Posts Tagged With: Work

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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Part I: The Beginning of the Last Day

It’s weird to think that this is our last day here in Dodoma. It feels like it went by super slowly and extremely fast all at the same time. This morning we went into town to pick up snacks and things for our 8 hour car ride tomorrow (more cookies and pringles of course!). After a little bit we decided to go to the Free Point restaurant for the last time and split a really good pizza between us while we waited to get picked up. Anthony and Bertram came to pick us up the minute we took our last bites.

I was about to jump in the car when I realized that there was already two girls in the back of it. I asked Anthony who his friends were and it turned out to be the newly appointed Miss Dodoma and her sister. They wanted to be involved in the fundraiser and were coming with us to the radio station to help promote the event.  It was nice of her to have come out to support us since it generated a lot of attention on the radio. It was also a bitter sweet moment since this was our last radio broadcast since the fundraiser is tonight!

The guys have a bad tendency to not update us on event related changes. They let us know that they were already at the hotel in the morning and that the set-up had to change because of differing opinions. I was a little upset that we weren’t invited to make that decision with them in the morning but we ended up convincing them that we had to see the new set up for ourselves. We all headed over to Dessert Palm to evaluate what had been done; the set up was basically exactly the same just on the left hand side of the hotel instead of the right. The new location still works for us since the hotel is offering waited service because the bar and grill are located pretty far away from the event.

After our site visited we made our way back to VETA to sit down and have a late lunch with the teachers. We gave them our thank you presents which were mugs decorated with Canadian maple leafs, and they were filled to the rim with candy. I always love seeing their expressions with gifts like this since candy always seems to be a prize winner with them. (They loved it!)

Anthony was giving us a ride back to the hotel but had to go and do something first, so we waited for him at registration. While we were just waiting there, a sweaty white man came up to me and asked if I spoke English. I told him that I did and he handed me his camera and asked me to take a picture of him and his friends just outside. That wasn’t a problem for me; I love it when people do that for me so I didn’t hesitate. After I took their picture I asked them where they were from and what they were up to (and you have to take into consideration that these are the first Caucasian people we’ve seen in a while). There were only 6 of them and they told me that some of them were from Holland and some of them were from Belgium. They had just come from a four day bike trip from Arusha, were taking a break in Dodoma and were going to head back North afterwards. That’s an insane trek considering how bad the road conditions are in terms of the roads, traffic and other obstacles. We chatted for a little bit and then Anthony came and picked us up so that we could go back to the hotel to get ready for tonight!

~To be continued!!!~

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I know this game!

We had an early morning appointment at the radio station with Anthony to keep promoting the fundraiser. We still couldn’t understand most of what was happening since everything was in Swahili but every once in a while Anthony would fill us in. There were people calling in to ask questions and one of them was really interesting. They wanted to donate money but couldn’t make it out; so they asked if there was a number that they could use to donate money digitally. There is a system set up, a lot like online banking where they can send money over their phones but without a data plan. I’m still not a hundred percent sure how it works exactly, but it’s pretty cool that they have that technology available to them in such a remote community.

After the radio broadcast, we went back to the hotel to finish some of our outstanding work. Since we had all of our rough work made out for us, we started working on our finalized work for the fundraiser. I took to making the logo and putting together the slide show, while Sarah worked on the posters and the MC script. It was nice to be doing some physical work and having a real action plan for something we put together.

We finished up and were invited to go out for dinner with Eston, who is one of the English teachers. He had been wanting to take us out for a while and finally got an opportunity to invite us all out. We all met up downtown at the square and made our way over. It took us about 45 minutes to make our way down a busy highway, in the dark, with oncoming bicycles with no lights or reflectors. It was one of those moments in my life where I really thought that my gaming as a kid came in pretty handy; it was kind of like playing Frogger but in real life.

The place that we went to was called Roger Hotel and Eston was very fond of it because he used to live in the area and frequented it regularly. It wasn’t anything special, it was a lot like many of the other little bar/restaurants that we’ve been to so far but it was nice to be somewhere new.

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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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Gotta Get These Wheels Moving

Working out has kind of taken the back burner so Sarah and I decided that since we expect to be in bikinis all weekend it might be a good idea to work out all this week. We started a new regiment where we run on the treadmills for a pre-determined amount of time and then do workouts that she had gotten from her ultimate Frisbee team. My legs and arms are already killing me, but it’s worth it to tone up for this weekend! Afterwards, we decided to work on our reports that are due not too long after we get back. It was really hard to stay focused but it was easier to finish since we had our leftover cookies and sweet buns! I can’t wait to have all of these reports finalized and handed in.

In the afternoon we decided to get the material that we bought for scarves hemmed so that they won’t fray any more than they already have, it costs a whopping 2,000 SCH to get a meter of material in total hemmed (about .75 cents). While she was doing that for us we took some time to just walk around one of the markets. After checking in with the seamstress and realizing that she was still going to be a while we decided to go to lunch at the free point restaurant. We ended up getting a large vegetarian pizza which includes pineapple slices and some mishkaki to share. It was such a great lunch because for the first time in weeks I didn’t have a lunch that included chips! We all felt really good for finally having more of a light lunch instead of a big heavy meal.

