If the quest for survival wasn’t a factor, I’d most likely be a classroom teacher in a public primary school or traveling around the world on behalf of an NGO to deliver on projects geared towards helping mankind. I’m almost sure you have professions/careers you’ve got natural love for but had to settle for something else due to reason(s) best known to you. Such is life.
You see, working on this project gave me more fulfillment than I can verbally or legibly describe because it’s more like the ideal case of eating one’s cake and having it as I began to see reasons why I can still live that life I wanted if the right plans are put in place.
What is The Sahara Centre and this Grant about?
The Sahara Centre is an organization whose goal is to develop systems that seek to help in creating a society that can sustainably meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Please read this paragraph again.
Hence, this grant was created to support agents within the Cultural, Creative, and Tourism Sectors in creating content/projects that can interpret the realities surrounding the situation of the COVID19 Pandemic.
How did I know about the opportunity?
It was 3:44 am that morning when My phone beeped. On checking it to know who it was, I saw it was an IG message from Fadilla- a lady (like most of my followers) I’ve never met but have a good virtual relationship with. I’m sure you have a few people like that too.
She forwarded a post by the Travel massive community to me, and I’m sure it was with the conviction that she wanted me to give it a try.
At first, I was a bit pessimistic about my chances (because I’ve spent some quality times in the past applying for a bunch of opportunities that ended in hot tears) but I decided to shoot the shot again that morning because, why not?! … Las las, it would end in another set of premium tears (which I’m now used to).
Research has even found that in addition to being self-soothing, shedding emotional tears releases oxytocin and endorphins. These chemicals make people feel good and may also ease both physical and emotional pain. In this way, crying can help reduce pain and promote a sense of well-being.
The Application process
As always, I did my background checks on the organization to establish what they stand for and also verify if our goals align. Being satisfied with what I found, I proceeded to LinkedIn to check the work history of as many employees as possible before finally checking on their previously executed projects. Yes, I needed to know.
1st round of Application
With the investigation done, I proceeded to the first stage of screening where I was drilled with a lot of questions (via a virtual form) concerning my intentions, and why I had chosen the project category I settled for.
Now, it will help that you know that this grant was split into 3 parts for applicants to choose from:
- Relief Assistance:
This category is for travel practitioners who just need funds to cater for basic essentials to sustain themselves during the COVID19 pandemic.
- Project support (during COVID)
This category is to support a practitioner who would like to work on a project which can directly interpret the realities of the situation of the COVID19 pandemic.
- Project support (post-COVID)
This category is for practitioners who need the grant to work on projects relating to what the tourism industry would look like after the COVID19 pandemic.
I went with the second category since I was more interested in working on a project focused on how COVID19 is directly affecting everyday people.
Getting the first response
You know those applications you submit and just forget about them after waiting longer than the projected period? That was the case with mine until I got a mail by 7:30 pm on the 4th of May, 2020. I was excited because the selection committee liked my idea! And just when I thought that was all about it, the concluding part of the mail requested that I send in a 1-2 paged proposal detailing how I hope to execute the project.
“Haha, proposal bawo? Shebi they said they liked it already ni?”
This mail was sent on a Monday but I didn’t open my mail until Tuesday, and the deadline for submission was by close of business on Wednesday, so I set to work immediately and didn’t finish until around 7 pm on Wednesday. Yes, I didn’t meet the deadline because I needed to ensure my best foot is at the front.
Then Came second Response
It was all crickets in my email since the 4th of May. If the number of times I refreshed my mailbox amounted to how fresh I’d look, then Denola Grey will be interning with me.
A response finally came 10 days later on the 14th of May after I got tired of refreshing. It was a congratulatory mail informing me that my proposal has been selected from the shortlisted 150.
An agreement accompanied the mail. I downloaded, signed, and sent it back within the stipulated period so that my grant can be processed. Nothing happened until my phone beeped on the 1st of June with a credit message from my bank while playing with my phone in the toilet.
This marked the beginning of the project properly.
Since the agreed period for commencement and execution was 2 weeks, I had to draw up a feasible plan which will avail me enough time to make the best use of each day of the project until completion.
Here is a video documenting the highlight of this project.
Major lessons learned
- You need people. Nobody is ‘self-made’. Working on your habits and relationships will take you far.
2. Be prepared for opportunities always
During the first screening process, I was asked to put forward any prior project I’ve done in the past that is convincing enough to warrant being awarded the grant and guess what I uploaded? The research work I did on The perception of the Nigerian Youth about Tourism!
3. It’s rewarding to live a life of purpose
I felt an unusual sense of fulfillment after delivering on the project. The chill I got was another validation that on my death bed, I won’t regret not helping mankind.