Have you ever been to a place where you feel like “how in the world did I get here?”
That's how I am feeling now as I am writing this blog in the heat (I will take it anytime) of the beautiful city of Bamako, capital city of the Republic of Mali (West Africa).
The journey started 2 years ago when two of my co-workers told me that they were going to Africa, in a project that they initiated 2 years prior to our conversation. I wanted to know more about it. They told me that it all started while sharing a cup of coffee;they thought about going to Africa just for fun. The fun became a dream: to make a difference in kids'lives. For 2 long years they saved money with all intentions focused on going. This time, they were ready to go. Everything was ready.
What could I say? I am the kind of guy that likes to plan things. But while planning, these people were doing. To tell you the truth : I was both mad and inspired. Mad because they were doing something I was planning to do for a long time and inspired because I could learn from them. Above all, they didn't apply for grants and sponsorships, instead they used their own money!!!!
I couldn't resist. I had to be part of this.
At first, I didn't have much to offer to them, because it was only one week before their trip. Nevertheless, I did a radio show with them as my guests (that is how far I could go). The more I listened to them, the more inspired I became. I almost had tears in my eyes. They were also emotional . Some of them are of African ancestry but had never been there. What a big heart!!!!
I couldn't wait for them to return. And they did. They came with pictures and they were so excited about what they did . I was so proud of them. I did a second radio show with them (don't ever think I have a lack of subjects in my show). This time it was too much for me. I had to be part of this. If they did not want me, I would do it anyway. Fortunately , they wanted me to be part of their journey (my charms maybe. Oh I forgot to tell you they were all ladies. So I was in good company).
I called a couple of friends and asked them to help (I have connections too). One is a movie director and the other is an expert editor . They did a 7 minute documentary of the project for free (these ladies can inspire anybody!!!). Since then, I have been part of what ever they are doing. I am offering my talents of...(I just forgot which talents I have. I just have too many lol).
The next step of the project was to return to Mali and complete the second phase of the project they had started. But before that, the ladies had to set up their own non-for-profit organization through which they would do all the upcoming projects. The name of the organization is “Leave your Mark /Laisse ta marque” (bilingual). What a great name!!
So here I am with them in Mali, at the eve of their second project. What will be my role? Whatever they ask me to do. I don't really care. I wanted to be part of this, and I am now. It's an honour to be with a group of people who will make history. I am documenting everything they are doing, maybe the Toronto film festival will have to invite me to show the movie of the project (they will have to insist though).
Moral of the story? Do you want to go to Africa? Share a cup of coffee with friends ........you will end up there.
Always a pleasure.