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Reflections on first #4040Night Online Edition

I find myself more desperate for happy, silly, sweet, funny or heartwarming stories in this season. You know that your heartstrings are guaranteed a good pull by Humans of New York, and Goodable on Twitter, among others. I’ll be scrolling through the news like my eyesight is messed then land on a dancing baby and I literally want to ‘send to all’ immediately. Imagine my joy when my own people are the centre of the joy amidst all the chaos??

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When we realised we had to cancel #4040Night mid last month, it was such a blow. We’d already put in plenty of work and resources but then again, what’s more important than staying alive?

The idea to take the event online came with all sorts of humps, from general lack of knowledge to all sorts of limitations on delivery. Once we’d make some progress, lockdown ensued, lessening the options even more but God surely doesn’t slumber.

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I’m especially grateful for friends and networks.

K pointed me in the direction of the platform we ended up using, a literal lifesaver, our music selection came from one of our longest-serving partners and kept the participants excited all night; our host remained patient through the preps to D-day, always sharing counsel and good vibes and I’ve just realised from the 3 businesses which provided the winners’ prizes, two of them are owned or managed by awesome women I went to school with and the third, I co-own? Talk about bonds for life!

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When we had 3 minutes to the end of our broadcast, it stopped abruptly.

I’d prayed to God the entire night before and only asked one thing, that the Quiz runs from start to finish without any glitches (We’d had similar issues during the trials). It’s the one thing that ended up happening. I was beside myself with a cocktail of emotions!

When I got to messages immediately after, there were different moods from “What just happened?” to “Fix this now!” to “Wow, we had such a blast!” It was one of those moments when you want to just laugh and cry simultaneously. I can mostly laugh now but wow, wharramess!

In the end, we put up a replacement round and were totally humbled to see more than half the participants return despite the mishap which took about an hour (of total craziness) to fix.

Still, through all this, there were a bunch of angels uplifting me and my heart rested.

We didn’t expect to raise much especially because we kept participation free, well knowing that everyone needs all they can get for their livelihoods, now, more than ever.

Still, some people worked overtime!

My friend R stopped mid quiz to reach out to 10 people to each send $20 while P who had already sent in a big donation participated with her partner who then matched it, in the midst of us figuring out how to get back on air.Friends from 4 continents and different parts of the country were just casually chatting and having the best time in the moment and it was pure joy! ?

To me the 3,095,000 we raised is extremely handy, coming at a time when we know it’ll be difficult to keep our doors open but more importantly, I’m amazed by the power of community.

These days I often punctuate my sentences with “While the world is coming to an end…” (Seriously guys, how are strangers still sending just ‘Hi’ while the world is coming to an end?)

I digress.

Friends, family, acquaintances, strangers are still coming through for each other even ‘while the world is coming to an end.’ 

I’m deeply honoured to experience this in my work and in my life.

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Written by Esther Kalenzi

Celebrating life and humour; attempting to make a difference in deed and through my first love, writing.

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