Posts Tagged With: Fundraiser

Part II: The Fundraiser!

The time finally came to head out to Dessert Palm after getting ready for our big event. We took a taxi over around 6:30pm and to our surprise everything was already mostly set up! It was really awesome to see everyone so eager and excited to get started. Sarah and I manned the donation table, which was just off to the side of the courtyard. The set up was fairly simple there were tables in the back for the guests, the slideshow projection and our table up front and the stereo was set up on the other side for music. Lucas informed us that the MC we wanted wasn’t going to be able to make it so he graciously took over the role; which was fine by us since he is very charismatic and knew 90% of the people there.

There was only one very obvious and frustrating issue… the power was out!  There was some kind of work being done on some of the nearby power stations and the electricity wasn’t scheduled to come back on until about 7:30pm or 8pm. Being prepared and educated Event Managers, we came up with a plan to “set the mood” and have one of the guys buy candles so that we could have some light. Once we got the candles we realized that there were no candle holders, but we found a way to keep them upright by putting them in empty beer and pop bottles. Since the projector wasn’t working just yet, I opened the slideshow on my laptop, opened ITunes and let them play at the donation table. We also encouraged Lucas to talk to everyone to inform them of the night’s activities. We also got in touch with the hotel manager to try and get them to start the generator for us so that we could have some more lighting since it was pitch black out. In light of everything this could have been a big issue but using some critical thinking we made it work.

The power came back on eventually and we didn’t end up using the generator but we were still thankful that we had a plan B in place anyway. Everything got set up and finalized in about 30 seconds and then Lucas took over as our MC. We had set things up as a casual bar night for the community but I really don’t think that this concept translated at all to our committee or the attendees. Lucas had everyone introduce themselves, which was about 30-40 people taking a good hour to state their names, occupations and other tid bits about their lives. But once all of the introductions had finished, the donations started to come in. Again, most people wanted to do a little presentation of what they were donating, why it was important and how they got involved. It was great to see all of the enthusiasm but I wasn’t expecting all the formality and presentations!

One of the most moving donations was given by a director of three local schools in the community. He donated 100,000Tsh from each of his schools (300,000Tsh in total) and offered 10 free spots for admission to his schools. This was my favorite donation because it represents so much to me. First and foremost, it directly affects the educational benefit for the children at the orphanage and will give them encouragement to seek higher education. This gesture also was a perfect demonstration of a win/win situation, where I finally saw all of the committee members have their moment of clarity and understanding. It taught them that this amazing act not only benefits the children, but also the director since this will be mentioned in the media, word of mouth and through the children. The kids who end up filling those 10 spots will become ambassadors of those schools with the positivity and support that they have received. They will also likely spend money at these schools, convince their friends to attend these schools and will always carry a positive response to these schools.

The other donations that were made were not all monetary, but they were just as important and just as needed by the orphanage. Individuals and groups donated bags of clothes, flour, sugar, soap, laundry detergent and other helpful items. This was a big surprise for us because when we first started advertising that people could bring material things as well as monetary we were told that people don’t really do that and that it’s a new concept that a lot of people may not understand. I like that this wasn’t the case and that the material goods were plentiful. One of my favorite stories about these donations was from one of the VETA teacher’s. He had gone home one day and explained the orphanages situation to his son, and what the fundraiser was meant to do for them. The son immediately ran around his room with an old backpack and collected clothes that he no longer wore or out grew. He then gave the back pack to his dad to bring to the fundraiser. If anything gave me hope for the future of fundraisers and neighbourly compassion in Dodoma that was it!

Games are a fan favorite here in Tanzania and Lucas has suggested that we play a game called “Do or Pay”. Basically, people write out funny and odd things for others to do, and if your name gets called and you can’t do what is asked then you have to pay 2,000Tsh. People responded really well to it and it was a lot like playing a party game with all your friends and family. It was a really nice game to have been a part of. Other than that, people could pay to have their picture taken with Miss Dodoma or could pay to dance with her. It was a lot of fun to watch everyone hesitantly come up, discreetly pay and run up to see her.

After the games and the donations people just started to quickly trickle out around 10pm or so which gave us some time to have a debriefing meeting afterwards. The guys ordered some drinks and a bit of food to munch on and then we got down to business. Anthony, Sarah and I went into the hotel to count up the donations, triple checked the number and signed off on it. When we got back to the table we made a quick drum roll and revealed that we had raised over 500,000Tsh in cash donations tonight and over 800,000Tsh in promised donations that will be collected next week. This is such a great accomplishment in that this is the first fundraiser event that has ever taken place in Dodoma and even though no one here knew what to expect, everything turned out better than expected. Our discussion quickly moved to having the teachers create a long term plan to have this event annually which they can now grow off of this experience. It’s amazing to see how much they’ve learned just by watching Sarah and I put this together in an organized and paced fashion. I’m very proud of what we accomplished and I’m still so moved as to how this all came together for the House of Hope.

The teachers had already put a game plan in place to bring all of the donations to the orphanage on Monday; unfortunately we won’t be here to celebrate and deliver the goods but we will be there in spirit! We were also sad to have to say good bye to everyone since we wouldn’t have much time tomorrow morning. We gave out lots of hugs and fist pumps and hopefully they’ll all stay in touch over facebook and e-mail.

Looking forward to opening a new chapter in this adventure! We’re off to Dar es Salaam tomorrow and then traveling to Stone Town, Zanzibar early Saturday morning!

