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Knowing how much I don’t know

Updated: Apr 21, 2020

As you may have heard or seen, the SIA website was hacked yesterday. I got a dreaded email from Google warning me that the site would temporarily be marked as hacked until I got it cleared up. Yikes! And so two hours passed in the blink of an eye as I tried to figure out what I needed to do and how to do it…

I’m pretty tech-savvy and there are still moments with the website where I feel like I’m in the deep-end trying to stay above water. I told this to my husband and he reassured me that it’s a common feeling and that this kind of experience pushes us to grow, to expand beyond our comfort zone.

Things I don’t know: Prized speakers are transported by motorbike (boda-boda) to play praise music by generator in the evening.

Of course, I agree. It’s just that I usually prefer to at least have my nose above water as I’m pushing, learning, growing, and experiencing new things. Sometimes with websites I’m not even sure if there is a bottom to the pool. In other words, yesterday I had one of those moments when I realize just how much I really don’t know or understand.

And I’ve learned that the best response to this kind of moment – when the vastness of the world and the limitation of my expertise is broadcast in front of me – is to turn to those who know and be grateful for them.

It’s true with the internet (we paid a nominal fee to get the website cleaned and verified by professionals), with electricians (don’t ask how long we worked at installing a new fixture before surrendering), and also with working in Africa.

SIA Small Business Fund local coordinator Nalu Prossy (Uganda) shares her knowledge with the other coordinators at our conference in Uganda.

Partnering with people in different countries, with different cultures, is a good opportunity to practice surrender and call in the professionals. This, in essence, was the goal of the SIA Small Business Fund Coordinator’s Conference we held in Uganda this summer. Each is implementing the same program while applying their intimate knowledge of the situation and customs in their own community. The conference was a chance for the six coordinators to share what they do to adapt the program to their community and to learn from each other.

It was pretty easy for me to admit when I started this job that I didn’t know the first thing about training someone to run a small business in rural Malawi. The coordinators know though. They know not to distribute the grants right before school fees are due. They know that illiterate parents can ask their children to help them fill out the forms. They know that buying livestock is a way to invest savings. And I know that there’s even more that they know that I don’t know. You know?

Seven years after starting my work with SIA, my nose is beginning to emerge above water – so to speak – especially after two trips to Africa. And, every day, I celebrate with gratitude our local coordinators who really know what they’re doing.

P.S. The website is all clean and safe now! Thanks for your patience!

Godfrey Matovu (Uganda) and Canaan Gondwe (Malawi) share with a women’s group in Kasozi Village, Uganda. Each coordinator has different expertise to share with groups, me, and the other coordinators.

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