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Monday, August 29, 2011

My Journey to a Campaign

Guess what! I am staying one more month in Burundi (I know you know that already, I just wanted to remind you).

I also know that you are dying to know the reasons why I am staying. The news is for sale. I am going to give you my bank account for you to deposit the money if you want to know the information

But before anything, a plug for my friends Freddy and Caitlin for their awesome wedding ceremony last Saturday. I heard their MC was like a Rock Star (I am wondering who he might be...)

Coming back to me staying one more month (I wish it could be more than that), I will be working on a major fund raising campaign for a foundation named “Fondation Roi Mwezi Gisabo” (King Mwezi Gisabo Foundation) whose president is Ambassador Albert Mbonerane (he is the Martin Luther King of the environment here). What a blessing! Our goal? Saving Lake Tanganyika.

For a long time considered as one of the best national touristic attractions, the Lake Tanganyika is not what it used to be. Not long ago, its water was clear, people could swim in it, or learn to swim (that's my case), a surprising fauna developed there. Today, the lake is dying, more and more polluted and exploited. Somebody has to do something. I am glad I am part of this.

When I was given the contract to run the campaign, the first thing I did was to put together a team of people who I thought could help me (if I did not call you, be patient. I will do it soon). We have been working for a week now and, boy are we having fun. We believe in the project and we are not scared about the goal we set (which is really high)

I am now writing this blog near the pool at Hotel Club du Lac Tanganyika, near the lake. Boy, this place is gorgeous. This hotel used to be one of the best we had in Burundi. The war destroyed it in the nineties and somebody took over the ownership of the hotel and started everything from scratch. Now the hotel is like a paradise. I think we can do the same for the lake

Maybe you have ideas of how we could save our Lake (I am talking to my fellow Burundians, or anybody who has the environment at heart). You are welcome to give a hand (I promise you to be your friend if you do). I will keep you posted on how things are rolling down here

Now it's time to eat. I better go. Between you and the food, my choice is clear
Moral of the story? Do you want to save Lake Tanganyika? Just send me your ideas and I will be your friend forever (first come first served)

Always a pleasure

The Journeyman

Monday, August 22, 2011

My Journey to one more month in Burundi

Guess what! I am staying one more month in Burundi (sorry Toronto paparazi)
Have you heard the phrase “be careful what you wish for because you may get it ”? It just happened to me.

As you have all read in my last blog (and I know you have), I was talking about making a difference in Burundi. I guess somebody was listening (or reading). For one month, I will be working on a project that I cannot mention for now (the papers are not signed yet lol). But stay tune to your local TV station you are going to hear about it. I can't wait to start.

It has been a wonderful experience down here at all levels (getting married being the best one). God has granted me (and I am saying this with all humility) the capacity to help people get or accomplish a dream. And once it happens, I cannot tell you the joy I feel to see somebody's dream come true. And for some reasons, those people seem to find me

Just the other day, a good friend of mine came to see me asking for guidance. She knew that she had a dream to help people, but she did not know where to start or who to help. After about half an hour conversation, all was clear and she was ready to start. She took action right away. I saw her two days ago, and she told me that she has found her dream. Guess what! Somebody just promised her 500,000 Burundi Francs so that she can start working on her dream. Is that cool or what?

I heard someone say that in the vision there is provision. Most of the time we don't start doing anything because we don't see where the money is going to come from. I have never started anything knowing where the means would come from. Money always finds me working towards my goal. Starting anything almost cost nothing. It could be planning, it could be talking to people about your dream, it could be asking for advice, but action is required to accomplish anything

So, please don't wait. If you have a dream, start where you are and move towards your goal. The provision will find you busy working. I read in a very good book that when we ask it is always given. So, why not ask for more, and while waiting for it to come, keep being busy and we will see you at the top (that's the Journeyman's wisdom)
Moral of the story? Do you want your dream come true? Keep reading my blogs and somebody will give you 500,000 Burundi Francs.

Always a pleasure
The Journeyman

Monday, August 15, 2011

My Journey to My Birthday

As you are reading this blog, it's a national holiday in Burundi. Nobody went to work today. Do you know why? Because it is my birthday (and I am saying this modestly)

This date also marks the anniversary of my third month in Burundi. I have enjoyed every moment of it (most often leading to going to bed at 3 AM). I have met longtime friends, I have made new ones, but most of all, it is the first time I am with all my brothers and my mom since 2002. What a joy for my mom to have his two sons getting married just one week apart! It is a month she will remember for a long time.
While working on my wedding, I found time to meet business owners, government officials, superstars (at least one: Yvonne Chaka Chaka) and other service providers.

Out of the blue, one prominent figure here in Burundi called me a few weeks ago and asked me if I could help his organization achieve one of its goals: financial autonomy. I was both honoured and pleased to give a hand.

This last Friday, I found myself speaking to his staff members and partners about a system I have been teaching for years now. I had been used to this presentation, but this time it was like magic. I could see the light in their eyes. All of sudden, nothing was impossible for them anymore. After my presentation, they couldn't let me go. They started talking to me about their personal dreams, what they have achieved in the past, and so on. It was a blast

Suddenly, what I thought was a simple system turned out to be a solution for my country. Can you imagine if everybody was working on achieving their goals and dreams? There would be no time for fighting (that is my opinion). Man, I couldn't sleep that night. All that I was thinking about was to find out how my system could help as many people as possible. Before you knew, I called out my friends Machado, Nana and Adrien (and what a joy to see my wife joining in the conversation!) for a brainstorming session. Ideas started to flow like crazy. We are ready to make a difference in Burundi.

