Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Power of a Well Placed "NO"!

Today I had the privilege of meeting Veronica Kgabo, principal and founder of Diepsloot Combined School. Veronica had a vision of quality education for the children of the rough and tumble, sprawling Diepsloot area. Veronica's vision took root on an arid, stony 2 acres of land less than 6 years ago. She has nurtured that vision into a lively, cheerful place crowded with tiny, prefab structures and scarred shipping containers that were transformed into classrooms where young minds are ignited with new ideas and children are challenged with the highest of educational standards.

Veronica is a saavy woman...saavy enough to say "no, thank you" as often as she says "yes, thank you." And after this afternoon in her presence, I would offer a guess that it is saying "no" as often as she says "yes" which has made her vision flourish and grow.

When Veronica took her small staff to a rubbish heap that surrounded the school grounds on 2 sides, she swept her arm across the expanse of nasty and proclaimed it would now be their new soccer field. When mothers and fathers of her students came and offered to sort through the rubbish, Veronica said, "yes, thank you." When the church across the way offered assistance with leveling the field, Veronica said "yes, thank you." But when she was offered a tractor for maintaining the field and cutting the grass, Veronica said "no".

Veronica said, "How can I take care of a tractor?" Where will the money come for fuel? No tractor, thank you. But if you would like to keep the tractor and use it here every month, I will be happy for you to do that. But please,a tractor would be a burden, not a blessing."

And when a donor very generously said, "I would like to give you computers.", Veronica again said "no". "How will I maintain computers? And how will I keep them updated? For I know that once they are here, problems will arise and you will not be here to fix them."

But when, another donor, Rentworks, arrived and offered to give Veronica's school 62 computers, they also offered to come every 2 weeks to maintain and update them. And when these computers and the active and ongoing participation of the donor was secured, Veronica said, "yes, thanks"!

Saying no is a problem for those of us in the asking business. It is often difficult to turn down the generous offers of donors, no matter how ill-fitting the gift might feel. For the wrong gift can become a burden to an organization, slowing the development toward goals and the realization of a mission.

Veronica's vision has been solidified with her no-saying as well as her many yes's, as she has taken the school from 180 students to 1800 in less than six years.

Today, I learned from Veronica Kgabo the power of a well placed "NO". I hope I will employ that little word with as much positive force as she has at Diepsloot Combined.

And by the way, Veronica Kgabo said "yes, please!" to a partnership with Infinite Family. We will be lucky to have such a wise partner who will teach us much as we walk this road together.

I'm so glad we weren't given a well placed "no"! Thank you, Veronica Kgabo!

1 comment:

Patricia said...

Hi Dana, glad you safely arrive. Yes, this sounds like a wonderful woman with big heart.
I was wondering if you have had a chance to meet Patricia at the haven? Did you get my note to her. I know you are SO VERY BUSY, but I was just wondering. God Bless Patricia