Problem Solving – Lessons Learned in Life
Working as a Monitoring and Evaluation professional, my experience has been spread across different fields ranging from Early Childhood Development, Water and Sanitation, Food Security, Gender and Child Protection. In all these fields I came across complex situations that have seen me solving problems. In this blog, I will focus on my experience working in a Child Protection and Gender activism field.
Problem-solving sounds quite simple and straight forward but when faced with a situation that requires being resolved promptly is when your skills as a leader are put to test. I will share a personal experience that left me with some good lessons.
Working in a child protection project I managed data, supervised field officers who among other duties were managing cases and I provided direction on case referrals. In some cases, I could get on the ground and manage cases myself one of which I would like to share as an example for the topic.
To cut a long story short, during one of my monitoring visits to school dropouts, I established that one girl aged 16 had stopped attending school because she was made to perform marital duties with her stepfather, and this was an arrangement made by her mother in fear of losing her husband to young women. When I tried to understand what was going on, the mother confirmed that what I heard was true and she went on to justify that she had to make that arrangement to keep her husband around and not lose him for other village girls to safeguard the livelihood that the husband was providing for them.
I took up the case and worked with the Social Welfare which is under the government ministry of gender and the police where the husband was arrested, and the mother was pardoned to take care of her 5 children. The 16-year-old girl was provided with psychological support, assisted with scholastic materials and went back to school.
To sustain the family, the young girl got impregnated by her teacher, dropped out of school and got into an abusive marriage.
Analyzing this case, the solution we provided to this problem brought more harm than relief. What I learned from this case is that when solving problems a bottom-up approach should be used By way of example, the root causes should be tackled rather than just providing solutions to consequences. In this case, it was the poverty that exposed this woman and her daughter to abuse that had to be addressed first.
“We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them”
― Albert Einstein