A Split Life
I am lucky enough to spend half of my time in Lawra (a remote community in Upper West Ghana) and half in Ramsbury (a picturesque Wiltshire village). I love my work and love the opportunities for travel that it brings.
My two homes couldn't be more different, in so many ways. Being Chief Executive of the charity means that I have overall responsibility for both ends of the work, whichever location I am in, but in reality my work life looks extremely different depending on where I am.
Lawra has a slow pace of life, constant sunshine and a culture that embraces daytime napping. I love it there. I love the heat, the welcoming Ghanaian attitude and seeing the impact of the incredible work ATE is doing. I love going for an evening jog out to the schools we are feeding, waving at the children whose lives have been changed by our work. I’m constantly proud when I’m there; it’s impossible not to be with the frequent reminders of our achievements. We work hard, launching new projects, monitoring the ongoing work, managing a growing staff base and staying connected to the incredible men, women and children that we work with. It is intense and busy, but overwhelmingly joyous.
When I come back to the UK, I am aglow with the light of success. I step off the plane into Terminal 3 (which has felt rather overcrowded recently) feeling exhausted, a bit grubby from the 2-day journey to the airport, and ready to convince the world that it should support our work. After a shower, a cheese binge and a very large glass of sauvignon blanc (usually provided by my very kind mother), I attack fundraising ferociously for the first few weeks back. I am a great fundraiser when I’m fresh from Lawra – I am raw with emotion, extremely connected to the work and irritatingly enthusiastic. However, during these weeks my stress levels start to rise as I realize that I have to catch up on all non-urgent work, which was all but abandoned during my time in Ghana. Life gets busier and busier as I reach deadlines for thing like budgets, strategy documents and reports. As I get older, I realize just how badly I work unless deadlines are looming – I love a good challenge and find myself rushing to complete things that I leave right to the last minute. It’s a hideous unconscious process.
I am determined to start managing my time better. I regularly convince myself that from now on I will be one of these wonderfully organized people that I envy. I dream of creating complex to-do lists and completing tasks well in advance of comfortable deadlines… I will split the admin work between the UK and Ghana – making it all much more manageable. This feels like a distant dream right now!
When I arrive in Ghana in November, I will be busy, but it will be different. I will have 3 volunteers with me, which I will thoroughly enjoy. Introducing other people to ATE’s work is one of the nicest ways to spend my time. As long as they all avoid malaria, snake bites or motorbike accidents it should be a good trip.
The phrase ‘a change is as good as a rest’ has never felt more relevant.
Sarah is the Chief Executive of Action Through Enterprise (ATE) For more information go to http://ateghana.org/