to write about him later.
Lastly I am with Dr Caroline Harper, the Chief executive of SSI .And I also met other many more senior SSI staff and talked lots and lots about the support they give us in Malawi. Honestly this was a rare meeting with the donor themselves; rather the supporting partners-as they prefer to be called.
I have posted two pictures indicating SSI assistance-among the many resources that SSI gives to Malawi to support Eye care.
And yes this was a good outing.
What do you think?
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