Doreen Nyamwija shares lessons learned through working at the Iona Centres, Scotland
One of the practical things that attracted me to work here, after my time as a volunteer, was seeing people with normally big or important roles working alongside people with less important roles.
For example, after seeing Sharon, the Deputy Director, and the rest of the team (whom she oversaw) washing the dishes together, I was humbled. To me, this was a symbol of discipleship, being servants to one another. We need more leaders than bosses in this world. Things may not always be as good as they should be on Iona, but this kind of “discipleship leadership” is still demonstrated in lots of different ways here. I pray and hope it spreads.
During the season, I tell volunteers that I am their line manager but I am always open to new ideas. Knocking down the building and rebuilding it in a day might be wishful thinking, but ideas that are within our means and practical, we can consider.
People often come up with good ideas to improve something that irritates them. For example, one of the volunteers hated the fact that the kitchen in the MacLeod Centre got very congested when everyone was trying to set up the tables for meals; he hated people coming one by one to wash their hands in the kitchen. So, I asked him what his solution would be. He suggested installing a sink in the common room, which would reduce the congestion in the kitchen. Later I told my line manager, who took it further, and now this has been done and does make a big difference. People often think that the sink has always been there or wonder how this could not have been pointed out before.
Doreen Nyamwija holds a business degree in entrepreneurship and for four years worked as the head housekeeper for the MacLeod Centre on the Isle of Iona, Scotland. She has established a charity providing accessible toilets for schools across Uganda, and she is currently working to build an accessible bed and breakfast for locals and visitors in Uganda, where she lives with her husband and their two children. To find out more about her B&B project and how to support it, visit the website here or email her at Nyamwijadoreen@gmail.com.
This piece is an excerpt from Doreen's book Never Give Up: My Life Story from Uganda to Iona (Cloister House Press, 2017).