What I did not know at that time was that, behind my back, my wife was organizing a surprise birthday party. Boy she did surprise me. She had invited over ten of my good friends, two of them drove me away from home while the others were coming. Long story short, at 2 AM we were still talking, drinking (soft drinks for me lol) and singing. We are still laughing at my friend Kijanya's jokes. He is a crazy dude.
Moral of the story? Do you want a surprise birthday party? Just call out your friends for a brainstorming session and you will make a difference while having fun at the same time.

Always a pleasure

The Journeyman

Monday, August 8, 2011

My Journey to the finish line

What a week! I don't even know where to start (should I stop here then?)
Were you watching TV this last Saturday? I hope you did otherwise you missed my wedding. There is still hope though. Next year, August 6 will be a national holiday for our one year wedding anniversary, and there will be tons of reports and documentaries about it. Then you will get a chance to see what you missed.

Seriously. I don't know how I would have made it without my friends and family. I am still amazed how people spent sleepless nights just to make the event a success (I am still wondering how I am going to thank them). Once again, my wedding reminded me that the best investment we can make is to invest in people.

The event took several months in the making. There have been some ups and downs, but we made it. The whole story is a book by itself. Things went exactly as planned (in terms of dates), but the path to get there was a learning process for me. I cannot tell you that everything was in place to make the event happen. It took a lot of faith, sacrifice and commitment, but I do not regret every single moment of it.

Twenty four hours before the wedding, I was still running all over the place, more than once, I had to expect miracles to happen. Early in the afternoon, I came to a place where I had no options at all. I had to find a solution quickly or there would be no wedding. You know what I did? Can you guess? Ok, I will give you the answer. I did....nothing. Instead, I went to the beach to relax with my Best Man. I knew the solution would come to me at its own time. Looking at me, you would have thought that there was nothing to get done, even though the time was ticking.

Do you know how the solution came? Not the way I was expecting (That is always the case). I got a call from my mom asking me about a small detail about the event, I promised her to make some calls and I would get back to her shortly. The first phone call I made was to a family member. Everything went fine, but at the end of our conversation he just went: “there is a voice that tells me that you are worried about something. What is it?” At first, I wanted to deny it, but, I thought that it wouldn't help.

I decided to tell him the story, and guess what, he gave me the solution I was looking for (and there was no way I could do it by myself).
I have learned that when we fight against what is happening to us, the situation tends to persist. But if we accept things as they are and go with the flow without stressing, the solution always comes naturally at its own time. I know that it is easy said than done, but trust me, it works. It doesn't matter what the problem is, there is always a solution.

Moral of the story? Do you want to get married? Just go to the beach to relax and the solution will come to you.

Always a pleasure
The Journeyman

Monday, August 1, 2011

My Journey to a meeting with the Princess of Africa

Can you believe that I am writing this blog on Sunday? Most of the times, my blogs are ready by Thursday, and then I post them on Monday (knowing that you are all sitting with great anticipation at your computers waiting for them)

It's been a busy and eventful week. Did you read my last blog? I hope you did, otherwise I won't continue writing this one. The event that I was talking about did in fact happen. She was here! And it was an honour and pleasure to meet her, talk with her, have lunch with her, joke with her, meet government officials with her, be her interpreter and the MC at the event in which she was the guest of honour. She is called the Princess of Africa (and she really is). Her name is Yvonne Chaka Chaka
Yes I was with her. I was with THE star of African music for an entire day and evening. I was with greatness. Check out her official website:

Chaka Chaka was invited by an organization of which I am part; and she was here in Burundi mainly because of her work with the United Nations in the fight against malaria. She is a true humanitarian and she has Africa in her heart. She was not supposed to sing at our gala, but what she did not know was that my boys Nicolas and Kijanya were planning to make her sing at all cost. Boy, it was magical to see my men sing with her!! They planned it so well that she could not resist. And when she hit the microphone, the crowd was at her feet. It was like a dream to see the Ngoma boys share the stage with Chaka Chaka, singing “Stand by me”, a song that she performed in the past with Bono of U2.

The gala was a huge success. Nobody wanted to go home. But it was mainly a huge relief for the organizers who put together the event (with so little help) and made it happen. I was with them, I saw what they went through to make it happen. I offered a little bit of help but the merit goes to them and they deserve it. Nana, Adrien and Machado, you are my heroes and the country should be proud of you (Nadege and Pamela, don't worry I did not forget you. You did a great job too).

I have been organizing events for quite some time and I know what it takes to make them happen. It takes serious commitment, dedication, faith and a lot of lack of sleep (lol). People who attend events just see the finished product but do not realize the amount of work that goes on behind the scene. It is so easy to see what went wrong at an event as a spectator and criticize, but the real challenge is to make it happen and very few people are willing to go the distance. Isn't that the same thing with success? We see successful people, admire them (or hate them), but we do not know what they went through to get there and the price they paid to be at the top.

What I have also seen is that, when you finally hit the goal, you don't even remember the pain you went through to get there (like a mother giving birth to a child). You want to do it again. That moment was this Friday when I saw Chaka Chaka on the stage singing with my Toronto friends, here in Burundi. Man, it was so great. I am sure Kijanya and Nicolas won't forget it too (for a long time)

Moral of the story? Do you want to meet a superstar? Just be one and you will meet the Princess of Africa.

Always a pleasure
The Journeyman