‘I’m really proud of my work with Cheshire Disability Services Kenya’

3 December 2018

The PULSE Partnership gives GSK employees the opportunity to volunteer for a non-profit organisation for three or six months full-time.

We have been working with PULSE since 2009 and last year alone we had six volunteers supporting our work and that of our Global Alliance partners across three countries.

Patricia was one of them and she has now been back from Kenya for six months. She tells us about her experience.

How would you describe your PULSE assignment with Leonard Cheshire?

GSK is a pharmaceutical company which provides medicines, vaccines and consumer healthcare products to people do more, feel better and live longer.

And, as part of GSK social program called Pulse which aims at changing communities, the individual and ultimately GSK, I’ve donated six months of my time and skills to an NGO called Leonard Cheshire who supports persons living with disability to develop their full potential and live their life the way they choose and I can tell you that this was really a life-changing experience.

Could you explain briefly what was your role and your main responsibilities there?

I was hired as Global Alliance Regional Coordinator with the main aim to help raising funds but, in my first day, I asked the NGO’s CEO to follow the organizational assessment that the organisation was going through and I could identify many opportunities that I could contribute to.

So, I started my assignment with the responsibility to establish a partnership process including partner engagement and disengagement, to define and establish a process to enhance partners’ business skills through a capacity building plan, to work on partners’ sustainability strategies including fundraising and self-sustaining activities.

I was also in charge of developing an activity to celebrate the International Day of Persons Living with Disability and finally I also incorporated the development of a project to work with disability prevention and the development of a structured process to recruit and manage volunteers.

Patricia with a group of people in an office

Looking back to your experience, what would you say that you’ve brought back?

The most important thing I brought back was the certainty that I need and that I could do much more than I was doing for others; that I could contribute much more to reduce the social gap we have in our society.

Also, I brought back the assumption that nothing is impossible: I met a lady who teaches blind, deaf-mute children. I had never thought about children with these impairments together and of course I had never figured out how they could be taught.

I brought back the culture of praying much more than I used to; praying to ask for inspiration, good decisions during meetings, praying to thank for all we have and praying for God to help others in their necessities.

Finally, I brought back strengthened influence skills because during my assignment I had to influence many stakeholders to listen to my ideas about new possibilities. I’m now trying to help GSK people to enhance their influencing skills using my Pulse experience to illustrate the Influencing others' training that I'm delivering. And the feedback received so far has been very positive.

And what would you say that you’ve left behind you at CDSK Kenya?

I think I left in CDSK Kenya a new impression about volunteers, an impression that volunteers can be really helpful, an impression that a view from someone new, from outside can add value to the organization by bringing new ideas.

I think I left a sense of urgency to have a much more structured fundraising approach because relying on only two major donors can be very risky and that investing in disability prevention can be a way to reinvent the organization and attract new donors.

I left in CDSK Kenya not colleagues or co-workers, I left part of my family because in the last day of my assignment, CDSK team performed a Massai acceptance ceremony, so I officially became a CSDK family member!

Patricia with a group of children

You’ve spent six months working with our partner in Kenya, if you look back at all the things you’ve done, what are you most proud of?

I’m really proud of my work with Limuru Cheshire Disability Home — I started a campaign to fix their water system and we could get 41% of the money needed. I also made contact with a professor from Nairobi university who is helping me to create a business case to expand the bakery activity.

But most of all, having been able to deserve the affection, trust and love of those girls and knowing that after me, they became much more comfortable dealing with foreigners, that they are not afraid to show themselves and to speak from their hearts.

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