A Wedding Fundaiser In Kenya

On Sunday we were invited to a wedding fundraiser for our friends John and Joy. Joy and I used to work together and also attend the same church.

MC, Joy, John

MC, Joy, John

This month John and Joy will get married. We won’t be able to attend as we will be in New Zealand preparing for our own daughters’ wedding. However, Liz and I went along to a fundraiser, so I thought I’d share about the process.

It seems to be a normal thing to fundraise for weddings. There’s lots of ways of doing it but since this was my first one I totally had no idea of the process. All I knew is that Liz and I would probably be the only white people there and stick out like a sore thumb.

Me winning the USB.

Me winning the USB.

In usual Kenyan fashion, it started an hour late. I’ve learnt pretty fast not to turn up to an event on time and Sundays are the best day to drive around in Nairobi. The traffic is much lighter than during the week, so what would normally take at least an hour, took 15 minutes.

The big item for sale.

The big item for sale.

We sat right at the back of a small meeting room. I got to sit next to Shiko who was Joy’s sister. There would’ve been about 30 people max at the event. It all started with buying a handkerchief for 100 shillings, which you then had to pin onto you (don’t have a clue why). As with any good event, there is food involved. So, we started off with tea, bananas, sausages and mandazis. Sundays are a busy time in Nairobi so this would’ve been the equivalence to lunch for most people.

The MC

The MC

The most important person at either a fundraiser or the wedding, is the MC. He’s the one who is meant to be the life of the party and make things happen. At the fundraiser, his primary job is to get as much money out of people possible in a fun way. He sets the rules for ‘fines’ like not taking part or coming late.

Moses, Joy's cousin selling handkerchiefs.

Moses, Joy’s cousin selling handkerchiefs.

I had been warned to bring lots of small notes like 50, 100 and 200 shillings, which of course I did. Pete and I had already decided how much we wanted to give which was a winner because it saved us bringing a present back from our overseas trip next week. I was pretty happy that we didn’t get fined, although it doesn’t really matter because it was all going to the wedding costs.

People made pledges on behalf of those who couldn't be there.

People made pledges on behalf of those who couldn’t be there.

I did however, buy 4 raffle tickets. We don’t actually need any more ‘stuff’ but people weren’t really buying this so I hoped to kick things off. There were lots of prizes including a live chicken, humungous watermelon, USB stick and a number of wrapped secret gifts. At the end of the day people bought up large on the raffle tickets which was great.

room No matter how much I tell people just to treat us normally, it’s often far from it. People used to call me ‘their boss’ when I was just their colleague, simply because I’m white. Hence, I got to be on the VIP list and guess who got called up first to give their donation. Of course, I couldn’t just walk up the front, I had to be danced up the aisle. Normally I hide behind the camera but didn’t have a chance this time.

With Lucy and Joy. We all used to work together.

With Lucy and Joy. We all used to work together.

You get given a basket (mine was yellow) to hold. Then you have to count out the 1,000 shilling notes to give towards the wedding. The MC then gives people the opportunity to add to it. After this, the money goes to the accounts people to add to the funds. While I was dreading the whole thing, it actually wasn’t as bad as I thought.

The same yellow basket I had to hold.

The same yellow basket I had to hold.

Other people got to put in their amounts – family members, singles, marrieds or anyone else who hadn’t been given the opportunity. Within 3 hours the whole things was over.

Joy's sister and cousin pledging money.

Joy’s sister and cousin pledging money.

Towards the end of the evening there was one highlight and that was the raffle draw. Yes, I got to win the USB drive which was great because mine had got lost. However, there was something much more fun to finish the day.

The chicken.

Basically there were two teams vying for the chicken, me and another guy. People were putting money on the chook, it was a bit like an auction. I REALLY didn’t want to take the live chicken home. I live in an apartment block, imagine what the neighbours would think? And I was really worried I would have to hold the thing, which was far from my favourite hobby. I got desperate enough to put 200 shillings on the other team. In the end they won by only fifty cents. I was more than happy for the chicken to go to the other guy, and he was a happy camper.

liz n girls All in all, it was a great afternoon and no doubt we will have many more of these to go to, each with their own flavour.

 

 

 

 

Go the supporters!

Yesterday we joined 85,000 people running in the City2Surf. Actually we didn’t run, Pete and I waited for our team of 6 to get past the finish line with food and goodies to help them recuperate. It was well below 10 degrees and there was a howling onshore wind. When I say howling, I meant screaming.

We had all of our gear on that we wore up Mt Kilimanjaro and we were still cold. That wind was wicked.

We had 2 jobs, one to find the crew (no phones work there) and the other was to cheer them on if we saw them running. Well, no one turned up at the assigned spot, probably because as soon as they finished they jumped on the buses to go somewhere warmer. But one of us couldn’t leave just in case someone did arrive. In the end Pete stood around talking with people about our work in Africa.

I couldn’t stand the wind coming off the ocean so decided to wait it out at the finish line seeing if I could spot any of our guys. Some came in at 65 minutes, the last at 2 hours. It was a very long morning.
It did get me thinking about the people who are committing to support us while we work in Kenya this coming year. It aligned a lot with what I experienced yesterday.

1. You don’t always know what’s going on but hope they’re okay.

All we knew was the team was starting at a few different times and were making their way to Bondi Beach.

People sort of understand what we’re going to be doing in Kenya but no matter how much we explain it, until you go there, you don’t really get it.

 

2. Sometimes technology lets you down.

Mobile phones generally didn’t work at Bondi Beach, there were way too many people.

In Kenya the power will go off when it feels like it or will be incredibly slow. This may mean a delay in us getting back to people. We’re lucky though. We know some people in Mozambique who’ve only just got the internet!

 

3. At some stage someone has to pay to help someone else to make it.

We got out of bed really early, travelled over an hour to get to a place that was freezing for no one else to turn up. That was after going out to buy all the food that no one came to eat.

People who partner with us are actually putting a meal on our table and a roof over our head. It’s very humbling to know your reliance is on other people who are giving up their personal money for you.

 

4. There’s real joy in knowing they’ve reached their goal and you were a part of it.

It was great to be able to message and talk with some of our team who ran in the race. Their times were outstanding and I am always amazed and how we can push our bodies. I was super elated to be able to watch our daughter Lizzie get to the finish line and cheer her on.

When supporters hear about our work they know it’s happening because of them. Some look at their donation as a very small part but to us it’s huge. Any prayer, kind thought or encouraging word goes a long way.

5. It’s nice to get home and enjoy your life.

Pete decided that it would be a good idea to walk the 26km’s back home as part of our training to climb Mt Kilimanjaro again, just like we did last year. We made it to the city which is about 10km’s and then called it quits. We were tired. It was so nice to come home to eat food and watch a DVD.

I’ve always told people that they should never apologise for their TV, living conditions, number of cars or the house they live in. Everyone works extremely hard and if you live in Sydney, you live in one of the most expensive cities in the world. Battling poverty at a grass roots level is not everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s ours. So enjoy your life, it’s the only one you’re going to get!