A few weeks ago, I asked my colleagues here at CGI if they were interested in doing the ‘Kibera for a Day’ Challenge a group. Since CFK created the challenge, most of them knew about it… but no one had yet done the challenge on their own. They enthusiastically agreed and we began planning what challenge items we would include. I must admit, even though I work with generous, smart, curious people… in the back of my mind I was thinking, “Are they just doing this because I asked them?” But irrespective of their motivations, on Wednesday, November 9th, we took the challenge together. People arrived in the morning barefoot or in sandals (Day 5). Seeing us all barefoot, I thought to myself, “Wow. Peer pressure really does work.” After lunch, we went out together and picked up trash in the adjoining neighborhood (Day 1). As we picked beer cans out of neatly trimmed hedges, I thought “This is really nice of everyone to chip in and do this. What great colleagues I have.” After the trash pick-up, we kicked around a Kibera ragball and successfully convinced other colleagues on the same floor to join us (Day 3). See the video of ‘game’ below. And finally, we closed the afternoon with good conversation over a steamy cup of tea (Day 13). We joked about our amateur soccer moves. We laughed about how much beer related trash we found – not surprising for a college campus, I suppose. We commented that we should do things like this more often. What was this? This wasn’t the trash clean up or the soccer game or being barefoot – but making time to connect with another as people. This means taking the time to have casual, non-work related conversations (with tea!) as much as we brainstorm and plan together. And it was then that it hit me.
We did it. We learned something from the challenge. We learned something about Kibera. We learned a little more about each other. And that was the whole point. We might not live in a place that is as dirty as Kibera and we consider it a challenge to go barefoot. But by the end of the day, I think our office felt a sense of accomplishment and teamwork. It’s that same spirit of teamwork that I admire so deeply about those living in Kibera.
Have you taken the challenge yet? If not, give it a shot. You might just learn something important.
p.s. An email from a colleague the day after we took the challenge: “I just want to say thank you for an awesome experience playing soccer on the lawn today! I was reminded of how great a privilege it is to work with each of you and of the important work that CFK does everyday in Kibera! We need more days like today, especially as we all do so much with less and less.”