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~HOPE~

We got picked up at the hotel by Anthone and Lucas so that we could go into town and get permission from the orphanage to partner with them for our fundraiser. There was a bit of a miscommunication and the guys thought that there was a headquarters for the orphanage in the downtown area. It turned out that there isn’t and that we had to go out of our way a little bit to go to the orphanage directly. While we were discussing what we should do, Anthone got called into a meeting and had to leave for a little bit so Lucas took us to visit one of his lawyer friends. He asked him to be our MC for the fundraiser and explained to him what we were doing and what he would have to do. It was nice to see how invested Lucas had become in this project; it really makes me feel like the guys are serious about helping us to put this event on! While we were still there, Lucas showed us and his friend a rough guest list which was a basic table of names, numbers and other information.

When Anthone was finished with his meeting we decided to go and visit the orphanage which goes by “House of Hope”. It was about a 20 minute ride or so north of Dodoma; it was hard to find because the guys had never been there and there were no road signs. When we got there, we were brought in to see the sister in charge of the orphanage. The first thing that I noticed was that it was so quiet; I only ever heard one or two giggles from inside of one of the rooms. The orphanage itself is actually pretty nice, it is also pretty self-sustained with a large garden and livestock. We were seated in a small office and introduced ourselves and our project to the sister. She was very pleased and excited that we were doing a fundraiser for the orphanage and explained to us what the children’s needs are. Apparently, a lot of them get sponsored through programs like World Vision so that they can go to school. Unfortunately, not all of the children get sponsored so any money raised will be directly supporting education for these children. We got permission to put on this event and we were about to leave when the sister told us to wait where we were so that she could introduce us to the children. In that moment we also figured out that it was so quiet because most of the older children were at school so only the young children were there at the time. We waited for a couple minutes and then the children started to come in; they formed a line and shook hands with all of us. They were very shy and unsure but after smiling with them and saying hello they got a bit more comfortable. We ended up taking a few group shots with all of them to be able to show pictures of them at the event. They are so adorable and well behaved! This visit has definitely had a profound effect on me and how I view orphanages. I had never been to one previously so all I know about orphanages is what I’ve seen on TV and movies. The children interacted with each other like a family and they all had big smiles with a glow to them. The sister explained to us, after the kids had gone, that a lot of them have HIV/Aids or other disorders and diseases. It broke my heart to have seen them so happy and easy going and to then find out that a lot of them are not only orphans but they are also fighting for their lives. This visit made me open my eyes to the reality and severity of these types of issues that children have to face.

After this visit, I got a bit unnerved thinking about people that I have on my social networks who go to a third world country, take a resort excursion and take photos of themselves with underprivileged children like they’ve done something to improve their lives. I’m so proud of myself, Sarah and everyone else involved to have taken a sad situation and to have actually done something about it. This is one of the biggest things that I have taken away from my entire trip. Don’t just stand there and take pictures of underprivileged children, do something to better their lives; just taking a picture of them to show your friends when you get home isn’t going improve their lives in any way.

After our moving visit to House of Hope, we made our way back into town to promote our event over one of Dodoma’s radio stations. Since Sarah and I don’t speak Kiswahili we needed the guys to help translate and answer questions for us. Lucas has a very good voice and persona so it was fun to watch him promote even though I didn’t have a clue as to what he was saying. We were on air for about a half an hour before we headed over to Desert Palm to check out the venue space.

We got there just in time for lunch and had some chips and mishkaki as per usual. After we finished eating, we met up with the owner and Lucas’ friend so that we could get a tour and a feel for our space. We decided to have it on the right of the hotel where the BBQ and bar are so that we can attract more people on the night of. Once we got a real feel for it, we sat down with our new committee (Anthone, Bertram, Lucas, Sarah and me) to brainstorm the event title and goal. Sarah and I have a better feel for English so we collaborated, decided on calling our event “HOPE” and came up with an acronym for it – Helping Overcome Poverty for Education. We also worked on putting together a new logo, Sarah came up with the design and I created it through Photoshop. It all turned out really well and looked really professional. The committee decided that our goal would be to raise as much money as possible for the orphanage and to give them 100% of the donation. We are going to promote by inviting the public through the radio and word of mouth; as well as, personally inviting well known individuals from the community who would better their image trough associating themselves with our event.

Since our event is a $0 we couldn’t splurge on getting a band or decorations and just had to be creative. It took a while to convince the committee that spending money to make money was not appropriate for this type of event. One band was interested in playing for us if we paid them 250,000 Tsh ($100 approx.) and the guys were all for it. Sarah and I explained to them that if we spend any money on things we could get for free and were not 100% necessary then our goal would not be met. Also, I wasn’t going to give anyone any money that wasn’t going directly to the orphanage. Most of them saw where we were coming from but there was still some doubt in our methodology. Sarah and I have both done big Ottawa events for the Children’s Wish Foundation on a $0 budget and so we know exactly what we’re getting ourselves into. Booking a venue for free is always the biggest challenge so since we already had that, there wasn’t anything that was going to change my mind that we were going to pull this fundraiser off successfully.

It was about 8pm when we got back to our hotel and our first stop was the Chinese restaurant for dinner. I had my very last duck and black mushroom sizzler since tomorrow we will be going out with Eston for dinner and Thursday is our event. After dinner, we decided to have a movie night which we had in my fort (AKA the mosquito net around my bed). We ended up watching the Emperor’s New Groove because Heather had somehow never seen it, and Sarah and I had been quoting it off and on since being here. It was nice to just sit down and do nothing since today was such a busy, non-stop day; I am definitely ready for bed!

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