Silver linings

24

Yesterday I made some follow up calls again, to potential sponsors for our anniversary dinner. Indeed, some people avoided them-again.
Cathy picked up.
She knows who I am but she let me go through a lengthy introduction. That was fine.
Finally, I reminded her that I had been following up and needed to know when the best time was for me to check in for the verdict.
Her: Don’t call me. I am the one who will call you!
Her tone! Gosh,not even the tinniest ant was bigger than me in that moment.
I said thank you, hang up and looked up to the heavens like ‘WHY, God, WHY?!
It seemed like for every two steps made, I go back 10.
A few hours later, I went to the 4040 meeting and we discussed our plans. The memory was fresh in my mind, along with all the disappointments that seem to occur daily. Then during the meeting, I had a moment.
I looked around, I was in the company of 4 friends, two of whom had their babies back at home.
Each of these individuals could have been anywhere else but here they were brainstorming away, past 9pm on a work day. The staff of the restaurant started to clean up as a hint, but there we were planning away.
Them,together with several others have sacrificed a good chunk of their time,resources, skills,emotions and so much more to make the dream work.
Some have come and gone but their impact is still felt and they made their contribution.
In the beginning, I did almost everything single handedly because I couldn’t bear to be let down by another;to have someone else to blame. But here we are, 5 years later; still meeting weekly;bonding over that black tea🍵 and doing whatever it takes to stick together like the family we now are.
I do not take that for granted.

 


So, of course these ‘worldly disappointments’ will knock me down now and again..but I hope I never lose sight of all the little miracles that have come my way along this journey. One of these miracles at the very top, is this amazing team that I am proud of, now, always.

Originally posted on 24th March

Advertisements

Goodbye. No. See you later

On Easter Monday, we sat in a circle at a friend’s home. We each took turns  to say what we were grateful for from the past year. 40-40 was celebrating two years and the team had an opportunity to reflect on the good, bad and ugly of the past months but with more emphasis on the awesome 🙂

circle

Some people gave testimonies of how  40-40 had opened doors for jobs, great networks and even love interests *wink*

This calm soul started to speak and suddenly the silly jokes and anecdotes stopped. The room went silent as we listened and I am sure, even inwardly wept because her testimony was not only moving, it also left us reflecting deeper on our lives. I will call her ‘Angel.’

As Angel concluded, she let us know she had applied for a Master’s scholarship that would commence later in the year. She hoped that she would return and work with 40-40 after attaining knowledge in a field relevant to our work. In that moment, I knew then that she would definitely get it. Some things you just know, you know?

Fast forward to this month, Angel has gone through different kinds of emotions as her simple dream took all sorts of twists and turns. Her faith was tried and tested countless times but she was not only resilient through it all, she was also extremely humble.

By last week she had been denied a visa. A planned surprise farewell party was a complete fail as the cake arrived in the absence of its ‘chief cutter’ (What does that even mean?) It was nothing short of depressing but not once did I hear phrases like “I give up” or “Why me?”

These, in fact, were her exact words “If this is supposed to turn me away from God, failed plot”

commit to him

By this week she had been called back to ‘re-evaluate’ her application and as I type this she is probably packing as many memories as she can into her suit case 🙂

As we bade her farewell last night, we had a chance to share some thoughts. It was quite clear that as a team we were ‘losing’ (more like lending the world) a free spirit who not only got the work done, but did it gracefully.

If I was a C.E.O of a big corporation bidding farewell to a valuable employee, I would practically be seeing the millions of dollars that Angel will make for the next company. However, I am left in awe. I am confident that she will shine as much as she did here, if not more. I am hopeful that the rest of the team shall emulate her and that we can also leave a mark not only on the lives of the children we work with but also on everyone we meet. That is what it means to ” Be The Change”…No?

Dear Angel, from us at team 40-40, it is see you later and a bucketful of love and good wishes (plus throat aches and oba broken hearts too? 😉 )

We can’t possibly express our joy or pride but we are certainly behind you 110%.

goodbyes

xoxo

And then there was 5 Aside UG…

If you have organised an event before then you know that while everyone is chatting and having a good time, chances are you are battling a few ‘demons’ behind the scenes. The bride isn’t talking to the maid of honour; truck carrying the drinks gets involved in an accident minutes before the function begins, the guy with the public address system is a no-show and all his numbers are off. Does any of this sound familiar? If it doesn’t, you are one lucky lad!

You can plan an event for months and even fix provisions for the worst case scenario, only to be shocked by scenarios worse than the ones you envisioned. The universe has jokes I tell you.

On March 8th , 40 days over 40 smiles Foundation organised an event dubbed “5 Aside UG,” we had planned it for quite some time and were pretty anxious to see the outcome. Meetings, whatsapp threads, late night discussions, stalking service providers- we did all that.

