Observations From a Fellow Departing

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Today’s blog is written by PPI-SA fellow Bryan Franklin who will conclude his contract as a Fellow March 4th.

I woke up to the sound of rain, and the first thought that ran through my mind was “good thing Thobani is organizing this event”. It wouldn’t have been the first time that one of our Leadership Development Program (LDP) events was rained out. It was a lesson I learned the hard way, multiple times.

Over the weekend PPI-SA hosted its official LDP 2016 kick off. It was a perfect opportunity to sit back and reflect on just how far we’d come. Entering 2015 PPI-SA’s LDP had two teams in two communities and had not had a concrete program structure in over 5 years. This had created a tremendous amount of strain on our program as a whole, as the LDP was supposed to be a feeder to our Professional Development Program.

Today, the program looks entirely different. Last year, for the first time ever, PPI-SA signed partnerships with two local high schools to run the LDP program. At the same time, the Lamontville LDP team was restarted in partnership with Bantuvukani Senior Primary School, and a second team was launched in Umlazi thanks to the initiative of two of PPI’s coaches. Adding to those four, this year PPI partnered with the YMCA and Ward 32 to launch a team in Albert Park (Durban City), the same park in which PPI helped build a court nearly 10 years ago.

For me, it was nice to sit back and watch as the event unfolded in front of my eyes. After re-shuffling staff responsibilities at the beginning of 2015, LDP Coordinator Thobani Khumalo and I were charged with re-starting the LDP. It was over a year ago that we set the goal of him taking over the program upon my departure, and Saturday it officially came into reality

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Bryan and Thobani at this past weekend’s LDP Extravaganza

I couldn’t have asked for a better co-lead in the past year than Thobani. Anyone who knows him knows that he’s the type of guy that always carries a positive perspective on life, and is tons of fun to be around. I can’t count the number of conversations we had about life, culture, politics, language and more—often comparing and learning about each other’s backgrounds. Every foreigner needs a local they can feel comfortable asking the “silly questions”, and Thobani was that guy. In one of our latest such conversations last week, Thobani remarked after talking about where we had come from “You know Bryan, there’s never been a local (i.e. non fellow) LDP Coordinator before”.

With words escaping me, all I could think was “you deserve it”.

I remember arriving nearly two years ago in Durban still a little unsure on what exactly my role would be at PPI-SA. As I look back now, it’s hard to point to parts of the organization I haven’t had a chance to help with. It’s been an incredible experience of learning, self-realization, and plain out fun. The part I’ll remember most are the people I worked with: PPI-SA coaches and staff. I’ll remember Thobani slowly but surely gaining confidence to take over LDP, celebrating with Marketing and Fundraising Manager Sbahle Mkhize every time we received a new grant, late night talks with M&E Coordinator Ntobeko Ngcamu on how we can better empower our coaches, banging our heads against the wall with Finance and HR Manager Mtu Zulu on creating systems for budgeting, fundraising and more, learning from fellow PPI-SA Fellow Ben Constable’s focus on efficiency and research backed thinking, and for the last month or so feeding off PPI’s newest hire, Nasiphi Khafu’s, energy and vision for the future.

For my second straight job, I’ve been blessed with counting my co-workers as family and can’t wait to keep in touch with all of them through my new position at PeacePlayers International – Global. Thank you to everyone who made this an unforgettable journey.

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