We picked up our finished scarves after lunch and then headed back to the hotel. It isn’t uncommon for strangers to randomly come up to us asking for anything from our personal information to our life stories. We tend to keep these encounters casual without giving away any real information; it gets a bit annoying since for me culturally I find it odd, but most of them actually just want to chat and be friends. Sarah encountered someone named Jackson outside of the hotel and talked to him for a bit. He ended up asking her if we all wanted to go to his uncle’s hotel called Desert Palm for food and drinks. She politely declined and came back to the hotel to tell us about her encounter. We just kind of laughed it off as another random encounter and left it at that.

It was a really hot and sunny day and we had the rest of the afternoon off, so we decided to go sun tanning. The pool is in a bit of an awkward part of the hotel because it faces all of the conference halls; we made sure nothing was going on, stripped down and lounged. About 5 minutes after getting comfortable about a hundred people came out of one of the halls and walked right by us. It was really uncomfortable since showing skin is pretty riské in general and people decided to take their tea time outside all around us. I think we all had a really big laughing fit and tried not to open our eyes; because every time we did there were people looking back.

It was nice to go in once the sun started to set, to get away from all the prying eyes. We took some time to get ready and headed down to the Chinese restaurant to eat. We were supposed to meet up with Lucas but he never showed and his phone was turned off. As soon as we sat down and ordered, we got a call from Lucas saying that he was at reception and ready to go; and he apologized for being over an hour late. We apologetically told him that we got hungry and had already ordered so we invited him to sit down with us; luckily he brought his friend with him who was offering us a place to host our fundraiser. We pitched our idea for the fundraiser and explained to him our intentions of raising money for a local orphanage. We convinced him that if he gave us the venue space for free that we would promote his hotel over the radio and acknowledge the hotel at the event for its support. He was very understanding and accepted our proposal with no opposition or hesitation. The hotel that he works for is called Desert Palm in Area D and Sarah and I both kind of stopped in our tracks. She asked him if he knew who Jackson was and it took him a minute but he told us that he was the owner’s nephew! Dodoma is definitely a small town!

After our lovely meal celebrating our success we started talking to a guy next to us who was from India. He told us that he is helping to produce and promote a new Tanzanian reality show called “Bongo Stars”. It’s supposed to be just like a regular musical competition show with auditions, rehearsals and shows. We really wanted to attend one of the auditions but they don’t start until the 14th of June. We let him know that we were traveling to Zanzibar at the end of our trip and he told us that there were riots the weekend before over the constitutional installment. I haven’t been keeping up with the news so I had no idea about them; but he did mention that they had calmed down so that by the time we go it should be fine. Fingers crossed!

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Dodoma!

We drove 8 hours from Dar to Dodoma, there wasn’t as much wildlife as I thought there would be. Only a few birds and a couple stray dogs. The scenery along the way was mostly of slums, individuals walking the highway, fruit stands and mountains. We made a couple of pit stops at the fruit stands, where we were swarmed with children and teenagers asking us to buy their produce. Our guides for the day were buying lots of fruit for their families and the locals never seemed content no matter how much they bought. We got to take a few pictures with the children; they were very reluctant at first but then it kind of turned into a funny game to get into the pictures.

The New Dodoma Hotel looks identical to the picture I posted a few weeks ago. It’s absolutely gorgeous, fully loaded with charm, culture and a few small hiccups. I woke up at about 5am this morning to what sounded like a man shouting through a horn about something, but his voice kept projecting then disappearing and then coming back again, afterwards music picked up until about 6:30am – didn’t get a great sleep but hoping that tonight will be a bit quieter.

I had a really long day today, woke up around 7:30am and didn’t get home until 7:30pm. Sarah and I spent the morning with Heather and the VETA teachers. We were introduced to the students and we introduced ourselves; every time we exited a room we could hear them giggling away. The teachers informed us that they were laughing because of our accents and pronunciation of our names. They find my name hard to understand and just call me Kathryn, & they love saying Sarah’s name out loud because they are familiar with it, on some level.

We spent the rest of the day at St. Gasper Hotel, and were shown the huge grounds, the new pool and their logo, the 400 year old Baobod tree. It was a long day of trying to figure out what we could help with because they are already such an established organization. We came up with some programming for the pool opening such as Marco Polo and Limbo – all extremely hilarious & entertaining concepts to Lucas, the HR manager (Sarah and I acted them out to give him a better comprehension).

St. Gasper is also extremely gorgeous; it has a laid out garden that is divided up into sections of palm trees, colourful bushes and exotic flowers. They have 5 large meeting and conference rooms that sit up to as many as 500 guests. It was interesting to see how they operate as leaders and also as individual team members between all the event management elements; such as, food and beverage, food preparation, human resources, housekeeping and so on. We’ll be helping them for the this week with a large government conference of approximately 700 people. Hopefully I’ll get to help out logistically and maybe by being a runner, but as I said they are pretty self-sufficient as it is.

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