We began approaching ‘potential teams’ six weeks before the event from within our networks. The response was overwhelming. Our target was 32 teams but even before we launched the campaign, about 35 had committed to getting players. When things seem too good to be true, they usually are.

A few weeks later when we contacted the team captains, the number dropped by more than half, some even denied ever hearing about this tournament or even 40-40 for that matter. It was hilarious. Not.

We went back to the drawing board and decided to accept our fate. We were going to close registration with or without the teams we had earlier planned for. In the background, we tried to make registration as convenient as possible but the day before the deadline, we had 15 teams. We agreed to close at 16 and make fixtures based on that number.

Closing day :The ladies in charge of registration had been called all sorts of names and had their patience tested for the past weeks. We didn’t think it could get any worse. However out of nowhere-literally, we had an avalanche of teams. In fact, the number exceeded 32 and we had to call people to ask them to withdraw.

I will give you a few examples of the drama that surrounded this.

-‘John,’ whom I actually know had no idea I was the one who picked up the phone because my colleague whom he had called was driving. The conversation went something like this. “You have to register my team. I got held up and delayed but money is not my problem. If you don’t register I will call *insert name of 40-40 member whom he was sure had a ‘higher rank.’ (The organisational structure of the foundation is unlike that of most bodies and thus you will not find titles like C.E.O, C.F.O, U.P.D.F etc) In fact, I was more agitated that he thought he could talk down to someone he had never even met!

-This next guy we shall call Bosco. He didn’t speak to me but here is an excerpt of the conversation. “You need to register my team; do you know how many influential people and potential sponsors I can bring to your event?” (Please! All the guests we had already invited are ‘influential,’ enough if they are supporting a cause that is bigger than them) I will save you from other such tales and move on to us eventually settling for 40 teams. Did I mention the teams that came back to claim their money because they thought ‘5 aside soccer’ was actually basketball? Hihi. Bambi we returned it in good faith 🙂

The day finally came and if you were at Bush Court, I need not go into details. As if the 40 team shocker wasn’t enough, people came from all over to attend this event. From the parking lot alone, you would think it was ‘Enkuka y’omwaka’ (I have no English translation for this)

Yes, we had a few hitches and the team at 40-40 apologises for those. If it is any consolation, we were attacked by the more vocal ‘victims.’

As I made my rounds, this lady walked up to me and asked if I was Esther. As soon as I gave a positive response, I realised that a lie might have made more sense. She had a stick that wasn’t so much for beating as it was for gouging my not-so-small eyes. She explained how her team had not been called, deserved to win, the team which ‘cheated,’ etc- all the while moving the stick an inch from my eyes. I remember constantly repeating ‘I will see what I can do’ while taking short backward steps. Competition is real. The dramatic encounters were not few but I will share just one more.

I met another gentleman who told me he had only played three games and thus needed ‘compensation’ before he left. I was trying to comprehend this. Was each game worth 2,000 shillings so that he gets 4,000/= in change? Just before I could respond, a tipsy girl tapped me.

Her: Happy Women’s day

Me: Thanks, Happy Women’s day to you too

Her: Do you know that you are a woman of substance? (sips Guiness)

Me: *crimson face*

Her: You got me to get into a taxi all the way from Kansanga to come and contribute the little I have to change a child’s life. (sips beer) I don’t even go to church and yet here I am supporting charity. Thank you.

She walked away and when I turned around, Mr. compensation was gone too. Overall, it was a very humbling day. I am actually not over it, a whole week later.

We learnt several lessons and are very grateful to everyone who took the time to participate and was patient with us throughout.

.I wish my team could get a month off or more, for all the hard work and sleepless nights. You guys rock!

Unfortunately now that we have raised the money, the work has to begin. Just to reiterate, we managed to raise 11,376,700 on that day, after an initial investment of 4,712,600. That means we have 6,664,100 surplus that we shall inject into our programs starting next month. Literacy and numeracy as well as food and nutrition shall be our focus as we continue to better the lives of those less fortunate than we are.

How do you like our custom made boots and medals? I just love my team’s creativity and how they are constantly re-inventing things that would otherwise seem so ordinary!

boot 1

boot 2

medals

Congratulations Team Wesonga (Winner) and Team Benezeri (Runner up). The finals took place using ‘DIY flood lights’ and it worked!

This was our biggest event yet, with over 1,000 people present and we don’t take it for granted. Keep spreading the word and being the change! The numbers are great but having you as part of our movement and programs is even better.

To our partners, friends and well wishers, the team at 40 days over 40 smiles says thank you! It is because of you that we have made 2 years and can’t wait for the decades to come.