DAY 29, participant report: a Convergence of Experiential Wisdom

by Sku Mash on ‘Turning The Negative Into Fuel For Success’, Gweru, Zimbabwe, 7 July 2017

Sku Mash (left) as one of the participants of the Day of Learning

Between March and October 2017 100 Days of Learning are organized by teachers all over the world, to share knowledge and spark networks. Archie Marwizi organized a Day of Learning to ignite a resilient entrepreneurial spirit within each participant. He wanted to share inspiration to individuals facing difficult life circumstances and give examples of how he turned stress and sleepless nights into pages and chapters, to publish three books. He wanted to share, when all seems lost, how one can draw from their skill and experiences to start creating a new source of livelihood. And show how important it is to make temporary adjustments and sacrifices in one’s lifestyle, to get new traction. He beliefs inspiration, resilience and hard work will be needed to make it in Zimbabwe. Sku Mash, director of WIDER Zimbabwe, participated and shares her experience in a report:

“Obstacles are things a person sees when he takes his eyes off his goal.” — E. Joseph Cossman

The socio-political and economic challenges in Zimbabwe have often been so overwhelming, sometimes leaving us with little space for joint reflection as each of us pursues personal survival. It’s therefore not an every-day occurrence that one has an opportunity to be enriched by the convergence of experiential wisdom drawn from entrepreneurship, retail, local government, tourism, education, the arts, media, and government line ministry experts, among others. The 100 Days Of Learning (ODoL) concept enables such and the ODoL convened on the 7th of July at the Gweru Memorial Library was such an opportunity for me. It immersed me within a diverse network of thought leaders from career fields totally different from mine and proved a significant learning moment. By the end of the workshop I had also added to my network as I earned a new cohort of colleagues apart from the only two I had already known prior to it.

Being one who is very committed to civic participation in public life, this engagement space was a provocation to ongoing reflection and a challenge to optimistic action towards addressing some of the pressing issues of our time. The theme, “turning the negative into fuel for success” embodied an optimism most apt for our Zimbabwean nation, a nation much in need of socio-economic and politically sustainable new ways of seeing. I found particularly innovative the facilitator’s (Archibald’s) proposition to tap into the wealth of the expertise of the country’s retrenchees while also enabling business incubation for the nation’s large numbers of unemployed graduates. This is a group that I have, for long merely perceived as an “icon/marker of our country’s economic degeneration” yet through this ODoL I was challenged to see them in a new way as an oasis of hope for the revival of our economy. The key lesson from this part of the workshop was the need to invest in our nation’s talent through systematic, ongoing training and mentorship support.

Another key highlight was KAKIC CEO, Kudakwashe Maxwell’s envisioning of a model Zimbabwe through his talent and passion in animation. It spelt the possibilities of Archibald’s business incubation model and Kudakwashe confirmed that as a nation we are already rich in talent, which if identified and nurtured can scale the nation to greater heights.

Apart from the foregoing, input from the various participants will go a long way in shaping me into a reflective practitioner as I continue to engage with young people in under-resourced and hard to reach rural schools through WIDER-Zimbabwe. It is my hope to facilitate my own Day of Learning in which I will bring together a select group of Rural Schools Development Committee members to deliberate on sustainable self-financing models for rural schools.

I must end by stating that I will remember, for a while to come, that “In Zimbabwe there are no jobs but there is work.”, (Faith).I am also, from now on, inspired not to miss “the wealth of (business) opportunities that a walk in the street reveals” (Edward).These are some of the new ways of seeing that I am going off to share with the young people I partner with in my work. It was indeed an enriching One Day of Learning!

Director: Women’s Institute for Development, Education and Research-Zimbabwe(WIDER-Zimbabwe)

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