Merry Christmas, goodbye and thank you!

December 15th, 2015

At the end of December I’ve chosen to leave Practical Action after 15 years. For me it’s time for a new challenge and I’ll start 2016 full of the spirit of adventure – news of any challenging opportunities gratefully received. I’m excited to explore what next.

But I leave too with great hope and great sadness.

Hope because of the transformation I’ve seen in the lives of people who work together with Practical Action across Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Because of the brilliance of our education work which is helping European citizens think differently about technology, poverty, and our world. We need to work for a changed world together.

And because of our work at Practical Action on knowledge – maximising the impact of everything we do, and helping others share their learning through podcasts, answering enquiries on a one to one basis often face to face, our call centre serving farmers and fisherfolk in Bangladesh, web based info in Peru….. and so much more. I first came to know Practical Action through Practical Action Publishing and remain a huge fan. Today our work on knowledge – sharing rather than hoarding – helps millions of people each year. It’s just amazing!

I not only hope, but know, Practical Action will continue to make a difference in our world – providing practical solutions to poverty, working together with communities, sharing learning and respecting the finite nature of our planet.

But I also feel sadness.

Sadness because I leave a great group of people – committed individually and as a global organisation to helping communities escape poverty. Their passion, hard work, dedication to inclusive development is just amazing.  I will miss all of the Practical Action teams for different reasons – but the golden thread throughout is their commitment.

Sadness too because I’ve had some great times – I remember listening to two amazing children in a remote village in Bangladesh talk not only about Practical Action but their aspirations for their lives, laughing with women in Zimbabwe building a micro hydro who when I tried to help discovered how weak I am, and the posher things too – talking at conferences, meetings with our Patron, HRH, The Prince of Wales, exploring ideas and work with big business, even being forced to give impromptu speeches in various parts of the world. I’ll miss lots of things I’ve got to do with Practical Action – it’s been challenging, exciting and fun.

But my biggest sadness is that we haven’t achieved what we set out to do – the lives of many people are better, access to energy for poverty reduction is now firmly on the global agenda, and indoor air pollution ‘Smoke – The killer in the Kitchen’ (the first Practical Action campaign I led – together with the brilliant team) is recognised as a major health hazard  – but technology – which could help so many people and issues, is still is developed primarily to meet the wants of the rich not the needs of all and our planet.  I am not in any way arguing that technology is all that’s needed to change our world but technology is a lever, a way of making a difference in a big way – people talk about systemic change (big picture, the long term). Technology can be a driver of systemic change – a different approach to technology, one that focused on the big challenges in our world would be soooo exciting!

One of the things I like about Practical Action is that we work with the pragmatic, the possible, the now, but we also dream of bigger change – a world where technology is used to help end poverty and protect our planet.

Whatever I do next I will continue painting a picture of the exciting and different way our world could be.

And finally in what’s turned out to be a much longer piece than I imagined – I want to say goodbye to our supporters – you have inspired, challenged, enthused and humbled me, and you are brilliant!

Have a wonderful Christmas.  And I hope we all – around the world – have a brilliant and peaceful 2016.

Margaretdarfur boy with goats


Ps The picture is of a boy in Darfur, Sudan where I saw some of the most amazing work Practical Action was doing in the middle of conflict, and through our work trying to lessen conflict. Reminded me that change is possible.

4 responses to “Merry Christmas, goodbye and thank you!”

  1. Sara Eltigani Elsharif Says:

    Dear Margaret Gardner,
    Thank you for all the cooperation that you extended to Sudan office. There is a saying that good things should come to an end.I would like to appreciate you as a good boss who inspired me a lot in so many ways.More power and God bless

  2. Tayeb Elasma Muhammad Says:

    Hiii Ms Gardner, I’ve just read all your message is a full of achievements and good , interesting times and moments you spent, actually leaving people after spending long time with them something is very difficult and sad at the same time but this nature of world (being in change always) so i wanna to thank you for the letter and wish you merry Christmas and happy holiday (Happy New Year) as you said I wish for all of us happy , interesting and peaceful 2016.

  3. Nazmul Says:

    Its a great sadness to say you good bye from the beautiful family. It was my pleasure to know you in person. You are so passionate all the time to support and help our work. It was my pleasures to run several campaigns for PA, where your leadership was vital for all the pisitive outcomes. You are so great all the time. Please do not say good bye, the world is like a big village and we all are living under the same sky and sharing same air and rain. Hope to see you somewhere in bigger role for the service of mankind. Pls keep in touch. Merry Christmas and very Happy and productive New Year. Kind regards Nazmul

  4. Joseph Hwani Says:

    They say we meet to part but personally I don’t like the parting part of it. I really enjoyed your ever smiling and joyous mood, especially during meetings. You really made it to be interesting and more comfortable. As they also say we part to meet, I hope we will still be meeting and sharing the good development experiences and testimonies.
    All the best and stay blessed always

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