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My Journey to a week-end in Kigali

Just came back from a quick week-end in Kigali to visit my in-laws before I head back to Toronto. To say that I am tired is an understatement. I left Burundi at 7 AM on Saturday, and here I am, on Sunday evening writing this blog in my home in Burundi. A round trip to Kigali in less than twenty four hours is not an easy thing to do, especially when you had little sleep (I will blame my friend and best man Jeff lol)

The trip was like an escape for me. The last few weeks have been so crazy that I needed some space to think about different topics (could I really?). On my way to Rwanda, I had a note pad and a pen, just in case an idea could come into my mind (I know, I am just like that. My mind cannot stop thinking).I did not want to miss a G-mail (God Mail as my friend Barry likes to say).

As I was thinking about what the last four months of my life have been, I couldn't help but smile. Seriously! Every day when I wake up, I don't really know how things will unfold. Every minute is so exciting. I like to live in the unknown and let go and let God. It's quite an experience.

Do you want to know the details of the project I have been working on? Do I really have to insist or do you want it so bad. It's up to you. To tell the truth (not that I was lying before), I will tell you whether you like it or not.

I was hired to develop communication and fund raising strategies for an Environment Foundation, whose president is former Ambassador Albert Mbonerane. Many of my country fellows know this man because of his work to protect the environment. I knew him but had never met him before. I believe that my meeting with him was by God's design. I needed such a man in my life (by the way, he has agreed that I could write his biography. It is such a great honour for me). The Foundation wants to save Lake Tanganyika which is now getting polluted like crazy.

Anyway. What I did first was create a team that I would be working with. I called up my friends Machado (a great radio journalist), Rickie-Nelly, an independent journalist (who used to play in my team) and my great friend Richard (there is no way I could work without his help).

For three straight days, we put together a strategy and action plan that we would present to the Foundation. It was quite simple. First, have the media as partners of the campaign. It worked like magic. They all agreed to work with us for free. For three straight weeks, we did a media tour (if you did not hear us or see us on TV, I don't know where you were lol). Even now, the spots are still running. The Media has been unbelievably supportive.

Meanwhile, my team grew. We added JP for our documentary, Daniel-Cédric for our promotional tools and Annick for mass mobilization. It is now a dream team.
Do you know what happened next? Do you really want to know? Ok. I will let you know. I got a brilliant idea (from a brilliant man, it is not really surprising lol) of having Intercontact Services as our partner. For those who do not know, this company has been around for over 29 years and they are specialized in public relations (among other things). They agreed to work with us and book appointments for us with business owners (I am talking about CEOs of big corporations). In less than four weeks, we visited over 60 companies, asking for sponsors and support. The responses were simply phenomenal. I can't just believe how things are falling into place.

Next phase was to meet people with influence. We met organizations such us Rotary Club, pastors and priests, Union representatives and many others. All of them agreed to support the Foundation. Last Friday, we started the last phase of the local campaign which is to talk to the masses. We organized an open house and information session for all the population of the city and invited them to voluntarily contribute to the cause. In a few hours we gathered over 600,000 Burundi Francs. And that is only the beginning.

There have been a few challenges here and there, but over all, I feel so proud just to be part of this. Staring from next week, my job will be to ask the International community to join the movement that we started locally. Is that cool or what! Oh, I forgot something. A few weeks ago, we invited 13 CEOs of big companies for a dinner during which I conducted a mastermind session with them. Ideas that came from the session were out of this world. And I did it with flu symptoms. I felt that I was like Michael Jordan lol.

Man, you have no idea how I feel now. The great accomplishment in all of this is to have my wife supporting what I do. This was supposed to be our honeymoon. Instead, we are saving Lake Tanganyika.

During this campaign, there have been some defining moments. One of them was my meeting with a lady named Denise. I will tell you the story in my next blog post. Stay tuned, otherwise you will miss a great opportunity to read about a great Faith story.

Moral of the story. Do you want to work on a great project? Just get married and miss your honeymoon.

Always a pleasure
Patrick
The Journeyman
patrick@goalachieverscanada.com

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