When one door closes

“His palms are sweaty, knees weak arms are heavy. There’s vomit on his sweater already, mom’s spaghetti He’s nervous, but on the surface he looks calm and ready to drop bombs”

Lately, I have been going through different versions of what Eminem rapped about in ‘Lose yourself.’ (You know things are a little crazy when you start quoting Eminem) It is a few days to the event croak and rhyme and if you have planned an event before, you know how crucial the last week is. You often find yourself in motion that involves two steps forward, five steps back. On top of that, life does not give you a break for one phase to end before another crops up, one has to find balance somehow. Up till last night, I was far from balance.  I was working on an application for a grant that if received, would change the lives of so many young women in Uganda. The more I got engrossed in it, the more I reflected upon life and the 40 days over 40 smiles dream. Now that I finally clicked ‘send,’ the anxiety of waiting for the outcome is going to follow- a feeling I didn’t think I would have to relive so soon. As December came to an end, a few friends encouraged me to apply for a fellowship I knew nothing about. I ignored the first two, but when four more people who don’t even know each other told me about it. I thought I would give it a shot. I looked around for references and clicked send on the day of the deadline in late January. Fast forward to an email informing me I was a semi-finalist and needed to do an interview. I began to believe that perhaps this was actually meant for me. Do you believe in signs? You know, you meet a ‘random’ person three times in the same place and start to think “Hmm, perhaps there is a reason; we should get to know each other?” Well, I started to think that perhaps these people getting in touch and my getting that far was a sign but I fought the urge to be excited or overzealous (albeit unsuccessfully) Eventually, I didn’t make the cut. I gave myself a week to mourn. It was filled with self pity, telling myself I wasn’t good enough or worth the trouble. No dramatic tears were shed but there was a huge lump in my throat that thankfully only lasted the duration of self pity. Once that was done, I went back to work.

“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.”

Ironically, about the same time in January,I had received a call from a friend of a friend.She was asking me what 40-40 needed in terms of capacity, which skills I would need to manage the organisation better and how best to train the team. I told her all our dreams and then some.I didn’t think much of it. Last month she called to share some good news. Her organisation (African Hope Network) had secured funding for capacity building within 40-40. Together with 5 other individuals, I had been selected to be a fellow for 2014. They did not want to support our projects but rather support us to become better at what we do for a period of 6 months to one year. Yaay us, right?! 😀 Someone finds you have fallen and are bruised, lonely with no place to go. She picks you up, takes care of the wounds and then gives you a place to stay, this is exactly what it felt like.

“I wished for someone to hold me up. Suddenly someone was there.”

When I suggested having a full time accountant as one of 40-40’s biggest needs at the moment and mentioned that we have not been able to afford remuneration for this position, she said the organisation would be happy to help! As if that wasn’t enough, a team member said he had always wanted to do more for the organisation and this was his opportunity.  He would quit his lucrative job to take the accountant’s position that comes with half his original salary and no benefits (except perhaps naps on  the office couch that we are yet to buy) Not to mention, after 6 months, chances are   his pay will be irregular if at all. I smiled to myself knowing that things had happened the way they had for a reason. The gift basket wasn’t quite empty and I learnt this a few weeks ago. When Justin posted a link and asked us to apply for the Tumaini awards, I didn’t know what they were about. I checked the website and found out that they are held annually and are organised by a group of NGOs including UNICEF, World Vision and Save the Children to reward individuals and organisations who are impacting communities in Uganda. I checked the deadline and confidently told him the day was long gone. He insisted on sending the application anyway. On 13th June, I received the award,thanks to his nomination, 1st place in the health category. To say that this came as a surprise is an understatement. This award also came with a 3,000,000 UGX cash prize. After I received the award I spoke to Justin and the phone conversation had one minute of silence between each sentence because he was as shocked as I was. Just a few days before we were joking about in and now-voila! When the prize money finally comes through, I am ready with a list of the things we need. It keeps changing but I am sure it will help us greatly. As a young organisation, all the recognition, funding and support that we receive is a great boost and gives us hope to carry on. Tumaini award pic

“… Because one who seeks the highest must not leave any path untried.”

Of course I wrote this so that you, who may have chanced upon this blog post can be reminded; a closed door isn’t the end of the road. You never know how many more are waiting to open but you will not see them if you keep looking back at the closed one.

“Each mistake teaches you something new about yourself. There is no failure, remember, except in no longer trying. It is the courage to continue that counts.”

In related News, we shall be opening doors (read gates) at 6.00p.m on Friday 4th July at the Uganda Museum. For only 10,000 UGX, you will get entertainment from the finest Ugandan  artists and poets. More info here There will be lots of food, drinks and great people to meet. Above all, here is a chance to change the lives of some awesome children while having fun. The children t Agape Children’s Home will have a better education and improved standards of living thanks to you. See you there, yes? 🙂

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