SHE is young, stylish, dazzlingly beautiful, not only pretty or exotic but shimmering beauty in the classical sense and has brains too. She is determined to transform the lives of people around her as she seems to have grasped the concept that development is about transforming people’s lives not just economies.
This is just part of the story of Patience Malaba who is studying for a Social Science degree at Lupane State University who because of her selflessness and determination to change the world around her was selected to be part of the IREX Community Solutions Programme — a professional development programme starting in August in the United States.
She said she was humbled to be selected out of the 63 countries from where the outstanding community leaders were derived, adding that the programme was going to enhance her desire to bring meaningful economic, environmental, political and social change in the communities she would be working with and the country in its totality.
She is guided by the words of Robert G Ingersoll: “As man develops, he places a greater value upon his own rights. Liberty becomes a grander and diviner thing. As he values his own rights, he begins to value the rights of others. And when all men give to all others all the rights they claim for themselves, this world will be civilised.”
Patience spoke to Sunday Leisure about the programme. Excerpts of the interview are below.
Can you briefly tell us about Patience Malaba, who is she?
I am a part four student at Lupane State University studying towards a Bachelor of Social Science degree. I am a community development worker and activist who, growing up in the community of Lupane, was inspired to one day bring the change I desire for my community. I work for Habakkuk Trust, an organisation that I volunteered to work with as driven by my passion for development work.
I am humbled but elated and confident that my experience in the US will be a rewarding one and I look forward to working with people of diverse cultural and professional backgrounds and to interact with ideas from various people of diverse cultures and backgrounds. I believe it will assist to improve my capacity for community development.
What’s unique about the programme?
The IREX Community Solutions Programme is a professional development programme for the best and brightest community leaders working to address economic, environmental, political and social challenges confronting local communities. It seeks to improve the capacity for local community leaders and help them serve as ambassadors for increased mutual understanding.
It involves four months practical work with a non-profit organisation or other civil society organisations or government offices across the US. The practicum component of the programme is designed to give leaders substantive practical experience that will complement the coursework they do. At the host organisation, leaders focus on practical skills building and developing their follow-on project while learning new leadership and organisational management strategies. It also involves leadership and organisational management skills training through a Community Leadership Institute which is a structured leadership learning experience that combines self-study, group trainings, personal mentoring, and online discussions.
How did you get selected? What were the processes involved?
Outstanding Community Leaders are drawn from about 63 countries derived from Africa, East Asia and the Pacific, Europe, South and Central Asia, Near East and North Africa and the Northern Hemisphere. I sent in my application that went through an extensive selection process which includes interviews and review processes. I must mention I am also grateful to The Chronicle for publishing some of my writings which also had a bearing on the selection criteria.
What drives you to undertake community development programmes and what are your aspirations?
I am driven by a strong desire to see communities that are self-sustainable and determine the discourse of their development. I do intend to contribute to the development and improvement of effective participation of citizens through participating in developing the capacity of community members on advocacy and conflict management for effective service delivery.
During my fellowship in the US I hope to learn about the intricate interface of accountability and transparency with the cause for community development which I will implement in my follow-on project.