The last week has been a whirlwind. We had our peaks (and quite a few valleys) with the kids, the school year ends for them this week, work is busy (not always in a good way) and there is paperwork. Oh, the paperwork. Do you know how much paperwork goes into forming a Not-For-Profit? A lot. It’s practically blinding. But, it needs to get done. Fundraisers need to be dreamed up. The list goes on and on. It’s an exciting list. Plans are constantly being discussed to create something…sustainable. I threw a lot of my own money away last time. Every penny that I collected in donations went over and I used it directly to purchase food, but my own money, well, some of it is gone. It’s discouraging to start all over, but time marches on and heals some of the wounds of the past.
This time it’s about using the lessons that I learned last time to never repeat the same mistakes. It’s about reading a lot, talking with people who have done it, meeting good Ghanaians to help create something that lasts. Because last time was, well, last time. I never want to go back there again. So, this time it’s about trusting myself and using my business and mom instincts. Those instincts got my kids home. When the advice didn’t feel right, I didn’t listen to it. The other Out of Africa 2010 moms and I put one foot in front of the other, took the advice we were given and sorted it ourselves. We came out okay. I’m applying that same advice again. I’m also applying some very important pieces of advice that came from some strangers along the way.
At one point in the long journey to get our kids, we were told to judge people based on their actions, not what we had been told about them in the past. We were asked to wipe the slate clean, walk in like we had no knowledge of supposed past events, and just ask for their help. If they asked for something in return, then we would know their true character. None of the people who actually helped us ever asked for anything. This advice has become priceless. I was asked to set aside what I thought I knew about someone and move forward. Coincidentally, it also applied in reverse when I got home. There were people I thought I knew, but didn’t really at all. I had to set aside what I thought I knew about them to really see them for who they are. The whole picture wasn’t always so pretty and sometimes it had been painted black by someone else. Finding the truth is never easy. I’m thankful that I think I’ve finally found it.
We were also told that the only way to create something sustainable is to work with the government, not against them. If you want to make a change, you go in through the front door and handle yourself with honesty and dignity. No back door deals, no shady transactions. If the government doesn’t want my help, I have an option to change the way I’m offering help, or to move on. It is the only way to make it last. This advice also became invaluable. It covers everything I hope to do in the future. Honesty, integrity and dignity. I have to keep reminding myself of that as I trudge through this paperwork.
whose pen is dry and feels Carpal Tunnel coming on from all these forms.