You are here

Leadership conference fosters creative solutions and full-scale growth

Habitat for Humanity Africa/Middle East hosted its annual finance and leadership conference 22 September to 2 October in Benoni, South Africa, focusing on the theme “Leading Change and Achieving Scale.”

National directors from throughout the region attended the ambitious two-week session, along with finance managers, a few representatives from Habitat headquarters in the United States, and one member of the International Board of Directors. Jonathan Reckford, CEO of HFHI, took part by teleconference, and Chaplain Rendell Day was on hand to help lead daily devotions and conduct Sunday worship at the Kopanong Hotel and Conference Center.

“The purpose of the conference is to celebrate the achievements of the past year, while taking time to reflect on our collective experience and potential for future HFH programmes,” outgoing area vice president Matthew Maury wrote in a welcome letter to all 88 conference participants.


Dani Tayar, national director of HFH Lebanon, does his posterboard presentation.



Finance leaders from A/ME and national offices try their hand at drumming.

This year’s theme was chosen based on input from national directors throughout the region. Given the tremendous needs in Africa and the Middle East, many national directors had expressed a strong interest in scaling up their efforts to serve more families and transform more communities into places where everyone has a decent shelter.

In lively and interactive sessions, HFH leaders shared innovative ideas and success stories in disaster response, house construction, fund raising, creating new partnerships and redefining the traditional Habitat housing model to address some of the most pressing issues in Africa and the Middle East – using microfinance loans for creative housing solutions and partnering with community-based organizations to provide support for a burgeoning population of orphans and vulnerable children.

Between conference sessions, participants recharged their batteries with fire dancing, drumming, spirited games of volleyball, fierce competitions in paintball and a little shopping. After the exhausting, informative two-week conference, the national directors stayed in South Africa for a two-day leadership summit, a time for more motivational, inspirational fellowship.

A post-conference survey found that most participants found the sessions very relevant to the work they’re doing in their countries. An interactive workshop on managing change, led by HFHI’s Paul Hamalian, got especially high marks, along with a panel discussion facilitated by Matthew Maury.

“Most participants found it relevant,” said Meaka Biggs, organizational learning specialist at A/ME. “The leaders were essentially saying, ‘We’re all learning still; we don’t know all the answers. This is a discussion of what we’ve done, what we’ve learned, and the way forward.’ ”