When I started The Oshun Project it was because of my beliefs; the belief that people who are marginalized have the most important things to say, a belief that when you lift the lowest people of a society, society is elevated as a whole, and the idea that those who have had the hardest life are the ones to learn the most from were all motivators. So, doing projects around empowerment in Haiti was a natural choice of action. Where else was there all this opportunity to realize the beliefs that I hold? Our pilot project with MP3K – the solar powered water filtration system installation completed in 2013 in partnership with The Bower Hill Community Church – was a triumphant success and provided a foundation for us to build on. Yet, at some point things stopped working and I did no know what was off, nor how to get back on course with our projects.
I began to understand that the issue was my trying to do it all myself. Indeed, I had a great team of people working with me, yet I did not ask much of them because I was afraid they would abandon ship if I asked too much. The result was that I began to feel ran down and was overworked. All of the initial beliefs I had were well forgotten and all that there was in front of me were more and more obligations. I seriously thought about giving up the whole The Oshun Project thing. Luckily, for me I was smart enough to have a support system and a coach to guide me through the rough patches. My coach said things like, “Well, do you want to stop? Because you really can.” My answer was always the same, “Hell, no!” Even with knowing that I wanted to continue, I did not know how to change what I was doing that had me overworked and upset about it. The change came when I found myself unable to do anything at all. This when I started to see where adjustments could be made.
The first adjustments were that I had to begin doing those things which brought me pleasure and joy: dancing, taking fun trips, dinners with friends, playing with my nieces… These were things I had stopped doing because of my obligations – all of which I had created for myself and NO one was making me do. When I stopped and took the time for myself was when I could really see that I indeed needed to ask for help on a whole new level. I had to learn to let go and allow others to come up with ideas and execution strategies. Also, I found out that it was better to ask for something and hear a “no”, than to not ask at all out of fear. From making these small changes for myself first, I saw that there were changes that could have The Oshun Project sustainable in a whole new way.
We now are working with new people and creating new projects: an in-country liaison who writes our reports, Rochelin Forzene, continuing the community market, and developing the medical clinic proposal for assessment and resources. Now, I am reconnected to what first got me wanting to do such work and the best way for it to come into fruition.