I’m back from Derbycon 3, and I’m exhausted. I slept for 14 hours Sunday night but with all the travel and the jet lag, I’m still recovering. But I’m thankful and encouraged. Part of my goal of this con was to “turn over” HFC to you guys with the Volunteer Network. When I founded HFC, one of my primary goals was to get the hacker community involved in doing good stuff. I knew that “we” were much more powerful than “me”. I knew we could have a deep impact. It’s taken years to get the idea for the app together, launch it, debug it, rebuild it and relaunch it but finally, it’s done. The last thing to do was turn it over to the community and let you go for it.
At the end of my talk, I encouraged attendees to meet us at the booth if they wanted to get involved. Forty or so of you did just that, and that was encouraging. I was afraid that it had taken too long, and that everyone was ok with me doing the “fun stuff” here in Uganda. I knew (just knew) that many of you wanted to do more than send us money.. you wanted to get involved and this talk and this con confirmed that.
Needless to say, it was a great con. Dave and Erin and the rest of the Derbycon staff worked really hard and we raised lots of funds for our various programs. Thank you to everyone who worked the booth, bought stuff from the booth, helped out with shirts, donated items, made donations, donated items and so much more. So many of you took the time to encourage me, and that meant so much. It’s been a really rough couple of years (personally) and I’ve only blogged about a fraction of it but most of you knew (sensed?) I was struggling and whether or not you purposely did it, you encouraged me to keep going. Thank you.
For the first timer in a very long time, I’m convinced that we (my family and I) are absolutely positively exactly where God needs us to be and I’ve gotten some real clarification about what it is we’re supposed to be doing. As a result, we will be backing off on a few things and focussing more specifically on others. Our education initiative is really addressing a critical need and it’s struck a chord not only in Uganda but amongst educators and hackers alike as we develop better and more relevant hardware and software solutions. Our training center is making a difference (although we need to beef up the training material and try to get more stories and feedback as we train students). Our technical support initiative is huge here in Uganda, but I need to focus on helping non-profits. We will be officially getting out of the business of doing generic repairs for “locals” and instead focus our efforts on free support to non-profits. The volunteer network will receive a lot of attention over the next year as well as we get you involved in the “fun stuff” and allow you to catch the fever and experience the amazing feeling of helping someone out with your skills. These will be our primary objectives over the next year, and we’ll keep our eye on the Keep and the Bed and Breakfast as we hope they will continue to “break even”, pay for themselves and serve the community here in Uganda.
So that’s the big picture. Thank you again for all your support. It really means so much to me and to my family. Speaking of my family, I’m so glad to be back with Jen and Declan. Although I was only gone for a week, I hadn’t seen Jen for two weeks (she was in Kenya for the RVA open house with her friend Michelle) and I have to say, she was a sight for sore eyes. When I pulled up to the house and saw her, it was as if I was seeing her for the first time in years. Her smile really made my month. The kids will be back from school next week, and I’m super excited about that too. In the past years, I’ve spent way too little time concentrating on my family (as I concentrated on the mission here), and I’ve vowed to change that. I want to be purposeful about spending quality time with them and investing in them. That’s another reason I’m planning on streamlining work here in Uganda, and only focussing on the things that are having the greatest impact. I’m learning a new word, “No”.
Lots more to say, but that’s another post.