The baby is 2 :)

Time check: 10.55pm.
It was on this night two years ago that I made an independent decision to have my first child.
I didn’t give it much thought then. It was one of those impulsive things that felt right.
I didn’t think to plan.When the idea crept into my mind,I thought “Why not?  I am here and I am ready”
The next day, I got busy.
The baby needed a home and several caretakers.
I needed to book them in advance,they would certainly make the time.
This home was facebook, the caretakers were my friends+family and the baby…well you know
40 days over 40 smiles Foundation.

Whereas I can’t compress this entire journey into a blog post, I can attempt to make some ‘loud’ observations.
You win some you lose some
That first Easter weekend,we visited two orphanages.
Friday had about 35  friends of mine present as did Saturday.Along the way some have dropped and others have joined in.I have extensive experience in what it means to have people in your life for a season and a reason.
I have some insight about those who will be with me for a lifetime but this journey has given me enough wisdom to know that even those can change with time.
Love and loss
My first heartbreak occured during these two years.I didn’t lose my knight in shining armour-even worse, I lost angels whose broken wings I wasn’t done fixing.
I think of and dream about them. The simple yet most beautiful part of it all is that I kept their memory far from anyone’s reach but my own-deep down in my heart.

Not all that glitters is gold
The team does all it can to spread the word,locally and internationally. We don’t do it for fame or fortune but sometimes we do it too well-albeit unknowingly.
The outcome?
Some organisations don’t want to work with us because we are “rich enough” others would love to associate with us when it is convenient and walk away when it doesn’t benefit them.
Individuals claim responsibility for successes they didn’t contribute to and tiptoe to the back seat when things go wrong.C’est la vie

Everybody is somebody
Over 60% of our biggest donors are friends of friends,random acquaintances and curious observers.
The lady who eavesdrops on a conversation shows more support than the friend who has seen you at rock bottom.
Bittersweet but also plain amazing
Start small

No one envisioned two years. I know at the time my eyes were set on just a successful Easter weekend. After it happened, we got to thinking and look where we are now.
We are not a household name like coca cola but we are who we are, the best change agents we can be. You haven’t seen our label? We produce t.shirts, wrist bands, mirrors and so much more- order now 😉
Small minds discuss people
Without meaning to stereotype, a good number of people in this country spend valuable time discussing/analysing none issues with the sole purpose of destroying what others have built.

Before they even know what you are about, they want to bring you down.It’s not good enough-what are their ulterior motives?-I can do better-That car must have been bought using the charity’s money- That was my idea,how did they steal it?-The list goes on. It gets ‘funny’ after a while. Your life is made a lot more interesting than it actually is.

uhm,how about we each water our own side of the fence?

Hope even in its false form can be exactly what one needs
There have been days when a project has stalled or the account is dry. In your anguish,you mention it to a person or two. They assure you that they will carry your load for you. You sleep better,dream more and wait patiently.
After weeks you realise the promises may not materialise. You also quickly notice that this hope kept you going nonetheless. Silver linings 🙂
Growth finds you
You can plan your entire life,doesn’t mean it will go according to your expectations.
No job,literature or school prepared me for the experiences thus far. None of them could have molded me to this extent either.
It is a phoenix situation-several times over. Cheers to being reborn.

Patience pays

On this one, I could go on for days on end. I have been tested more times than I can count. I thought I was a gracefully patient person till I learnt that I just hadn’t been pushed hard enough. Now I am just learning all over again, that people change, things fail, mistakes happen. Nonetheless, you get up, show up and work.

Never lose your sense of purpose
It’s been 730 days since that first facebook post which I unearthed >>> “During Lent, as you fast or choose to stay away from certain treats, I urge you to save up a little so we can share Easter with the less fortunate.
We shall bake cakes, buy toys and get clothes to distribute at orphanages and paediatric units of hospitals.
Let us join hands and give all we can:-)”

We have several ‘anniversaries- The day the page was opened, the first Easter weekend when we spread love to those children, the day we got registered.I maintain this one as the most special to my heart. A simple thought grew into a great revolution that is only beginning to bloom.
Long days and sleepless nights have surfaced since-ridicule,disappointment and betrayal often cause palpitations but the victories,little thank yous,compliments from ‘strangers,’ innocent hugs and special bonds bring deep satisfaction that no one can take away from you.

