Posted By: Leshania Naicker, Global Regulatory Affairs Manager, Lifecycle Management, Small Molecules
A smile has always been the universal language of the world. Sadly, most smiles have recently been hidden behind masks. Of the many ways that life is different for us during the pandemic, being able to see others smile is one of the things I miss most.
Yet, when our Elanco team in South Africa and Sub-Sarahan Africa celebrated the 2020 Global Day of Purpose, I was captivated by the eyes of a young South African child. Still, today, looking at a photograph of her holding one of the food hampers our Elanco volunteers had provided her with, it warms my heart to see her sparkling eyes. Even though a mask covered her mouth and nose, I learned that eyes can smile, too!
Here’s the story behind this special smile:
It takes a team! Planning our annual volunteer event amid a global pandemic
Each year, colleagues around the world organize community service events for our Global Day of Purpose. When Elanco acquired Bayer Animal Health in August 2020, our team had grown significantly in size. But due to the COVID19 pandemic, half of the group I had only once seen virtually at the time. So the volunteer day in October presented a unique opportunity to bring our teams together for the first time.
Previously, I had organized volunteer events by myself but this time I extended an open invitation to everyone at the affiliate: Anyone who wanted to be a part of the planning was welcome to join. Quickly, a group of ten passionate colleagues stepped up, bringing both richness in ideas and helping hands for heavy lifting to successfully pull off a volunteer event amid a global pandemic.
Our behind-the-scenes team fondly became known as the “Ninjas”. I am still impressed by the attention to detail and care that each team member demonstrated. Their dedication to making the volunteer event a success became apparent with a long list of tasks that we all shared amongst each other, finally seeing it all coming together perfectly on the day of the event.
Teaming up with Africa Food for Thought
Addressing Elanco’s commitment to advancing food security, in 2020 our volunteer group chose to partner with the South African organization Africa Food for Thought. Their project for orphaned and vulnerable children provides food security for school children. Regular food donations help students focus at school, removing the burden to worry about where their next meal might come from.
A very special food drive
Supporting this initiative, our group developed the D.R.I.V.E Challenge (DareRealiseInvolveValueExperience). The challenge started virtually: We Dared our leadership to encourage participation, Realised the heart-wrenching statistics of worldwide hunger, Involved our families to implement simple ideas to address food waste in our own homes, and Valued the gifts of life through an exercise to write little notes of hope that would inspire a child receiving the food hampers.
The final element of the challenge was about an in-person volunteer Experience to pack food hampers to be distributed to families in need, together in partnership with Africa Food for Thought.
This beautiful experience made me realize that a “drive” is not just about the destination, it’s about the entire journey. As Cause Ambassadors at Elanco, all that we do helps us connect with our purpose. Giving back to our community is a unique way to experience that what we do matters. And, we always have extra fun by adding a little magic that celebrates the uniqueness of our region and what makes us Proudly Elanco South Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa!!
I am proud to be a part of an organization that has created a space for me to connect with my values and to be able to make an impact in another life. I am looking forward to GDOP 2021 and certainly, our Ninjas are too!
Now, we invite you to get into the car with our team and hear what drives them through this video.
The name is inspired by the Ninja Turtle cartoon and it describes a team of masked superheroes that “make things happen”.