Saturday, March 7, 2009

Islands of achievement

Last week was not good.

Nothing was working. Well, except the SHONA craftspeople, they were working fine.

But that is only half the battle. The other half requires selling what they have made.

We recently opened our own online store, which was exciting, and ever since then I have been wading through information trying to figure out how to attract traffic to our website and to our store. This seems to involve completing a million tasks which may or may not ever bear fruit. I spent days registering with search engines, writing metatags, joining forums, and trying to figure out how to get people to link to our website. And I may never know if it made any difference. You just have to throw it out there and hope for the best.

Meanwhile, the electricity kept disappearing. And when the electricity was on, my internet connection kept disappearing. And I kept asking myself who in their right mind tries to run an online business in a place with unreliable electricity and internet speeds that the US hasn't seen for at least ten years.

So I felt a bit isolated.

But today I received an email from a woman who wrote to inform me of her research on "islands of achievement"...and that phrase really resonated with me. Perhaps not the achievement part, but the island part. While working on her Master's Degree, she researched “islands of achievement within failed or fragile states” and she realized that there were a lot of local people around the world rebuilding their lives and their communities in the midst of larger chaos and conflict. After she finished her masters degree she was struck by the fact that many people haven't had the chance to hear these stories, and she started a website to bring people together and tell these stories. She was writing me to inform me that she had just written an article about the SHONA women and it is posted on their website, along with over 400 other stories.

We are an island of achievement! Visit her website, not because we are there (although that is good also) but because it is a fascinating place to see what regular people are doing throughout the world.

Their article on SHONA

The main page of the website:

And then she informed me that she had compiled her article from an article about us on
ITnews We are on the front page of their website right now!. And we didn’t even know it! I guess something I did last week worked after all. Check it out!

I deeply appreciate the willingness of both these website to seek us out and share our story. I appreciate the chance for SHONA to be “seen” by others. I would like to believe that I am humble, but I have to admit that it is really hard to work on something day after day and feel invisible. And I do start to feel like an island.

But what I found most inspiring was the opportunity to visit the beautiful "hopebuilding" website and read the stories of so many others. Because if we are all doing it, then we aren’t really isolated after all. And that is the gift of this website…check it out!

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