Last night was the close of the Development Market competition. My friend Wakio has been working with me on the project proposal………for what is now officially called the GDVA Center-Pilot (Green Dreams Value Adding Center). Days of work have gone into the project, hours of discussions, arguments, laughs and writing for africa. I,m hopeless with converting time, even tracking time and Wakio had set up a page on the internet that showed us the deadline entry time. We should have set an alarm on. As the day inched into the night we became more stressed, tired and hungry, eating and drinking whatever was available and in closest vicinity……at one moment banana crisps with deadly hot chilli…………Moniko (my son) fighting to keep them in his corner as he watched t.v waiting to be taken swimming as soon as we were through………The project demands seemed to grow with every hour frustrating us as it felt we were repeating issues constantly……….at one point I stopped to nap…..5 minutes………Wakio slogged on..thankfully.
The girls came home I rememeber them somewhere on the perifery of the evening chatting excitedly about their day tomorrow. Moniko like a lounge lizard was still watching t.v, now dvd….Mulan keeping the family entertained.
I had wanted us to submit the proposal well before the deadline time, giving us a few hours in case of hiccups……..power outages, network failure, the need seek an open internet cafe in the night………………..But fate had something else in store.
The final page of submissions kept bouncing back saying we were over the word count………(we had about half an hour to competition close). Wakio working faster than I could even visually keep up was punching away trying to submit time after time. For a while I imagined her putting in the same answer for all 9 questions…….I really couldn’t keep up. It seemed the answers were somehow gaining characters behind the scenes. I imagined I could have a darn virus on the machine……if this was to continue we would never get the darn thing submitted.
The bold red text kept popping up with every submission………..first it was question 6,4,5,9………..we rectified them………then it was 1,6,4,9,5,,,,,,,,,,,,,I was more convinced by the minute that she was posting the same answers into all the questions and was begining to think the situation was out of hand and that Wakio had gone quite mad……..and frankly it was way past my bed time……………..the kids had vanished, the puppy was asleep……….nothing was making sense……………………………….Then all of a sudden our worst nightmare came true………..THE COMPETITION CLOSED!!!!
The room was filled with deadly silence as we read the screen. We had been working on this for 12 hours straight!! How could the world be so darn cruel.???
How did we miss the time? We were what looked like half an hour late. Wakio said we were within time but questioned the repetetive mistakes on the word count as we were well within the parameters.
For a moment I thought of the project. Was that it? It had become a permanent thought in my mind, developing day after day, hour after hour……….there was still so much to do. I looked forward to discussing and designing the floor plans with my brother Dominic………this simply could not be. ………….I was holding myself back from yelling at Wakio, how could we have missed the time line??
Wakio was outwardly very calm, I suppose we both were. Though raging internally. What could we do? Just accept we had missed the bus and pack it in? At one point Wakio said ‘ Well, we’ve done it, it’s all here, you have a project’…………again I had a quick thought about her sanity……….and now what? Go back to hustling this idea in the donor and Ngo world? Idea hustlers? Again?
I remember at the outset, she told me she would do all that was needed as she believed in the project, and she knew I would simply not have the patience to deal with the back n forth involved in the thing.
The project concept is great, the proposal put together by Wakio is brilliant! There just had to be something we could do!!
Our minds started racing Wakio was still punching keys and flipping through pages. The reality was, we were time barred!
Not in my world….I grabbed a momment on the computer and wrote a letter begging for a chance to get our proposal submitted, using every excuse in the book, I mentioned the rain outside, poor internet conectivity,the bouncing back of our answers erronously, and in a final last ditch attempt I even mentioned the post electoral conflict in the country and the need for projects like ours to happen. Then I sent it. To an address of someone at the world bank. Someone……….who knows who. The sanity tables had turned meanwhile and Wakio was looking at me strangley. I must have looked pathetic. I was desperate. If it wasn;t for her help the letter would never have gotten to the right place. And some poor guy/girl out there would wonder about us africans when they recieved my panic letter in the morning. Wakio however found a glaringly obvious adress to send it to that somehow I could not see at the time…………..I was prepared to send it to everyone at the world bank, and in every country too!
The letter went and I proceeded to get ready for bed. It was back to normal chores, and somewhat in a daze I found myself swotting mosquiotes in my bed room singing Chers ‘If I Could Turn Back Time’……..it seemed appropriate. It was better than crying. Somehow it felt impossible that that this had happened. Impossible but not final.
As I was preparing the living room bed for Wakio, she called me back to the computer. I had really had enough. What more torture could there be. My eyes were so tired I could hardly even read the screen. But there it was.
Staring out at us. BOLD RED WORDS ‘Due to technical problems, the DM2008 competition closing date has been extended to March 22 GMT3.00.’
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!The rest is history. Wakio punched the proposal back in and submitted it, we even got a response giving us a reference number. Meanwhile I decided to do the dishes and mopped floor with puppy painfully attached to my ankles.
Deep in the back of my mind I was questioning the probability of this actually happening. Could it be a practical joke?
Nevertheless, the project was submitted. And then we recieved an email response from the DM2008 team apologising for the inconvenience and informing us of the extension time. There really is a God!!!
And finally as I got ready for bed after 15 hours of project writing, I realised I was still in my swimming costume. We missed the pool, not the bus.