ImpactNetworkJulyLast month, our team lost one of its most beloved and dedicated members – our Operations Manager, Edward Mwale.

I met Edward back in 2013 when he was first hired. We spent a lot of that first trip discussing our families and our hopes for the future of Zambia. Each visit I made, I got to know the man himself a little bit more. Edward emanated happiness and hope, no matter how dire the situation or how difficult the obstacle.

From Edward, I learned three valuable lessons over our two years of almost daily communication. I want to share those with you today, in the hope of honoring his memory and one day fulfilling his goal to help the students of Zambia succeed.

01 | Think bigger than the population you are serving.

When making big decisions for the organization, I used to ask myself one main question: What is best for students? Our goal is to serve our 2,000 students with a high-quality education – to me, the fundamental question was always in relation to the students, but Edward always thought broader than that. In his initial months with the organization, of his own volition, he started a technology training program for our teachers, helping them to grow their computer skills. More recently, he piloted an adult education program for community members and taught them a variety of subjects over the school break. Edward taught me to put more emphasis on questions like: What is best for teachers? What is best for families? What is best for community members?

02 |  Always remember the Joy Factor.

My cousin always talks about the “joy factor” in her line of work, which is also education. However, I never gave it much thought. Yes, having fun at work is a nice bonus, but the work we do is rigorous and serious. So, I thought our attitude should reflect that. Knowing Edward has changed that for me. Edward was part DJ, part chess player, part video producer, part student, and part teacher – in everything he did, he mixed equal parts of hard work and determination with fun. As a result, we learned to smile when things didn’t seem to be going our way.

03 | Be better.

Every meeting I ever had with Edward, he came with a long list of questions, notes, and suggestions for improvements to drill me with, bringing new ideas to every table, and a refreshing energy on a hot Zambian day. He never tired of his desire to improve our programs, better ourselves, and enrich our world. He had the heart and determination to make the world a better place, and always strived to improve the education and opportunities provided to those around him.

Life is so fragile. I cannot tell you how much he will be missed, but I wake up every day, more eager to serve our students, families, and communities because of him and his memory.

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Editorial Collaborator: Reshma Patel of Impact Network has joined conscious to produce a monthly column to educate us about the processes involved in developing schools within rural communities of Zambia. She points out the many aspects of growing a school and working with the local communities to sustain it. Read our interview with Impact Network here and follow the monthly column here.