With a wide array of conflicting emotions, the time has come for me to say goodbye. As with any goodbye, there is the heartbreaking reality that I will no longer be around, in the physical sense, to greet the people I so loved working with every morning, to witness firsthand the wonders that are born through our programs, to be part of the explosion of creativity, innovation and growth that is AGHCA on a daily basis. However, there are a few things that add an uplifting dimension to this goodbye.
First, look how far we've come! AGHCA exceeded all expectations that anyone, including myself, ever had for her! She started off as an amorphous idea in the minds of a few crazy dreamers (including myself, Sharifa Abdulla, Mwiza Nyirenda and David Gere), and in just a few years, has not only taken on form, she has taken on a whole life and personality of her own! Still flexible and open in nature, AGHCA now has a mission and a vision, and is working steadily to achieve the goals she set for herself. She inspires and invites like-minded entities (individuals and organizations) to work together, and in so doing she grows, she thrives, she flourishes! I am thrilled to continue watching her grow.
Secondly, I could not hope for a more fitting successor for my role than the wonderful Helen Todd. Helen has worked with AGHCA for two years in her capacity as Program Manager for GHC in Malawi. She has always been passionate about the arts, creativity, leadership development, health, human rights and social change, and indeed has done so much in these fields, in different countries and capacities. As co-founder and outgoing ED of AGHCA, I am 100% confident in her ability to lead the organization, together with our amazing staff, into an even brighter future.
Finally, my leaving is not absolute. On a personal level, I remain committed to the field, to our mission and values, and am looking forward to my next chapter as a fellow at the Mandel School of Educational Leadership in Jerusalem. I also look forward to joining the Board of AGHCA and offering my insight and advice as a Board member.
Last but certainly not least, I want to say a huge ZIKOMO (thank you) to everyone who has been part of this journey: the participants in the "This is My Story" project back in 2008, who inspired me to come back, and John Hamilton who brought me to Malawi in the first place; the Fulbright program that enabled me to come back; Chancellor College, specifically the Fine and Performing Arts Department, and Prof. Kamlongera and Dr. Chanunkah, who received me so warmly and enabled the seeds for AGHCA to be planted; past and current staff and volunteers (Sharifa, Mwiza, Ellie, Marian, Isabel, Rodney, Mervin, Nadia, Rodger, James, Masozi, Elita, Isaac, Harry), our wonderful Board (Chancy, Lusizi, Chikosa, Sadie, Chiwoza, William and David); our partners who have made all this possible (UCLA AGHC, Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa, Global Health Corps, Segal Family Foundation, Dignitas International, U.S. Embassy, Global Giving); specific individuals whose support, encouragement and inspiration has made all the difference (David Gere, Elisabeth, Marcia, Isaiah, Brenda Frieberg, David Unruh, David Young, Tom Gibb and many others); all participants and dreamers in our programs – from those in 2011 who inspired everything that happened later to the current ones whose amazing work is our greatest source of motivation; my family and friends who have been supportive of my work here in so many ways (you know who you are!); and, finally, thank you Malawi, and specifically Zomba, and even more specifically, all the wonderful friends I've made here over the years, Ndathokoza kwa mbili for making me feel at home.
I wish AGHCA to keep dreaming big, and then take all those small steps to make those dreams come true. To all our supporters, partners and friends, please continue showering your love, support and ideas, for the growth of this precious and unique center for social change.
Galia Boneh, Co-founder of AGHCA