Monday, November 12, 2007

They Came, They Saw, They Gave

Well I am happy to report that the Watoto Hope Charity Dinner went off without a hitch! The rain ,which we've had all week, stopped and it was a lovely cool spring evening on the Harbour.

We kicked off with Drumbeats performing on the balcony. Anyone who wasn't sure where the venue was only had to follow the drumming! Everyone then moved inside and was able to join in the performance with the drum or tambourine placed on their chair.

It finished with a conga line round the room and out the door (which is how they cleverly collect all the instruments). Lots of fun and a great icebreaker. They generously performed for half their normal fee - so if you are looking for a great icebreaker /team building exercise for an event - give them a call.

The venue looked terrific - no photos yet but I'll update this post when I get a hold of some pictures. We also had the Australian Girls Choir perform - they walked in singing "I Still Call Australia Home" (their signature song) and followed up with "Starlight Express", "Keeping the Dream Alive" and finished with "O Yeah - Can You Hear Me Calling" . They were really marvellous and everyone enjoyed their performance so much. They even did an encore.

Matthew Smeal is a Sydney based photojournalist and he took us through some of his very powerful images that he took while on trips to Uganda. I have copies of his photos but don't want to post it without his permission - so I'll ask if it's ok to put one or two of them up here.

There were so many people who donated their time and skills.

My friend Allison asked her friends Lee and Graeme and to do the A/V which they did - free of charge. The normal fee would be around $3500 for an event like ours. Friends like Ken (see below on saxaphone) and Dave came and provided fantastic music for the evening - free of charge.

Elisa Colla - a very gorgeous and very talented young lady from our church sang with the band - her first real "gig" - but certainly not her last. If she doesn't end up very famous I'll be very suprised!

Even the session muso who turned up to play keyboard free of charge refused to take the $50 travelling money.

In a world that is often dark and cold - isn't it nice to know there are so many people willing to do wonderful things just for the asking? It's been a real lesson to the four of us to always ask. Sure the answer might be no - but so often it's "yes" and an enthusiastic "yes" too.

Mark Bradshaw from Watoto's Australian Head Office was there as were Unia and Michael from the Watoto Children's Choir.

Unia travels with the choir and Michael is an 11 year old who is in the choir. Isn't he gorgeous?

It was wonderful that they were with us - not only to be part of the evening but also to answer people's very valid questions about how much of the funding reaches the kids versus admin costs etc.

It was good to stand at the back of the room and just take in the fact that it was all really happening. Everyone was switched on and attentive to the information - which was great to see. It's always tricky to present a pretty graphic story of desperate need on the one hand and on the other hand not make people feel so uncomfortable that they look for the nearest exit. After all people have come to hear about the charity but also to have a fun night out with friends. Without tooting our horns too much - I think we nailed it - people were engaged in the information but obviously also had a great night. We were supposed to finish at 11pm - there were still people sitting at their tables chatting etc. at midnight!

So - what was the punchline? From a room of 165 people we raised $104,000! I was hoping for a house which is $38,000 - so $104,000 was just gobsmacking. I am rarely a) lost for words and b) near tears - but believe me - I was both. Unbelievable. And the great thing was that it wasn't a few people giving a lot but everyone giving something which I think is a wonderful thing as it means everyone was engaged in the message and everyone made a response.

Thankyou everyone who came. Thank you to everyone who gave their time and effort to make the evening so successful. Thankyou to those who said yes to bringing a table of friends. Thankyou everyone who gave.

Now we can build two houses - which will totally change the life of two mothers and 16 children. Plus the additional funds can be used towards another building.

Thankyou. Thankyou. Thankyou.

1 comment:

Caitlin O'Connor said...

AMAZINGLY WONDERFUL! Well done! Are these the same kids I saw on the Brisbane news getting their teeth checked last week?