There are people I have never met, others are barely speak to and acquaintances that have shared their love and resources-
A large pool of friends and family who have supported at different stages and continue to be with us
A team that has seen the good bad and ugly but still stuck around against all odds
The overall master who brought us this far and continues to go before us.
All these combined have culminated into 40-40 at 2 years- my baby, my reason to get up everyday, my source of pain and comfort but most of all-MY PURPOSE.

cake 2

Step by step

Recently the 40 40 team and I had an opportunity to spread the word about our cause and sell some of our branded merchandise that helps us raise funds.

It was one of the most difficult crowds we have had to deal with.

Below I share some of the highlights and ‘low lights’ of the evening.

Team work

I got there a bit early and didn’t see any face I recognised so I started to make some calls.

In a short time, I had the merchandise delivered, found the table we were to use and was joined by a friend to help with the set up. Company just makes t all a little easier.

Good Samaritans

The sun was blazing and if you have been in Kampala lately, you know that is a bit of an understatement.

My friend and I camped under a tent with some ‘strangers’ and tried to get comfortable.

Before long we were joined by some familiar faces. In a short while, we had a gazebo lent to us and could start to set up with some smiles.

We hadn’t carried our banner but when a Good Samaritan gave us some manila, we improvised. It was given a personal touch with….*guess what*….lipstick! Cool friends, yes? Yes.

Panic

When we thought we were ‘ready,’ some of the merchandise mysteriously disappeared. Thorough searches and a police dog later and voila- the badges, mirrors and wristbands re-appeared! Phew

Bloopers

This is the ‘fun’ part. We tried to attract as many people as we could to our table as they passed by or generally share info about the cause. Some were polite, others…not so much.

  • This gentleman walks towards our table at a point when sales were pretty low; serious face, wearing spects and looking pretty sure.  We immediately prepare ‘the speech.’ He leans over and asks “Where is the bathroom?”  It was so sad and extremely funny.
  • This other not-so-gentleman came by and picked a badge. We told him it was 4,000 shillings. He threw it and mumbled ‘I thought it was free.’ Believe it or not, several other people thought like him or at least pretended to.
  • Two members of my team were engaged in a conversation when I noticed two guys peeking over them. I sent them away, told them to find someplace else to talk. They obliged. Then the ‘customers’ asked  “Is this where we buy the cocktails?” Hahaha, really? Right behind the t.shirts and wristbands, we were mixing cocktails according to these guys?

Not over yet

Just when I thought we had seen it all. Someone I shall call Peter came over to our table. He seemed to be tipsy, with a lot to get off his chest.

I began to tell him what we had on offer and that is when the outburst began. “You must be millionaires by now. How did you even manage to get into this event? You are such a business woman Esther.”

Me: Uhm, all the proceeds go to charity, We simply wanted to reach more people.

Peter: Shya, you are just getting rich. I heard you built a hostel and are now building classrooms.

People take years to do those things and you have done it in such a short time. Do you expect me to believe you?

At this point I realised defending myself wouldn’t help.  I simply listened and tried to smile.

His banter lasted longer than I wished. When he left, another member of the team told me she knew him from a past event. He had given her trouble because he didn’t want to pay the 3,000 UGX entrance fee and kept swearing unnecessarily.

I am not sure if this made me feel better or sorrier for him.

At the end of it all, this evening had so many lessons for us to learn from.

I was particularly pleased with the team effort and how everyone withstood the tough crowd to actually make sales and network while remaining pleasant through it all.

We exited after midnight but the learning shall probably go on for a lifetime.

step

 

 

Benezeri Interview

Tomorrow, 14th February(Valentines day),at 14:00, Benezeri’s new video #Zuukuka 2 shall go viral, Big Tril and Ruyonga featured on this hit.

