40 days. 40 stories

Happy March! Yes, we made it to the third month, possibly with a few scares but STILL STANDING. <<That is what counts.

40 days 40 stories

I thought I would share bits of this incredible journey as we commemorate 5 years of 40-40. What better, more divine way than to begin on Ash Wednesday which is today, 1 March?!

I may not have a story published on each day but I will write 40 stories, so help me God. Maybe they will make you smile, laugh or shake your head. It would be great if they can inspire someone or just take you on a trip that hopefully you will enjoy. It will come as a LONG post on Facebook and as a blog entry. Choose your poison.

Here goes!

One

What is in a name?

When I left home that morning 5 years ago, I had no idea that I would call the Facebook group I opened ’40 days over 40 Smiles.’ I just knew I was going to do it.

Fast forward and it has been a great conversation starter, ice breaker and even an identity. I have a friend who increases and decreases the quantities as he pleases Today it is ‘30-30,’ tomorrow ‘60-60’ and even 2040. *shakes head*

I remember an employee of Bank X telling us ’40 days over 40 Smiles’ sounded like a forged name when we went to open and account. By definition, to forge is to ‘produce a copy or imitation of (a document, signature, banknote, or work or art) for the purpose of deception.’ Alas, how far from the truth she was. Needless to say, that bank would not have to suffer the plight of having an account holder with this forged name.

Funny enough, I met *Charles who told me that as he was looking for a company name for his art, one of the Ugandan names that intrigued him the most was ‘40 days over 40 smiles’ and he had always wanted to tell me.

A few years after inception, Vanessa* told me it was time we changed the name. I asked why and she explained that it was a mouthful and we needed something more relatable. I thought about it and realised I didn’t want to just pick a name because it sounded relatable or was short and easy to say, it needed to be authentic over everything else. As I write this, I am reminded of actress, Uzo Aduba’s story in which she went home one day complaining how no one at school could pronounce her name and asked if she could be called Zoe. Her mum’s response is/ was legendary. “If they can learn to say Tchaikovsky and Michelangelo and Dostoyevsky, they can learn to say Uzoamaka.”

Now I smile as I explain why the name 40 days over 40 smiles Foundation. Yesterday at restaurant where I had lunch, a waitress greeted me with a smile “Hi 40-40.” I smiled back and responded. Owaye, if Esther is too mainstream, why not use figures?

rose

 

Xx

Advertisements

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