I found myself telling my story to a colleague this week yet again. 22 and a dreamer. Heading to Mozambique without a plan other then ‘helping’. Starting it all without much thought. Running with your heart and working with all your strength.
I remember her like it was today. We took the car and then walked a long while. We were in Nhancutse. Gina was at the door. She had her book in her knees, trying to do homework. I remember being surprised that she was doing homework, it wasn’t a common sight. And that she was talking good Portuguese. Caring for her siblings. At the door of a hut without a ceiling, without windows. A good 2 hours walk away from school. Her story may have added another 10 years of determination to do more. And yet, her story was not isolated.
Every time I go back, I wonder if the distance grows. I used to return way more often than today, spend long periods of time there, just be there. As the team grows, I know less, I fear my distancing. And then I land and the warmth of it all just embraces me. Whilst I may not know all the details and faces, I share the determination to make things different. I share the empathy for what we fail to do. I share the will of what else we can achieve. The smiles multiply. Many of them don’t even know that I started it. It almost hurts, and then I smile. It is more than me, where it needs to be. I am but a piece of this puzzle that tries to every day change the way these children get the world.
Out of comfort zone
My space? There, teaching them letters and IT, organising football games and setting up the library, doing braids and helping with homework. But that is not where I am. That was the basis that allowed me to understand the importance of what came next. I then moved to spreadsheets, plans, reports. Still in my space, still where I thrive. Behind a screen.
Spreadsheets multiply, time is short, and I need to speak. I need to speak up and tell my story, I need to reach out and ask for money. I need to tell you (not just write to you). Because my eyes were the first ones they seem to still shine brighter even when I am totally out of comfort, selling our story of change, asking for money. I hesitate, ‘I don’t know all the details anymore’, ‘I am not a salesperson’, and then I get over it and go. In fact, talking about the charity has gotten me out of the panic of public speaking (now I only have fear, no panic).
A time of change
Over the last year, we have given A Little Gesture a push to get out of the family nest. Go out and venture the world. Seek to create wings that I can fuel and guide but not hold back. It has been a year of change for all of us, one where I have chosen that one of the biggest achievements of my life was one I never dreamed of and I embraced it as an achievement. No matter what comes for the next 20. The Power of One.
I am no longer shying away from telling everyone about the amazing work we are doing. How each story matters to us, each name makes us go further. Yes, we have our mishaps and mistakes and there is so much my corporate strategist self still wants to do different. But we are quick to forget the magnitude of the 1000 sponsored children, the 2500 children eating daily, the more than 200 children on pre-schools, the houses built, the crafts learnt. That is why I need to keep going there. And need to keep telling you. So I don’t forget. That is the Why.
Cash is king (or rather queen)
In this special time of change, one thing does not change. Cash is king, and very little can be done without it. So I won’t go round it, I will just leave you with this smile and smell of Mozambique. And hope you can contribute for our year end appeal. Or to any other that makes you smile.