Published: July 1st 2012June 30th 2012
So, you want to know just how tired I am? Well, we uploaded the photos for today's blog....yesterday. Too funny.......I had a sense of that last night (at midnight) when I put the photos into DropBox for my team .......not their fault - totally mine, LOL! EDIT: It is fixed now.
Anyway, yesterday (Friday) was our last full day in Victoria Falls- and a successful and emotional one it was, indeed! We were up and over to the church first thing again - to meet with the women entrepreneurs. I will admit that we were very curious and somewhat anxious to see who, and how many, would return for Day 2 of our training/mentoring. Well, lo and behold, they were ALL there - ready, willing and waiting! I loved it! The energy and enthusiasm for more learning was 'over the roof'! Very exciting for all of us.
We got right to work - because today was all about strategy and action plans. We wanted to ensure these women were equipped with the knowledge and steps to take, and the empowerment, to take their businesses to the next level. And you know what? Their top 2 challenges are EXACTLY the
same as that of my clients - and those of my colleagues! Seriously - to get more clients and make more money. You see - we are more alike than different -whether in Canada, the U.S. or.......Zimbabwe! So exciting and so interesting.
We facilitated group sessions and let the women identify their own group leader, their priorities, and the steps they would take to make things happen. I loved, loved, loved watching their serious faces as they took notes of everything that was discussed - and since we were working outside under a tree, the 'flipchart stand' was the ground! We laid the pages of notes out and they gathered around to make sure they didn't miss a thing! No Hilton Hotel (air-conditioned) meeting room here!!!! - just a ton of enthusiasm and strong desire for learning. The focus was intense - the joy was real - and the synergy and friendships that developed were real.
We surprised the women by bringing bags of food (similar to grits) for each women to take home to feed their family. Oh my goodness - my words do not do justice to the emotions that were felt and expressed - tears
flowed, the women danced and cheered and sang......and so did we. Then we had that same experience as THEY so graciously brought a gift for each one of us. This is women helping women at its best!!!!!! Moms supporting Moms - women entrepreneurs supporting women entrepreneurs. Lives being changed. We share burgers and fries for lunch, laughed some more - and committed to a long-term relationship. We didn't want them to think that, at the end of lunch, we were heading off and leaving them to figure it out by themselves. They are smart women - capable women - but, like any of us in business, we all need partnerships, support, guidance and encouragement. We assured them that we would be back in 6 months.
I love the photos of them gathering their notes, their bag of food - and heading down the road. So moving!!!! (go back to yesterday's blog to see the photos, ok?) - and, otherwise go to my business page on Facebook to see the full photo album, along with my personal comments on each - http://www.facebook.com/steps2happiness
After we returned to our hotel, we split up as we all had different plans for the
afternoon. Suzanne and some of her team committed to going to the shops to get some of the basic elements that the women shared they needed - paint, lightbulbs, toilet systems, celing fans, etc. - things we take for granted that make the basic day to day living comfortable. They had NO lights in their shops - and it was dark in there! That's just not right! So we committed to helping them get started with that - we got the items - they would do the work (painting the exterior shop walls, etc.) - their action plan boiled down to 3 top items - Meetings (starting with their first collaborative meeting this coming Monday at 2 p.m., outside between the 2 shops!), Marketing (helping them with the basics like having flyers and posters to distribute at hotels, and around town) and Motion (putting things into action - with accountability - names, dates, etc.) - NO DIFFERENT than what it takes for US to grow our business.
I headed out for an elephant excursion with some of my colleagues. What a hoot! Totally different experience than what I had in Cambodia - the photos will show you what it
was like. I loved it- so peaceful, quiet, enjoyable and, since we were riding in 2's, I had the time to chat with my colleague, Kate. It was fabulous. We also enjoyed a beer and snacks under the tent (and check out the TV system they had there! Unbelievable resources in the most unexpected of places!) - I bought the DVD of our excursion - stay tuned - I'll be sharing it in the near future. It was fabulous!
And then, back to the hotel for what I describe to be one of THE best 'edu-tainment' experiences of the trip (for me!) - Suzanne and Melonie arranged for us to be hosted for dinner at the home of one of the ladies they have come to know. I love that! Flatter (is her name) so graciously showed us through her home, and let us right into the kitchen to see what she was cooking, how she was cooking it - and how to eat it (with our fingers!) Those of you who know me realize that I was in my element. Fascinating!!!! And.......I ate caterpillars!!!! Who knew - chewy, crunchy (and no fuzzy feeling as it went down my
throat, LOL - THAT was my greatest fear! I thought for a moment, when I heard the menu, that we were on an episode of Survivor, LOL!) - a lot of the meal is made with corn and peanut butter - and we had beef stew, chicken, kale, ........and for dessert, avocado, tomato and bananas.......tea and cookies. She was an amazing hostess..........and I just couldn't get enough time with her to learn all that I wanted to know about her life, her culture, her family. Such a great evening. Thank you, Suzanne and Melonie!!! (http://www.suzanneevans.org)
Time to get back to the hotel - some of us joined together on the terrace for a night cap. Talk about customer service - the place was closed up but there was one employee left in the bar area - and he so kindly unlocked the wine cooler for us, brought out the glasses - and we were able to join, for one last time, to chat, sip wine and share our experiences of the week. We were all deeply touched - more on that later.
And then it was back to my room - and that's where I made a BIG
mistake - I started looking at my photos of the week and really got caught up in that! Realized it was way past midnight while I was still doing that! I also had a sneaking suspicion that I HAD uploaded the wrong photos for my team to add to the blog and when I saw the link/post today, realized that I was right on that! I apologize to all of you.
It has been a long, exciting, challenging, adventuresome, life-changing, inspiring week - and yes, I am tired. I will admit it - although the rooms/beds/pillows at the Victoria Falls Hotel were amazing!!!!!
And now it is time to return home - will write more tomorrow or the next day - I am writing this particular blog from the Johannesburg airport - and will add the photos later. It's been a blast having you with us - please leave your comments - we would love to hear your thoughts on this adventure.
To my team, Cheryl and Jade, thank you so much for your support with this blog this past week. I couldn't have done it without you! I appreciate you.
More later.......much love....
There are more photos below