Joanne Blythe, Administrative Officer for the Mozambique – Canada Maternal Health Project, is retiring from her position after many years of dedicated service to the work of the U of S in Mozambique.
Nazeem Muhajarine, Principal Investigator states, “Although we knew Joanne would take her retirement before the current version of the Mozambique – Canada project ends, when the time is here, it is sad to see her leave. Joanne has been such a dedicated, competent and calm presence not only in this project, handling all matters financial and administrative, but in several other projects that preceded this as well. To my knowledge Joanne has been a constant presence in at least four consecutive U of S – Mozambique projects. She is so good at what she does, we keep asking her back. I will describe Joanne as having that steady hand, quietly competent, and dedicated to the commitment on making the world a better place. We will miss Joanne and we wish her farewell! Thank you for all your valuable contributions for two decades to build the U of S – Mozambique partnership (in Inhambane) that we have.”
Canadian Project Director Jessie Forsyth said, “We will miss Joanne a lot – but her good work will stay with us. The strength of her commitment and dedication has helped us get to where we are now, both here in Canada and in Mozambique. We have worked as a team for a long time – and Joanne has been a crucial member of that team. In many instances, she worked behind the scenes but her contributions have been very important, keeping everything else moving as it should. Joanne understands the systems and contexts in Mozambique and in Canada and has always been able to link both sides to advance our overall goals. A great person, and friend, Joanne will be missed.”
In thinking back over the years with the Canada – Mozambique project links Joanne talked about how “one of the highlights was the opportunity to go to Mozambique. I met project and community people in person and learned much about the reality of life in Mozambique. It was incredible to be in the villages to see the work they did in building healthier communities, and how their culture of dance and song gathered people together. I was able to stay overnight,and be with village leaders such as Lara of Tevele who worked in agricultural production as well as being the village midwife.”
Joanne saw the work as “profound in the way the project developed organizationally – with a strong commitment to community health, and human relations building as keys to overall development. On both sides of the project, in Mozambique and Canada, I appreciated the way people worked as a team – inside each country – and linked together internationally.”
Joanne’s hope is that “the project would continue based on reciprocity and mutual learning exchanges. We are not there to ‘save you’, but to do the work side by side – on what Mozambicans define as their needs. They are doing the work on the ground, and there is much that we as Canadians can learn from them as we tackle issues of health and development here.”
Denise Kouri and Don Kossick stated, “Joanne recently received a well-deserved Global Citizen Award from Saskatchewan Council for International Cooperation. In our 20 years of working with Joanne it is a well-deserved recognition of how she contributed so much to international development work with dedication, competence, friendship and solidarity.”