I’m not crying…

I sometimes cry but I don’t consider myself as an easy cryer. Last time I cried was at the funerals of one of my friend’s mother. I didn’t know her but I knew him and I have a mother. Seeing the pain on his face and on the ones of other people at the church that day broke my heart. But that was a special occasion and the kind for which even stone hearts sometimes cry. The only other times I usually cry are while watching sad movies or reading books. I have sometimes cried for boys too but that was a very very very long time ago. And please let’s not mention it. I have cried the first Eid i spent away from home. Yes it might look like a lot but I still don’t consider myself as an easy cryer. I rarely cry while saying goodbye. The only time I can remember goes back to 7 years ago after a trip to Ghana. I usually couldn’t understand why some students cry for bad grades in school. The only time I tried to cry because of school was in my last year of high school. I had troubles to understand a maths problem and I wanted so much to cry. But it didn’t happen. Maybe because I had promised myself never to cry because of school. The pain was there, oppressing my chest, but I didn’t cry. This is probably what is currently happening to me right now. I want to cry. The pain is here, loud and big, pressing my heart again, but I am not crying… yet. Maybe I will at the end of writing this text. But for now I don’t know.

I have been away of Centre Eulis for seven weeks now. I thought it would be easy. I actually made myself believe it will be fine but gosh it’s so hard. Yesterday I asked the librarian how things were going there. Bad. They are going bad. Kids are scarce at the library. Some of the ones that come don’t have money but at least they still work together. Parents visit and promise to come back the next day but never do so. She told me she was currently sitting in front of the building and it was quite embarrassing. It hurt me to read such news but I only asked her what does she propose to make things better. At some points she stopped replying and I assume it’s because she no longer had internet connexion. The best way for me to talk to her is to call her using Skype calls because she is not often on Facebook. There are many things that need to change to make an improvement. I don’t know where to start. Or maybe I know but I don’t put the work in it? I have always been a « be on the ground » person. Last year, I went back home during my Master program because I felt a huge need to see what was going on in my country. To ask people’s opinions. To discuss physically. I am the kind who believes she has to be there to make the change happening. Some people can stay far and work but I can’t or I haven’t figured out how yet.

Photo by Jean Marc

I know now that I probably should have stayed a little longer. That I should have walked through the baby steps of Centre Eulis before coming to china. Don’t get me wrong. I am enjoying the experience here. I am learning great stuffs and I had the opportunity to meet amazing people. But it’s hard to be far from my baby. I feel like I’ve let it down even if it’s just for few months. I feel like I didn’t have enough courage to push it further before leaving. I know I will be back and work on it. But yet… There are two more months before I can be there. How am I going to handle this time, to endure the distance? I am in that state where I believe no one else can push my vision better than me. Or maybe others can but not the ones I currently put in charge. Maybe because I didn’t transmit them that vision. That I wasn’t able to share that thing that burns inside me and makes me dream of something big. It’s painful to see that we’ve made such mistakes. Painful because you can’t even confide to other people. It’s not just because you don’t want to be in that kind of emotional fragility, vulnerability. It’s because it is even difficult to explain. You don’t know where to start, how to arrange your words, how to not feel even more guilty or lazy or coward, or the three at the same time.

I was reading this article where Befoune wrote about Ibuka’s saying that the most important is not the company but the customers, the audience, the people whose problems we are trying to solve. When did I forget about them? I never did so. Yet I know I missed a very big, huge point in setting up Centre Eulis. Something I knew I should have done because well, my professors told me that, and I said that to my students. Yet, I failed at Stakeholder Management. Miserably. I did collect feedbacks from some students before opening the library, but I didn’t get them properly. Not with focus groups. Not with much open questions. I came up with a solution to a problem and only asked them how to make that solution better. Not whether it actually suited them. It seemed quite obvious to me that they would enjoy the library and I failed to find out what exactly they consider as their issues and what else could be a solution. I didn’t talk to parents in the community. I assumed, for my defense, based on some students feedback, that the price of the service would be suitable for everyone. Yet, the librarian told me some kids do not have enough money to pay. Maybe it’s not even about the price, but about how we market the Center to the community. How do we make them understand the importance of getting additional education, knowledge outside school? I know it is important. But how do we tell kids that books are gardens of amazing wonder that can make them conquer the world? How do we tell parents with multiple worries that they should care about the education of their children and do more than struggling to pay the regular school fees?

It’s hard guys. Right now I don’t have a solution. I really want to call the librarian and try to discuss strategies but I don’t even have the heart to do so. Maybe this is what some entrepreneurs have talked about when mentioning the struggles of the job. I know mine is even nothing compared to what others are facing, but well it doesn’t make it less hard. As painful as it is, I believe this moment will be helpful. That it will give me the force and courage necessary to longer postpone what I have to do to reach my objective. To work so hard that even while facing future challenges, I will at least not blame myself for letting my dream go down, not even for the slightest minute. I hope it will make me dedicate more time and sweat to the people, the teenagers, the children that I want to help discover the world. And now that I’ve written this text. That I’ve cried ink on that white paper, I don’t feel any better but at least, I have put it out. I am going back to finish reading the post that triggered this flood of words.

This post was written two months ago. I only recently decided to publish it on Medium as I don’t have the energy to translate it in French for my main blog. I am just came back home and ready to face the challenges. Hopefully you will learn more about the journey here or on Leschroniquesdetchonte.com .