I was at the Cincinnati airport Friday at 7am having taken the red eye, and scraping snow and frozen sleet from the car in the predawn six degrees. Without a winter coat. Only twelve hours earlier, I was in San Francisco at an outdoor cafe having lunch in 67 degree sunshine.
But I got home, and just as I was dead tired and feeling sorry for myself with a cold coming on, I started reading Friday’s comments on the Sherbro Foundation website. And you immediately warmed my heart.
I never expected to get as strong and positive a response to Sherbro Foundation as we have received this past year – our first year of existence. Nine months actually. When you start a new, somewhat obscure nonprofit with a couple family and friends, you hope to just get through the first year.
When create your first website and start your first blog, you feel kind of naked. You’re putting yourself out there for everyone to see and judge. With the Internet, this literally means anyone in the world.
The website went public at the end of May. In our first seven months, we’ve had over 4000 views (pages viewed). This is probably not so remarkable, especially given I’m still stumbling through how to optimize the site being found on search requests. But, for me, 4000+ was good.
What surprised me was that you visited the site from 52 countries! Even Cambodia, Bhutan, Chile, Ecuador, and Jordan.
But it was the nature of the comments that surprised me more.
- You said the site provided important info about rural day-to-day life in Sierra Leone you can’t find elsewhere.
- You found the website content to be high quality.
- You think the projects we’re supporting are worthwhile and important to do.
- You’re enthusiastic about the blog, and forward it on to others as an example of a “good” blog.
- You think the website is attractive and well designed. (Thank you Word Press for making that so easy.)
To hear these comments means a lot. Informing people on life in today’s rural Sierra Leone is a primary objective for the foundation. To be told you write a strong blog, is more than I ever expected to hear as a brand new blogger. Remember, I was a 30 year Procter & Gamble technical manager, where creative writing was not something we learned. But we did learn about clarity of thought.
To know that people are behind you in the work you’re trying to accomplish means everything.
Someone asked me for my advice on writing a blog. I said, it’s all about having something to say that you personally know about and strongly believe in. Then it just flows. Yes, you still need to edit and reduce the conversational prose. But it starts with having something authentic to say. My experience in rural Sierra Leone is my own personal journey, and one I feel strongly about.
A couple people said I could improve the blog with more pictures and videos. I fully agree. My material is all the real thing from my own trips, or occasionally something topical from a colleague in Sierra Leone or a newspaper there. As I make more trips there, I’ll strive for more media as illustration. Initially, I didn’t want to be a tourist and have a camera come between me and people I’m trying to develop a relationship with. Trips there are long (24 hours door to door), expensive, and most people would say arduous. Not something you casually or frequently do.
If you have questions or comments, don’t hold back. Feedback is how one gets better. If there’s something you’d like me to address, let me know and I’ll do my best to try. Advice would be most welcome.
The people in Sierra Leone and Bumpeh Chiefdom appreciate your support. I’m fortunate to work with people there who have a strong vision, and the capability and commitment to deliver on that. Sherbro Foundation is following and supporting their excellent lead.
So, wishing you a very Happy New Year. I hope you stay in touch with Sherbro Foundation to see what we’re doing in 2014. It promises to be an even better year.