Read on to find out what some of the talented minds who worked with him thought.

Note: This is all done by Benezeri, all I did was click ‘Publish’ 🙂

Big Tril
Number 1. Why did you accept to jump on #Zuukuka part 2?
– Because its a conscious song and its informative hip hop which is good for society
Not forgetting its a hot track

No. 2. Your verse was deep! How long did it take u to write it and
what did u smoke to motivate you like that?

Hahahahahahah
Didn’t smoke anything
Was just inspired

Haha okay. No. 3 Who are the top 5 corrupt people in the entertainment industry?
Radio n weasel
Mckenzie
Tril
Maurice kirya
And Benezeri

Haha ok. Whats it like presenting with a beautiful lady like Cynthia?
Haven’t u attempted to corrupt her?
-Hahahahahahah
That’s my little sis

You’ve managed to make a name for yourself. What advice would you give
to someone trying to do the same in this era of unemployment?
– Just be yourself
People recognize the realness

trill

Mith

1- What was the thing that struck you most about #Zuukuka part 2?

I liked the whole concept of the campaign. Waking up, and talking
about what’s wrong with our country, is so necessary. We’re always
quick to ask for help, this campaign takes that mentality away from
us, and gives us Power. The power to go out and make that change that
we always seek.

2. What has caused the corruption within the industry. Presenters
asking for “facilitation” to play songs

I can never blame a person for wanting to make an extra shilling. ‘By
Any Means Necessary’ right?! I do blame us the artists for going ahead
and paying. If you truly believe in your craft, put it out and let the
audience decide on how far the song will go.

3. Who are the 5 most corrupt entertainers?

Hahaha, this should be fun.
1- NAVIO, He has jammed to invite me into the illuminati.
2- Ruyonga, How are the rest of us supposed to win when his partner is
the Big man upstairs.
3- Idringi, maaan, he is working with Nigerians…….(let THAT marinate)
…Those are the only 1’s I know for now.

No, on the real, I am surrounded by brilliant people who believe in
their talent and never need to bribe anyone to get ahead.

mith

Izaya (Producer)
1. What inspired u to make the zuukuka 2 beat?
– Had no inspiration. I just came up with fresh ideas.

2. Who do you think nailed it best?
I think ruyonga did because his 1st 3 lines keep ringing in my head.

3. How is it working with the 3 artistes?
There is nothing that encourages a composer more than optimism and ambition.

zukuukz tee

Hakeem (videographer)
No. 1 What was the most powerful thing about the song, in your opinion?
– If nothing changes,nothing changes. That statement means a lot.

No. 2. How different was this video from all the others you have  shot before?
– Its been the 1st positive conscious hip-hop video I have e worked on. The
rest were aimed at making money.

No. 3. What should people expect from this video?
– They should expect a visual positive message in the hip-hop rap context.
The should expect some unusual visuals in the video that are not
common with the day to day Kampala urban set ups.
And also eye catching movements in the video, like buoying, shot in
the best way ever, in the history of urban dance in Uganda

No. 4 What advice would you give to youth, some of whom are your age
and equally qualified, but are jobless.
– They shouldn’t undermine any job how ever small,because big things most times
come in small packages. It is from volunteering at times that other
opportunities show up.
And they shouldn’t forget their God, because God hasn’t forgotten them,it is
just a series of tests from God in which we swim every day…

The last one. How would you like to be remembered?
-One of the few good editors that helped drive the zuukuka project or
campaign with all his passion.

Ruyonga

What is the most memorable moment during the Zuukuka video shoot in
Kikuba Mutwe slum?
– Abramz getting the kids hyped up and getting them to sing “Zuukuka.
Tewebaka” It changed the energy of the shoot.

It was your idea to shoot the video in the slum. Why the slum of all places?
One of the main aims of Zuukuka is to open peoples eyes. We wanted
people to wake up to what was happening in their community instead of
focusing on just the issues in the corporate world

zukuukz tee