The Oxford Givology chapter organized a stand at the Oxford International Festival today– although we were the only charity among the sea of cultural societies, the event was a huge success! To raise funding for the Peace School, we cooked traditional Ugandan food, displayed pictures and crafts, and handed out brochures about Givology.
To prepare, I spent all night yesterday putting together our decorations, banner, and dishes. With Shaan, I cooked massive quantities of food! Even though I ended the night around 2 AM and then woke up at 6 AM to put the finishing touches on the food, the satisfaction of having a well-run stand and meeting lots of interested students and townsfolk made the sacrifice of sleep very worthwhile! I admit, having never cooked any of these traditional Ugandan dishes before, I was petrified of messing up the flavors, especially since we have to make bulk portions to feed 60-70 people! With Shaan offering his sous chef support, we managed to make: 1) Chicken Curry, 2) Bean Stew, 3) Banana Custard, 4) Sim-Sim Cookies, and 5) Fried Rice. Alas, I never imagined how tiring deboning a chicken can be, or mashing 50 bananas together!
The next morning, I woke up bright and early to stew the curries. Without the help of Alex, Can, Khushbu, and Farrell, it would have been impossible to set up our stand. Braving the rain and the challenge of carrying seven large pots and pans, we managed to get to the Exam Schools and set up our stand. Alex printed a lot of great flyers for the events to hand out, and together, we served the food and talked about Givology and the Peace School to everyone.
Below are two youtube videos that highlight our work!
We made approximately 160 pounds (roughly 275 dollars), or about 100 pounds ($170 dollars) net of costs. Even though it’s not a substantial sum of money, the amount of exposure and show of support we received felt really amazing. As the CEO of Givology, I’m often involved in the strategic side of the organization. Yet, to have the opportunity to organize and carry out a microfundraiser is just as meaningful – to interact with people and to share our vision and mission!
And here are a few photos of the prep process- I tried my best to make a banner that resembled our logo, all with a set of acrylic paints and cotton roll-up canvas in my dorm room!
Special thanks once again to (in no particular order):
Shaan: For cooking, emotional support, and taking half of the painful de-boning work! For putting up with me when I was going through my “freak out” phase on Friday night.
Alex: For being such a great spokeswoman of Givology (I swear, I feel like Alex can do everything and sell anything!), carrying large amounts of groceries and pans back and forth (Alex and me – two girls, none over 5’4, yet managing to carry loads fit for a camel), printing all our brochures, and of course, leading the Givology initiative at Oxford
Can: For her positive, “can-do” attitude, and much appreciated assistance in carrying our dishes, serving all our customers, helping us fulfill our ushering duties, flagging down all attendees to hand out our flyers, and for being such a wonderful Givology volunteer!
Khushbu: For her steadfast help in setting up and manning the stand, for being the first customer =) [the first sale is always the hardest!], and for her calm and rational logic in the face of pressure, including flagging down the *very late* taxi man!
Farrell: For finding us forks and cups at the very last minute, handling all the details that we forgot, being supper supportive of Givology Oxford (and pulling all his friends to buy food from us!) Without Farrell, there would be no way for us to serve all the food that we made!
So what can two girls, both under 5'4, with limited experience cooking for crowds, piles of homework and an early deadline, accomplish? Turns out, quite a bit! The Oxford University International Festival was held today, from 10am to 4pm, in the formidable Exam Schools building, with the goal of show-casing the variety of cultures that exist at the university. I'm happy to report that Givology was featured prominently as the only charity, not only with a cultural stall but a food one as well. We decided it would be best to focus on one of our projects, to give people an example of what we do and how we do it, and as such we decided to raise awareness about the Circle of Peace school in Uganda, and its expansion project.
The roughly one thousand people that attended were given a flavour of traditional Ugandan cuisine to support the Peace School, thanks to Joyce's truly incredible dedication in the kitchen, beginning last night and continuing early this morning. (I've instructed Joyce never to doubt her culinary skills ever again). On the menu was Ugandan chicken curry, bean stew, fried rice and for dessert, a very popular banana custard and sim-sim cookies (made from sugar and sesame seeds). The best part? We sold virtually everything, for a total of £160, which included some generous cash donations.
On the cultural side of things, we displayed a hand-painted Givology banner, Ugandan crafts, photos from Joyce's trip to the school and various other bits about Givology, such as our flyer and Annual Report. Our display attracted many passers-by, and we spent most of our time talking to people about what Givology does, and how we help the Peace School. The positive response really made all the hard work of moving heavy objects and large pots filled with food completely worth it, and Joyce and I both agreed that a hands-on approach to Givology helps revitalize our mission and move us forward in our goals.
I admit to having my doubts along the way, but today really proved to me that the best way forward is to mix a bit of determination and enthusiasm with a healthy dose of self-belief; you'll be amazed at what you're capable of.
For a small taste of the event, visit this website: http://festival.oxfordisc.com/ And for a closer look at the Peace School, click here: http://www.wix.com/joycemeng/uganda2009