Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away.
I sat in, like a fly on the wall (and literally that's how I was viewed by some) on the first of a series of three global development workshops locally, in order to get a better feel for how to best structure the plenary forum in a couple of months. I won't be structuring it per se, but I will be at the table lending event planning expertise to the lead organization in charge of bringing together the local experts in health, poverty/social justice and environment.
This first session was on health and it was comprised largely of academics and NGO types focused on research and service delivery in areas such as epidemiology, infectious diseases, and pharma delivery for immune disease treatments. Listening to some of these academics pontificate was amusing but at the end of the day, it was also highly inspiring to hear altruism in action (yes, even from the pharmaceutical side).
Like most one-day seminars, there was a tremendous amount of content packed into the sessions with little time to get at unpacking the weighty issues facing the global health sector today. Things like the bitter reality that NGOs are often not in the business of sustainable development, that they encounter political issues and face tension between funding realities and conflicting, core ideological philosophies at every turn. And that they too frequently divert funds from public sector services, fragment the provision of services (ie. away from much needed in-country public health) and can sometimes be like a band-aid on a brain tumor. Sad truths, to be sure.
I know nothing of health except that I am reasonably healthy, save one day per month, and that the world is chronically dis-eased. But I know a little something about P3s (public-private partnerships), from my time in both private and public sector, and it is vastly apparent that the GD industry here is a global knowledge centre that stands on the cusp of something rather wonderful, collaboratively speaking. And I also know a little something about being in an industry sector that went from everyone having blinders on where the right and left hands were at disconnect, to one in which industry relations were strengthened and celebrated.
In any event, much of what I thought would be vocalized did come out yesterday, such as the need for advocacy, communication, industry relations and critical mapping. It was a positive first step and it is hugely apparent there is an obvious need for an industry association aimed at fostering this collaboration and building stronger, more effective synergies.
I felt a certain je ne sais quoi ~ almost a feeling of homecoming...like I was absolutely right where I needed to be. On the peripheral but at the table, nonetheless.
It's interesting that I keep stumbling upon development work over the years as a marketer. I worked alongside the development guys and gals during my stint as a provincial economic development manager in charge of a tourism marketing portfolio. And again in Pakistan, I dabbled in national tourism development for a time, before we got yanked out of the country. And I thought a bit about switching my degree from Humanities over to Business and pursuing an MBA in sustainable tourism. I even enrolled in an advanced level MBA class as an undergrad (because of my prior learning and work experience), but found the course to be too basic and a bit of a hindrance, as I was being called within the class as the resident industry expert, to explain basic tourism acronyms and on-the-ground realities to the other non-tourism students in the class - who had lots of theory behind them but little to no real world experience. So I dropped the course and awarded myself my own invisible ink MBA from the School of Hard Knocks.
And now here I am again, except this time, I have deliberately sought out the work.
Perhaps by the next session, I'll have morphed from spy fly to spider or queen bee and people will start looking over their shoulder to see where the buzz is coming from. Let's just hope there are no entomologists in the room though. I don't want to end up like a lab scab.