Life does not always go the way you plan. Many times, life throws up many pleasant surprises.
When we got together as friends and decided to climb, we didn’t know at the time, that we would also use our climb to help raise money for charity. It was in our second meeting together as a team, that I raised the issue of using the climb to give back to community. I was given the task to look around and propose who we would partner with for the climb. I contacted Esther and Benjamin of 40 Days Over 40 Smiles (abbreviated 40-40). 40-40 is a youth led charity organization that focuses on supporting vulnerable children through raising money using social media. I told Esther and Benjamin that we wanted to partner with 40-40 to help raise money for any of the children’s projects that they were looking to implement in 2015.
Our first email exchange with 40-40 was on February 25th, 2015 in which Benjamin listed the 3 children’s homes they intended to work with and the challenges that each home had. The three homes were Elohim, Abetaavu and Muzaana. Each home takes care of children with different vulnerabilities. Elohim takes care of children who are abandoned by their fathers who are soldiers, Abetaavu looks after children with disabilities and Muzaana takes care of street children. While the homes each had unique needs, the common need among all three homes was mattresses. We thus agreed between the climbing party and 40-40, that we would help raise money for mattresses for the three homes. The three homes combined needed 100 hundred mattresses totaling 5 million Uganda shillings.
I spoke to the pastor at my church and he allowed me to advertise the mattress drive in church. I am proud to say that the very first donation to the cause came from a member of my church. 40-40 graciously developed an ad which we used for raising funds. In the months of June and July 2015, we posted appeals on Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp. We sent repeated reminders and gave several updates as and when we received contributions. At times the collection seemed slow, the money was only trickling in a bit at a time, and I feared that we would not be able to raise even half the money for the mattresses. Some people held off giving to the cause until we had climbed Rwenzori. On the day we climbed to Margherita, on many occasions I wanted to give up, but knowing I had a duty to get to the peak, in order to get the donations for the mattresses, kept me going.
In the end, by the grace of God, we actually raised more money than was required. While we had set out to raise 5 million shillings for 100 mattresses, by the time we handed over the money to 40-40 on 30th July, we had raised 750,000/= over the targeted amount. As I write this, we are expecting money from 2 more people who had pledged to give and so in the end, we will have raised one million shillings more – making it 6 million shillings.
The money came from far and wide, from friends within and outside of Uganda. We were truly humbled by the response and overwhelmed that people gave over and above the target. We were humbled that people could trust us enough to send the money to us. That was truly a miracle. The other miracle we experienced was that The New Vision, news paper gave us free space to write a story about our climb for mattresses. That was their way to help us raise money.
To all of you who gave, my climbing mates and I say a very big thank you! We appreciate you for giving to this cause and we pray that God will give you back 100 fold for what you gave.
May we never take mattresses for granted and may we never give up the habit of giving!