I’ve been around long enough to know that there comes a time in life to take a deep breath and renew one’s self.
Years ago, when we first started talking about a capital campaign for Open Arms to construct a new building and to expand our programming, I talked with board members about the possibility of me taking a sabbatical following the campaign. I had seen some of my peers in the nonprofit world lead multi-year fundraising drives only to find themselves too exhausted from capital campaigns to continue working in the field. I also saw staffs suffer a letdown after a prolonged period of adrenalin and excitement that accompany any successful capital campaign. The campaign ends, a facility gets built and staff members are left wondering what the next big thing is that they are going to work on. At Open Arms, we wanted to avoid all of those possible scenarios. Plus, there is another project I have been thinking about for years that I want to have the time to pursue.
So, from January 15 until August 1, 2011, I will be taking a sabbatical from Open Arms.
Jennifer Van Wyk, who has served as Deputy Director for six years and as a member of our Board of Directors before that, will be Acting Executive Director. My sabbatical gives Jennifer, and other members of Open Arms’ dedicated and hard-working staff, opportunities to take on new responsibilities and to be cross-trained in the operations of Open Arms. It’s a win/win for Open Arms and me; though admittedly more of a win for me.
For my sabbatical, I will be returning to South Africa to write a second book. My first book, Never Give Up: Vignettes from Sub-Saharan Africa in the Age of AIDS, is a collection of my experiences and stories doing AIDS work in Africa. (Shameless plug: the book is available for purchase at Open Arms and all proceeds from the sale of the book go to support Open Arms’ work in Africa.) The book I will be writing during my sabbatical will examine issues of economic inequalities and has a working title of Black and Blue in South Africa.
I will be using this site as my primary blog as I prepare for my sabbatical and while I’m writing in Africa. It’s a great adventure I look forward to sharing with all of my friends at Open Arms.