Ecclesia de Lange, IAM Director:
The current pandemic has abruptly called us to a halt with an invitation to consider our ways of being, doing and engaging. This has not been an easy process to embrace as it has been accompanied by uncertainty into the unknown future. I’ve thought about three steps that have helped me to connect with my colleagues where we are and to keep that creative spark alive in our work, while giving ourselves the grace to be in the moment. Perhaps they can be of help to others:
Acknowledging where we are
I have found it helpful to acknowledge where we find ourselves as an organisation in the current pandemic. It has been 25 years since the organisation’s inception, and we have been part of the growth and expansion of IAM’s footprint in the region. Over the last three years we have found new creative momentum and energy for our work and team, which were suddenly stopped by elements out of our control. When the SA President announced that a nationwide lockdown would be implemented from 26 March, we were able to make quick and clear decisions. Within a few days, the IAM team was equipped to work remotely to at least be able to connect during this period.
Creating space to adjust
The next stage for us was to give one another the space and time to adjust to a “new normal” of working from home. In some ways this is an ongoing process as we all differ in how we respond to crisis in confined spaces (our family units and needs vary). Again this process was and still is accompanied with uncertainty, anxiety, depression, moments of madness and many questions – how will we cope, how will my family adjust, how productive will we be, the sustainability of the organisation, how will we complete contracted activities, where and how can we assist, what will the future look like…? This process is paradoxical and unprecedented – embracing our feelings and questions in some way grounds us in the reality of now, and in other ways giving ourselves or surrendering to this process is letting go of what we know and how we work and settling into a space of free-falling. Our weekly team check-in meeting has offered a safety net, as well as a space where we can reconnect to our voice and express where we find ourselves, share ideas, concerns, and hopes.
Engage in a process of a renewal and resilience
In acknowledging that we do not have control over the outcome or timing of the lockdown, we have the opportunity to reflect, reevaluate and reshape our work within communities and the region – to think out of the box, to identify our resources, what we are good at, what we need to develop, what are the things that keep us stuck and how can we connect collectively and collaboratively in meaningful ways going forward. Embracing this process has challenged and renewed our faith and resilience. We look forward to seeing how we will emerge from the transformation that this process will bring.