Pockets of Amazement

Pockets of Amazement

When doing life straight outta Africa, there are illusions and mysteries that happen daily that are unexplainable, unbelievable, and downright bizarre.

Short example, you’re working on a tech build for a new app and one day your developer disappears. No warning, no heads up, no letter left under the door. He just falls off the map! He gives no response to your calls or whatsapps.

Then, he calls you two weeks later and said he had to deal with a few things. Of course he’s sorry and he also understands your frustration and anger, but life made some harsh demands!

Another example: if you have a new baby, labor might not be the hardest part. Acquiring the new child's birth certificate takes longer and could be more painful. Queues, paperwork, more queues, and the pounding question: what’s happening behind that approval counter?

If you want to build a new orphanage, our friends on the ground tell us they’ve often had to go to ten offices at social welfare to get them to just look at architectural drawings and approve.

We had a nonprofit partner once who came over and blazed trails in a local community but did so without acquiring local permits. Talk about a mess to clean up.

Did you know that according to the Social Welfare laws you can’t share faces of the actual children? It’s to prevent exploitation. And it’s actual a very wise law in theory.

But when I was in Los Angeles last year, I was stopped on the sidewalk by a nonprofit who was raising funds for orphans in Zimbabwe. They had no idea about the social welfare laws. Then they made some statement about how their team probably did a search on Google for "Zimbabwean kids” and used those images in their marketing. That is so backwards. Someone’s always being exploited no matter how you try to avoid it.

There are pockets of amazement that pop up daily. You have to see the humour, the brilliance, and the joyous sitcom moments when they arise.

You must also set flexible expectations. They must bend or they will break your heart. Grown men have cried trying to keep a schedule here. Filing for a micro-finance license may take all year. That’s how it works. [Note: This is not right or profitable for anyone in the long term.]

Being realistic and working those unknowns into your strategy is key for your sanity and longterm sustainability. That’s where the battle is

(photo via hiroo yamagata)