So, here I am at our office, yes, our!! It is so surreal, I am not quite comfortable saying it yet but yes, the little baby 40 days over 40 smiles has grown! We are crawling now 🙂
Well, I don’t know!! We had a thanksgiving on 28th July at my friend, Diana’s home. We simply wanted to thank God for having been with us throughout the journey. After a beautiful sermon and lunch that included meat balls. Side note: Harris had prayed for meat balls for minutes on end and thank the Lord I had ordered for them as part of the menu. I think we all gave him ours. I am not sure what the situation was in his tummy that evening but, I will leave it to your imagination.
Yes, after the lunch we had a talk from a social walker. She gave us pointers on how to run a charity and then said we had grown and needed an office. Office? Ha! As in, we don’t even have any employees let alone rent. Well, she said we needed to employ someone to coordinate the activities and they would need an address. Up till then, I had carried out meetings at the ‘Chillies’ restaurant below my office and was happy telling people our offices were on facebook and twitter. Yikes! Growing up!
That night I went home and told mum about it. “Oh, I know someone who is moving out of an office near ours, you might want to speak to him,” she responded casually. Wait, what? She had no questions on how we could afford it,why now etc? Okay.
A few days later, she travelled to Nairobi for treatment. I went on about my job and my life. One day, as we spoke over the phone she asked if I had contacted the tenants. Hmm, procrastination 411. I promised to. I think I did a week later. The gentleman passed on the landlord’s number and I also kept that for a while not sure what the plan was.
As soon as August began, I made up my mind to quit my job and it actually had nothing to do with the prospect of a 40-40 office. My time had come. Mid-August arrived and I was unemployed. Suddenly I had time on my hands to ‘chillax,’ except not quite.
Instead of balancing work and 40-40, I could do the latter full time but now I had zero resources and no end of month salary to look forward to. How about we eat,sleep, read a few novels and watch lots of movies, shall we? Yes, sounds like a good plan.
As time went on, this office space thing started to seem like a good idea, perhaps I could talk to the landlord and just see the place, for ‘just.’ I consulted members of my team. It was split, some thought the timing was right, others believed we had important things to sort out and I was, well, somewhere in between. I prayed about it, worried, procrastinated and then decided to let HIS will be done.
I met the Landlord after a couple of weeks. In his words “Nga yakuwanye nnyo,” loosely translated to mean the current tenant had showered me with praises in my absence. Apparently he had been told I was a responsible person doing a lot of great work to change the world, bla bla so he pleaded for us to get the place at the same rate even if the landlord wanted to hike the rent.(Bless his soul) I used all the Luganda vocabulary learnt, inherited and forged to ‘beg’ for this deal. He agreed to keep the rent at the current rate, but with a catch, 6 months rent down payment. Lodamacy!!(Read Lord have mercy)
I told the team what the situation was. The tenants were leaving at the end of September. Now to get these millions by then. Sigh. We needed a miracle.
The team decided that each member would loan 40-40 a certain amount and then we would look for ways to top up. It seemed easy, until the pressure mounted and a few days to D-day, I did not even have half the amount required. When I realised putting pressure on people who had salaries and responsibilities was not going to yield much, I decided to think outside the box. I would just use the money the team contributed to settle the other debts as we sort out our income generating projects for 40-40. The faster, the better.
My dad pledged to contribute to the rent too and much as the Landlord put me on pressure, I did not want to do the same so I waited for him to read my mind. What do you know? On the day of the deadline, he did read my mind. He asked when the rent was due and I might have screamed ‘now!!’ He passed on his donation and along with a major contribution from one friend and a couple of other loans, I was able to carry these millions with me onto a bike and hand them over to the Landlord. Phew! If I was a drinker, some tequila would have been abused that afternoon but well, I think I made up for it with chai(tea) 😉
The office needed to be painted, an M.O.U was drafted and signed. Over this weekend, Saturday to be exact, the Landlord called and told me everything was ready. I thanked him but after hanging up I started to panic. What in the world was I thinking?
Where will the money to pay back come from? What about the water and electricity bill. Furniture, no? All these things had troubled me before but now it all became even more scary.
As a team, we had decided on the urgent needs and those that we can acquire over time. Do you know what I have from the entire list? A clock. Yes, a clock! I haven’t even bought a battery for it 😀 (Thank you Pesh by the way, it is such a pretty clock:) )
Well, Monday was not a good day and Tuesday was Eid plus I had a houseful of sick people so Wednesday seemed like a good day to ‘move in.’ I woke up determined but then I ran out of data on the modem and had to house-sit at some point in the afternoon so I postponed to Thursday.
At about midnight yesterday, my friend Leah called and said we should have a party for the grand opening. We laughed so hard knowing there was really nothing to ‘show,’ except the newly painted walls perhaps.
P.S: If you want in on this party, you will have to carry your own seats,music, food and drinks. We shall provide the venue 🙂
So today, I got up early, did a few chores and started to decide what to carry to the office. A plastic chair? No, it may attract attention in the parking lot. A mat? My mum works around here, she might be judged for her daughter’s strange antics. How about a nice lesu safely tucked in my handbag? That works! So I carried that 🙂
I would love to share photos of this beautiful, spacious office which has such great ambiance but our office camera, I pad and other such fancy gadgets are yet to be delivered.
Kalango/Announcement: If you believe in us and what we do and have some items that would fill the space we have here plus be of use to us including that table you are tired of but still has four legs, and works fine, give me a call. Okay even if you know nothing about us and have some ‘useful trash,’ one man’s trash is another man’s treasure 😉
That said, all official meetings shall be held at a restaurant of your choice for now but if you are a cool guy/lady, then you will realise that the clean floor can make for very comfortable sitting right here.
Just like that, an ordinary day in October feels like the day I moved out of home,without a bed, couch or money to buy food but at least, there was a toothbrush!
Team 40-40, I think we can whisper ‘started from the bottom now we are here.’ (Whisper because our coffers leave a lot to be desired) but very soon we shall be able to sing out loud.
To say I am proud of you and how far we have come TOGETHER would probably be an understatement, but I will say it any way.
This year has been difficult but you have stayed close, keeping the fire burning and that’s something I do not take for granted and appreciate each day. You chose to be my friends but I choose you to be my family.
This empty office makes even more sense being empty(for now) because we shall watch it ‘grow.’
Location: Sir Apollo Kaggwa road(Next to Multitech Business School)
40/40 Afande/E.D/C.E.O/NRM/UNDP/WFP/GM/M.D/WHO/UPDF etc