Thank you, Rwanda!

Melanie Uhlen's picture

After two full years in the land of a thousand hills, sadly it is time for me to say goodbye. Although the experience will probably only fully unfold once I’m back home, this is what I take back professionally:

  • Cultural understanding: Although I have always worked in international teams, I have never had to adapt to another culture. Overcoming the frustration of not really understanding how the system works and eventually mastering it, is a great achievement and…
  • Patience: … in the process you have no choice but to learn to be patient!
  • More respect for entrepreneurs: Through my work in Kigali’s entrepreneur scene, I have met amazing people that take enormous risks to implement their business visions. It is the type of people that do not wait around until they receive a call with a job offer, but create the very jobs they would like to do. Wow! I feel very privileged to have learnt from them.
  • A great network: I have connected with a lot of people working on Monitoring and Evaluation, learnt about their challenges and needs, and look forward to staying in touch with them.
  • A deepened understanding of the policy process in developing countries: Through my consulting work with the German development agency GIZ, I have been exposed to some policy processes. They are in Rwanda, like in many other developing countries, characterized by development cooperation partners. Despite there being challenges everywhere, big changes do happen. While in Europe we try to maintain our prosperity and battle the inevitable downturn, Africa is growing and developing through education, partnerships and courageous policy-makers and entrepreneurs.
  • Leadership skills: As small as my company may have been, I was a Managing Director of a business that did very well for two years. In this role, I overcame the fear of taking responsibility not just for myself in the professional life, but for others. I have understood that leading is not so much a skill as a choice: You have to embrace the responsibility and then you learn how to do it as you go.
  • Last, but not least: Stamping! As a Managing Director, I am definitely a pro now at stamping and signing, stamping and signing, stamping and signing…

In 2020, I will rejoin the German team of energypedia consult and work from Berlin, the capital of Germany. I will be very curious to see how Rwanda develops in the next years and hope I will even be able to recognize Kigali when I return!

Until then, murakoze cyane and take care, Rwanda!