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Puppies and Photo Shoots

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To give you an idea of what a ridiculous and wonderful day I’ve had today, I’ll tell you how it started. While eating porridge with Mama Lillian and Nkhongono, I see Mama Lillian stand up and start yelling out the window at Uncle Jay. I was thinking there was some sort of dispute until she started speaking in English, and said that there were three mysterious new puppies outside in the yard! Nkhongono and I ran out, and sure enough, three other puppies, not the ones from the family dog, Cheetah, were running about the garden. We then spent the morning oohing and aahing over the new additions to the family, and thus I started off my day beautifully.

The day continued with very smooth updates and letter writing, and we managed to finish by 11:30am, so I spent some time getting some papers organized and getting ready for our impact measurement workshop that afternoon. Half an hour before the workshop, I realized that I had not yet taken the photos of Teacher Loveness that I owed her. For those of you who followed the blog on the trip last year, I had a team building and process creation workshop with the staff in which we undertook the Marshmallow Challenge. The winning team including Teachers Juliet, Tamara and Loveness, and they each won a photo shoot with me and a minimum of 50 printed photos. (Photos are very expensive to print in Zambia, thus the Hope staff often do not have very many photos of themselves.) Long story short, I still had not taken Teacher Loveness’s photos from her winning team last year!

So as we begin to take photos, the rest of the teachers and Hope staff, most of them normally very quiet, diligent and reserved, burst into a frenzy of striking ridiculous poses. We had everything from pretending to chase each other to pretending to smell a flower to climbing up one of the ridiculous 8-foot tall old ant hills. It was a complete riot, and for a solid 20 minutes, I heard nothing but, “Joann, another picture over here!” It was so nice to see everyone break out of their shells and really enjoy themselves.

Our photo shoot, believe it or not, actually made the perfect segue into our impact measurement workshop. The Hope staff can at times be shy about sharing their opinions in these workshops, so having them amped up, happy and ready to be a bit loud was perfect. We had a great session, and I’m thrilled with the theory of change they created. We used the format for impact measurement that I learned at  recent pro bono workshop held by Mission Measurement, and the workshop went perfectly. The torch will soon be passed to two Stanford business school students who will be volunteering with us to define strong metrics in August and September this year.

All in all, it was a wonderful, incredibly fun day, and I’m excited to have another week and a half with the Hope staff, hopefully with many more ridiculous moments.

  • Scott Barbeau | Jul 16, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    Great stuff Joann….keep posting!

  • Julia | Jul 16, 2011 at 10:13 pm


  • Spark Ventures | Jul 18, 2011 at 8:39 am

    Thanks, guys! We’re having a good time, and we’ll be sure to bring back lots of pictures!

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