Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A sad farewell to a true professional

Sunday was a sad day as we farewelled staff member Greg Wright. Greg joined the GVI Laos field staff team in April 2011, having been a volunteer in the project’s early days for 10 weeks. Very quickly Greg’s skills in administration, accounting and logistics came to the fore and together with the Laos team brought the project into the technological era of spreadsheets, cloud-based storage, and a most impressive database which has revolutionised the back-end work on the project. Teaching was never his bag he said, but luckily there were dozens of other areas he could employ his many talents.

A quiet, wry, generous, funny, hard-working, dedicated, loyal, steadfast and caring person, Greg cemented his valuable place in the team both as a reliable colleague and also a support for the volunteers. Some volunteers had far more to do with Greg than they would have liked as he took them off to hospital and slept overnight in the outdoor hospital hallway to care for them. For that, far too many of our volunteers are eternally grateful. Greg also had the interesting but entirely unfortunate experience of escorting a gravely ill volunteer to Bangkok by emergency air ambulance, and stayed with her through the surgery and recovery. Incredible!

Greg worked out that he took volunteers to hospital on average once every 10 days....and mostly due to largely avoidable dehydration, so he developed 4 rules which became his motto..Rule Number 1: Drink Water. Rule Number 4: Drink water! Greg gave newly arrived volunteers a warm welcome at the airport, an awesome town walk to orient them, and a thorough H&S briefing to keep everyone safe. But Greg also did a thousand other jobs many of them never saw. In fact Greg always said, “If you don’t see me, that’s a good thing. If you see me rushing around things are going wrong!” Nevertheless, Greg always handled things with calm and professionalism – a true asset to the project.

The Aussie Bar will miss Greg and his regular Sunday night Chicken Parmas, the Arthouse will miss his ginger tea and hamburger orders and Joma will be less profitable without his regular sundaes and coffees. But mostly the Laos team will sorely miss having a proudly Kiwi, pseudo-Australian rugby-loving techno geek with us. Good luck Greg! All the best in your next adventure.