This is not the usual blog post you see here on The Hunger Project Australia’s website. I’m writing to share with you what I learned in the village classroom in Malawi when I travelled there on a THP leadership immersion program.
My name is Tim Allen, and I went into the experience thinking, “What could I possibly learn from people living in dusty, remote villages in Malawi? What could I get from this experience that would really make a difference to my son, my workplace and my community?”
That said, I was also excited to explore a new country and connect with new people. I was hoping I could experience moments that I could share with my family and friends, and get a better understanding of the world that we live in.
What I experienced was this and so much more than I could ever have imagined.
1. To be comfortable with the unknown
Going into the program, I was anxious and uncertain about what would unfold. I had some fears about what I’d see and do – I simply didn’t know what to expect. But when I arrived, the warmth and openness from the people of Malawi put me at ease.
2. How to be resilient in the face of uncertainty
I met people living in chronic hunger and I saw that, with resilience and vision, people could be empowered to lift themselves out of hunger. I arrived back in Australia at time of significant change and disruption in my life. Drawing on the resilience of people I met in Malawi, I knew that whatever was thrown at me I could embrace.
3. The importance of being present in every moment
In Malawi, I discovered the genuine benefits of having a beginner’s mindset and the power of being present in every interaction. Now, with my one year old son, I focus on staying ‘in the moment’ and being intentional when we are playing. This has enabled me to better understand his personality and development. As a result I think I’m becoming a better dad. I’ve carried these learnings over to my work life and relationships with colleagues too.
4. What it means to be a global citizen
I want to be accountable to the people I met in Malawi. The most impactful and frankly easiest thing I can do is to invest monthly, which I’m able to do through workplace giving. It allows me to give small amounts often. I believe that investing in others is a way for that we can improve our collective wellbeing – irrespective of the place you call home.
5. That every conversation is an opportunity for growth
I witnessed THP Malawi Country Director Rowlands Kaotcha expertly turn each conversation into a moment to shift an individual’s mindset and create opportunities for personal growth. Now, I’m taking this opportunity to ask you – what could be possible for you? The Hunger Project’s next leadership immersion program called Unlock is going to Malawi in November, and I can honestly say you won’t regret going on it! Go and do it, and you’ll learn how to be a better partner, a better colleague, a better friend and a better you.