From the Founders: I Can See Clearly Now

By Ilana Shushansky

I was asked this week to write about my ‘ahha’ moment during camp, the moment that made starting VOICE worthwhile.  

Well I am deviating from the assignment a bit by writing about the moment that I knew VOICE would be a success. Not that I didn’t have full confidence in our project from day 1, but well, maybe I didn’t.  With a start-up there is always that inkling of uncertainty that the idea won’t catch on; that the product won’t suit the need well enough; that there just won’t be any interest.  

Below is the moment when my inkling of uncertainty in VOICE vanished: 

One afternoon the in-charge at New Little Scholars School (NLSS), Rachel, sat me down to plead.  NLSS has two branches; Kismathpur, which has about 800 students from nursery to Class 10, and Dargah, which has only 350 students from nursery to Class 7.

Because I worked mainly at Dargah last year I wanted the girls there to be involved in camp.  I told the girls about the program and that we could have 25 Dargah girls and 25 Kismathpur girls enroll, figuring I would get maybe 10 girls from my smaller branch.

I then went out of town for a week and when I returned 27 girls from Dargah had already returned their enrollment forms and fees, and the English teacher organizing the effort on my behalf showed me at least 5 more girls on the list who were interested.  Rachel knew that I had given Dargah a cap of 25, so this is when she came to me.

She explained how excited all the girls were to attend camp and how excited their parents were as well. 

Rachel assured me that the Dargah girls were large enough in numbers and committed enough to have their own camp, so that I would not have to turn anyone away.  If you return the fees and disallow any one girl, her parents will come and complain to me…why have you not taken my child…so you should take all girls from here.

And the same happened across all the schools we talked to at the beginning of last summer. 

While at first we were nervous about reaching our target enrollment, we ended up emotionally struggling with having to turn girls away.

Although this was not easy, I thought it was an extremely good sign for the future of VOICE.  Knowing that just the idea behind our camp was demanded enough to have to turn campers away in its pilot year, gave me all the certainty I needed.

Have you ever had an “ah’ha” moment in your journey with a cause or organization that alleviated any doubts or that encouraged you to keep moving? 

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