Groupe de champs
Communication

I’ve spent the last 15 years of my career at a large, biotech drug company in the US, so making the move to an NGO and moving to Swaziland has been a bit of an adjustment... as you can imagine.

I’ve spent the last 15 years of my career at a large, biotech drug company in the US, so making the move to an NGO and moving to Swaziland has been a bit of an adjustment... as you can imagine.

Technology has been one of the biggest changes. In the US I had an iPhone for work and a personal phone, both with unlimited minutes… in Swaziland I have a basic Nokia, circa 1998, and get $20 USD worth of airtime (which lasts about two weeks). You remember this type of phone… push the number 2 key 3 times to text the letter “c”.

There is only one provider for wireless service in Swaziland, so airtime is comparatively expensive. In the US I had wireless access from everywhere… and in Swaziland, the office is hardwired (and so is the printer).

Many of the resources that we have are shared, which makes things more of a challenge but not impossible. In the US I had an office and a phone… in Swaziland, I share a phone line with the five other people in my office. In the US had three voicemail boxes… in Swaziland, I don’t have any (some changes are quite positive).

In Swaziland, many people also share an email address with their counterparts, so to find the emails intended for them, they need to sift through all of the emails, and do so on a shared computer (shared with as many as 7 people). I’m lucky enough to have an email address and a computer, neither of which are shared.

Another contributing challenge to communication is the type of work that we do. In the mornings most of the teams meet at the office, get into cars or Land Cruisers, and drive anywhere from a few minutes to almost two hours to get to clinics. They might share a car with 7 people and a Land Cruiser with 9. The only time emails get checked are the few minutes before the cars/trucks leave the offices and at the end of the day in the few minutes between when people arrive back from the clinics before they leave for home.

If you put these points together you will quickly realize that communication is a challenge…. But somehow we still manage to get the work done, without all of the efficiencies of modern technology.