Eight years ago believing it best for our Orphan's Care Center in South Africa, we decided to turn the center over to a board of wonderful South Africans, and return to the United States. Unexpectedly, years-long supporters turned into ardent critics.
Reasons for the decision were sound. As our Orphan's Care Center grew it was evident that South African resources were needed to secure assistance in dealing with the increasing numbers of orphans. In hand with this, was a need to increase staff and expertise to meet the ever increasing demands.
Now, while money was plentiful from donors in the United States for the actual construction of the facilities, funds dried up all most entirely for staff training, development, and salaries. Some very gracious donors from other countries stepped up to the plate. Soon I realized what was best, and in accordance with South African laws, the Head of this NPO, Not for Profit Organization, would indeed need to be South African. As we reconstructed the board, a very capable South African took over the reins. My twenty-two years had come to a successful end.
Returning to the States, the criticism we received from some of our supporters was crushing. I remember hearing the words by a person whose only exposure to Africa was a three week trip to visit us, "So, you're a quitter now?" Another supporter informed me that he felt betrayed. Their contribution towards our Orphan's Care Center was $75.00 per month. It was if I'd burned my bridges with my supporters over doing what was actually best for the organization.
As of the most recent reports received from South Africa, fifty-two staff are employed at our Orphan Care Center most of which are doctors and medical staff. Hundreds of people are being treated for HIV-AIDS, and hundreds of workers are being trained to care for thousands of orphan children. And, some great research is being done to combat HIV-AIDS at the Qhakaza Mbokoda Research Clinic which also resides at the facility!
More importantly perhaps, is the hundreds of Care-Givers that are trained to take care of thousands of orphans in the Northern Natal area of South Africa. Literally, thousands of children see hope because of this center. And, what is the key to all of this? The Orphans Care Center is led by African leaders, paid for with African money, and owned by African people.
Clearly, stepping aside as director in favor of a South African team proved best. I am very glad I did not listen to the critics. Even though our decision was not celebrated by many of our supporters, I celebrate it today as the most effective and efficient decision made.
Sometimes with leadership comes the inevitability of leading from the middle of an arena surrounded by spectators in the stands; many of which judge your every move. Criticism is part of leadership. What secures a leader is the knowledge and conviction that what that leader does is right and best for everyone concerned.
In the end, right decisions are based on truth. Good leaders make their decisions based on truth. Truth always prevails.