Monday, December 11, 2006

Been Gone to Dance4Life

“At exactly 5.45pm (Nigeria Local Time) on November 25, 2006, about one thousand Nigerian youths gathered at the Fantasyland, Ikoyi, Lagos were connected with their counterparts in Egypt, Tanzania, Russia, Vietnam, UK and other parts of the world via satellite to Dance4Life by performing the Dance4Life drill as a demonstration of their commitment to a combined effort to fight HIV/AIDS”.

This is presenting to my boundless audience ‘sans frontiers’ (meaning ‘without borders’ in French) the project that has taken me far from this lovely blog for the past one month… hold on a minute did I say one, gosh the last post reads Oct. 30. The project is …. Dance4Life.

Well, as you can see from the above words in quote, the project was indeed a success. This marks my first attempt at managing a non-profit project of its magnitude.

I had the distinguished opportunity to work with great people, popular and influential companies, people that I didn’t even think of meeting, men and women I read about in the dailies and see on television. In just these times, I have met with musicians, comedians, television stars just through this one opportunity.

I was introduced into the project through my exceptionally business-conscious and savvy boss (who I intend to do a piece on very soon on this blog). We were to go to Lagos fro a meeting and he just called me and said when we get to the meeting, he would introduce me as the person in charge of the project so that I can continue managing communication with the partner organisation on the project and the international body based in the Netherlands.

The Dance4Life International Team came into the country in July to hold meetings with Reproductive Health based organisation and from there four NGOs based in the project pilot states namely Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Cross River were selected for the project. The project is based on using the power of edutainment to involve young people to be committed to the fight against HIV/AIDS. Young people that join in this fight get rewarded by being able to attend a global dance event on Nov.25 which holds in all the countries where the project is being implemented and they all perform a universal dance called the ‘drill’

A major highlight during the dance event is that all the countries are connected by satellite and the participants at the event in all the countries can see one another especially when doing the drill.

After the meetings with the International Team, we started work on proposals, budgets, activity plans, worksplans et al… However, the project planning phase dragged on and on and didn’t leave paper level despite the fact that the peak period of the project i.e. Nov. 25 was getting closer by the day.

We looked for funders, tossed budgets here and there scaling down (when I wished it was really up) and refining plans every other time. Even at a point, we were close to calling the project off.
Well, to cut the long story short, after four months, the project got to implementation stage. We started with a Train-the-Trainer for groups of young people from the four states and had 2 South Africans to facilitate the training and guess what, one of them, a Choreographer was the choreography director the choreography of the Whoopi Goldberg starred South African film, Sarafina.

Workshops were held in schools for students in the four states and the project peaked on Nov. 25 when we hosted the Dance4Life event in Nigeria.

Courtesy of this project, I have learnt at the feet of two great bosses, Laolu Sasore (my NGO boss) and Remi Ogunpitan, the Managing Director of Storm Vision (are you thinking what I believe you must be thinking….It is the very Storm Vision, producer of Big Brother Nigeria). I have had the opportunity to gist with Obi Asika and laugh at his jokes and meet the major female executive in Storm, Nkiru Asika (very adorable woman).

I also witnessed Ikechukwu go in to wax a record, shook hands with 2shotz, smiled at Sasha, booed at Basketmouth at very close range, befriended Maureen (BBN), had a discussion with Gideon (BBN), received a ‘I’m sorry’ text message from Francisca (BBN) and got familiar with hardworking and highly talented Guinness Book of World Record Holder, Kaffi and her dance group, Zebra.

I have had a splendid time these past days and months having my hands on Dance4Life and any time you need a project coordinator on social causes particularly for young people,…… you have my email ad.