As part of GHLI’s participation in the USAID-funded Leadership, Management and Governance Project, I recently traveled to Kigali, Rwanda, to launch our first Senior Leadership Program (SLP). GHLI staff teamed up with Lourdes de la Peza of Management Sciences for Health and three local facilitators to teach strategic problem solving and accountable, gender-sensitive governance.
My first impression of Rwanda was that it was refreshingly clean. I had heard how impressively litter-free the country is, but it took seeing it myself to fully appreciate the manicured sidewalks, the landscaped medians, and the striking absence of plastic bags.
Our students were 30 of the country’s 44 district hospital directors, as well as five professors from the National University of Rwanda’s School of Public Health. Participants were divided into teams based on the primary hospital challenges identified prior to our visit, they included: staff motivation, staff supervision, equipment management, procurement and maternal/newborn health and family planning.
Though these directors convene monthly for staff meetings, it seems they rarely have an opportunity to work together. One of the most important things the SLP does is create a space in which participants can learn from the struggles and achievements of their peers – comments and concerns included frequent stock-outs of essential medicines and no inventory for medical equipment. As one person would divulge a problem they would all nod their heads in somber agreement. They seemed both surprised and relieved to hear how many challenges they had in common.
Despite steaming hot afternoons in a room with no fans, the SLP participants sat eagerly through lectures, debated passionately with their team members in work sessions, and engaged enthusiastically with us throughout to ascertain whether we were fully enjoying our visit to their stunning country.
Participants seemed to walk away feeling empowered to improve their workplaces, leveraging both the tools we shared as well as the relationships they built throughout the session that will hopefully endure long after this program has closed.