Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Fight or Flight?

Today and yesterday have been incredibly stressful.
For a long time now, my Dad and I have been working with an online fundraising platform to find a nonprofit partner for SISCO, so that we can be registered with an official nonprofit and have a tax-deductible, legally recognized, online way to fundraise and continue our support of the school. With the recent financial ban on West Africa, our former way of continuing the scholarship is no longer an option anyway, and the situation has become more complicated. I was supposed to get into contact with two men involved with the organization while I was here, to go through this registration process with Worfa in person, but both numbers ended up being dead ends. This process that I understand so little about had ground to a halt yet again. And I went into a downward spiral of frustration that ended with me laying on the floor of our living room crying. If that sounds like a three-year-old's tantrum, just ignore the similarity. It was a perfectly rational adult reaction to discouragement.

You see, nothing can make you feel quite so crushingly small as trying to take on the problems of the world. Too often I focus on trying to do it all, instead of focusing on doing what I can. There's no quicker way to feel beaten down. I have always believed that there is a reason I came to Aflao and the Gomashie home instead of someone else, but I question whether I am the right person for this job nearly constantly. I don't have the benefit of age or experience or special skills. I come with nothing except a whole lot of love for the people in my African community. I wish that were enough, but what good is a bleeding heart without the strength and practicality and resources to support it? The responsibility I feel towards this school and its students seems overwhelming. The obvious solution is to get SISCO registered as part of the nonprofit so I can just do the fun part- fundraising!- without worrying about trying to manage everything directly. But when this process has been so frustratingly slow, even the solution to my problem seems too problematic, and it takes everything in me not to go into full-out avoidance mode. How many times have I wanted to shake my fist at the universe and say, "I am just a college student! Find someone better qualified!"

I was in such a funk yesterday and the better part of today that even being at the school and witnessing everything that we (and this is a grand 'we' that includes hundreds of people, including many of you reading this right now) have accomplished so far was only more discouraging. The decisions that Worfa, the nonprofit organization, and myself make will affect nearly a dozen jobs, and several hundred kids' educations. Thoughts kept racing around my head, "What if it all falls apart? What if we can't give these kids everything we've hoped to? Everything they deserve? What if the partner doesn't work out? What if we wait too long and by the time I go home, the ban prevents me from doing anything with SISCO's money? What if we use that money now when we should have waited??" What if...what if...what if... It's one of the most magical phrases in the world, but it has a dark side.

It took a lot of desperate praying and some quiet time with my loved ones to clear my head and bring back some of the stubbornness I typically have in spades. "Ok," I told myself, "It's time to fight. The living room floor will always be here when you get back."
A half dozen emails and phone calls later- and with the help of a Dad in shining armor- I have a phone appointment with our prospective partner tomorrow, a meeting with a trusted mentor who is the headmaster of a successful school on Friday, plans to get estimates for some potential projects...and a little bit of hope back in the reserves.


  1. My little warrior!! You go Girl!! Dad has your back and he carries a big sword.

  2. My Dear Kattah!
    I am so glad you got your stubborness back! I am missing you so much! Keep up the hard work. When you get back, I look forward to finding you and we will go out and play! How does tubing down a river with a cooler full of Amaretto Sours sound? We will find a time and get the girls together to celebrate your return and triumphs overseas! I will always be there for you. Ta-roo Ta-roo Ta-roo. :)
    Love you Kattah,
    The Kat-Blob.

  3. Of all people, you, Katherine, will be able to do this. With your ambition, yearning and support of your family, YOU WILL DO IT! It is all to help mankind and we need many more people like you!!!!