Mark Twain said the two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.
This may not be the exact date when I found out why but it is when I began the journey that led me there.
Allow me to introduce the birth-date of the 40-40 story.
I recently took off time from most social commitments and social media platforms so that I could re-evaulate this dream and dedicate it further to the author of all things.
I critically assessed the past and present from my eyes, my mind, my soul.
I dreamt of a wonderful future that is not in my hands and thought of the legacy that I hope we will leave.
Along the way I met a stranger and as we spoke, his eyes widened. They glistened with hope as I unconsciously went on and on about this life that chose me and I in turn, chose.
At the end he said “So, in essence you are planting trees whose full benefit you will not experience in this lifetime.”
I smiled. I swallowed hard. I nodded.
I have been a planner ever since I discovered ideas and lists, and here is the irony- the single most life changing decision I ever made came without a plan..at all. Even more transformational for me, was my decision to stay.
Note:Yes, planning is important but sometimes you just need to LEAP.
In many ways bits of the goal remain changing even after pre-pre-pre-planning; But I think I like that. Most days.
I thought of all the things I could say on this day which fills me with a truckload of emotions and the resounding message that came to me is/was THANK YOU..and that is what I will do.
Dear you who is reading and has been part of 40-40 in one way or another,
Did I add you to that first group
without your consent? Did your timeline fill with campaign after campaign until you wanted to hit the mute/block buttons long before they existed?
Did you wonder what the fuss was about and even doubt the nobility of our intentions?
Did you come for porridge and kabalagala (pancakes) at the monthly breakfasts or was it that mystery dude with the dark humour whom you met at Hoops for Grace? Speaking of Grace, did you ever wonder who Grace was and why we were ‘hooping for her?’
Did you know that each hashtag, name and basically every creative title we came up with was mostly spur of the moment? Simplicity always beat overthinking.
Were you coerced into your first interaction with our programs? Did spending time with the children move you closer or push you further away after listening to stories of what their little hearts have had to endure?
Did you feel warmth in your heart each time we completed a project you contributed to? Did you do a happy dance each time we received recognition? Did anyone ever tell you those wins were because of you and that your input meant everything to us?
What if I told you today that many times I almost gave up but when I thought about how far you helped us come, I stiffened my upper lip and ‘womanned up?’
You may not remember that day when you said “I am proud of you” or “You inspire me.” Perhaps not even the time I thanked you and you responded “Anything for 40-40.” It may have slipped your mind how we were struggling to get work done and you volunteered your time or those moments when we weren’t hitting our targets and you made a generous contribution. Gosh, you even brought your tithe to 4040 and we weren’t sure whether to feel guilty or humbled.
Remember how I didn’t have a plan? Yes. I called you and you stayed. And then I suddenly started throwing the word ‘team’ around and you didn’t object. Just like that. A team was formed. It has changed over the years and also remained the same.
You joined at the start and left along the way.
You joined mid-way, had your doubts but still you remained.
You came to ‘check it out’ and never left
You called your sister, your brother, your friend and asked them to join
Your family became my family
You felt out of place because it seemed like everyone knew everybody else. Nonetheless, you took it like a champ. Now you’re one of us.
You attended meetings when you were broke and walked home after
You volunteered with us when you were between jobs
You took time off work when we had an event
You travelled from a nearby district, country to show support
You send in contributions from several continents away. I forget that you aren’t physically here with us.
You got into trouble when your boss noticed you were spending a lot of time on 4040 work
You spent your weekends and public holidays in office as we strategised
You used your own resources to run the organisation’s errands
You told the 4040 story to anyone and everyone who cared to listen
You wore your 4040 tee till it faded and asked for Heelllpp..and then you quickly replaced it
You trekked Kikubo looking for the most affordable price for children’s items
You called in favours until they were all used up
You prayed with and for us. Most importantly, you showed up when it counted.
There are days when three people behind the scenes made the outsiders think there was a looming earthquake.
For all this and more,
I would like to salute you, to commend you but mostly to celebrate you.
This day if for you and only you.
I can’t mention each of you by name even if I tried.
I may never be able to convey this message in person.
Today I ask that you share this thank you note with someone, who introduced you to 4040; or gave you company when you invited them, to a loyal supporter who reminds you about a campaign or an event, to the wonderful team behind the scenes that is truly a gift that keeps on giving; to anyone and everyone who supports us discreetly, regularly or with the utmost PDA you ever did see.
I would appreciate it if they got the message. You, yes you are loved and I am extremely thankful for you.
I do not feel like my vocabulary (or any for that matter) will ever do justice to that which I want to convey to you.
Nonetheless, accept this note laced with my sincere gratitude,love and admiration.
You are living proof of what a small group of determined people can do for a community, a nation; you are the restoration of faith to humanity,
The truth is, without you, there would be no US, no 40-40. You are the reason that we have 5 years to celebrate and we would love to do it with you.
Above all, the glory and honour goes to God, who started this journey, has sustained it and will see it to the very end.
P.s 1: This year’s 40 days (where it all began) start on Wednesday 1 March. To commemorate 5 years, we shall collect stationery, story books and text books for children. Any learning/fun materials that support our literacy dream. This collection will last, you guessed it, 40 days 🙂
P.s 2: We shall host a fundraising and anniversary dinner on Friday May 5, at Victorial Hall, Kampala Serena Hotel. Save the date and save the coins. It will be our utmost pleasure to have you present, celebrating with us.
We are the world- Michael Jackson
With all the love and appreciation in the world,and then some,