Buck and I like to set ourselves challenges. On the back of a 30 days of no alcohol challenge (which I am happy to report we successfully completed) after a few cold ones the Chasing Smiles Challenge was born. Feeling rather relaxed and quite ambitious thanks to the beers, we got talking. “Why is social media so anti-social? Why aren’t there more stories of hope and happiness on my timeline? Why don’t we change this?”. Hands were shaken, promises were made and as the next morning marked the first day of April the task began.
The endeavour required us to find, photograph, interview and upload 30 instances of people or organisations doing something positive in Harare each day in April. It began rather slowly and after about day 4, I began to worry that we would not be able to find a sufficient number of positive instances to post. We did at one stage contemplate honourably ducking out and ‘passing the challenge on’. However, pride prevailed (we had made it Facebook official after all) and I am happy to announce the chasing smiles challenge gathered momentum in such a way that we still have a few posts to come!
Buck and I met people and went to places in Harare that we never would have, had it not been for the Chasing Smiles Challenge. By stepping out of our regular rhythms and usual haunts, reaching out to strangers and by asking questions about their lives with genuine interest, we have been privy to intimate struggles and truths and perhaps the biggest gift of all, we have created new relationships.
Each day, someone gave up a chunk of their time for us and each day we continued to be inspired by this generosity of spirit. The people we spoke to were often extremely busy, usually meeting us during work hours but willingly gave us their time. The wise and incredibly generous Garth Thompson gave up almost two hours to talk to us over numerous cups of tea. The Smart Girls and Rebekah Marks drove all the way across town to tell us their stories of bravery and determination. I think this is another secret to positivity – the people we met all invested in people and their currency – social currency – is rich and far reaching.
Positivity is a choice and it is something that we have to practice with dedication and discipline. Nellie English is an example of this: when asked how on earth she was going to manage the 724km run her reply was uncomplicated – by putting one foot in front of the other until she reached the end. Passion was another dominating theme clearly present in the people we met – Julia Pierini comes instantly to mind as a person brimming with passion and purpose.
Throughout the last month, we’ve learnt anyone and everyone can make an impact – positive or otherwise – simply by deciding to do so. The ability to affect the world around you is within each of us and something that each of us can easily do. It became clear as the month wore on that the individuals and groups we featured were just like you and I; however, what makes them stand apart is their passionate commitment to the decisions they have made. Gilbert Makanha, the Buddie Saleman on Collage Road, Harare is a fantastic case in point. Gilbert decided to make light of his situation and simply smile. In doing so, he has touched millions of lives – the post in which he featured has reached 42, 098 people!
Bad Rabbit would like to thank all those that participated in the challenge – whether it was as a featured person or organisation, by nominating, by liking and sharing, or by simply reading and (hopefully) smiling. We have all contributed to generating positivity in Zimbabwe. Like a ripple created in water, the reach of your positivity will continue to extend to those around you and beyond you.
To end off, I leave you with the well known Native American Parable in encouragement that positivity is a choice and one that is within your capability.
One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson
about a battle that goes on inside people.
He said, “My son, the battle is between
two “wolves” inside us all.
One is Evil.
It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed,
arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies,
false pride, superiority, and ego.
The other is Good.
It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute
and then asked his grandfather:
“Which wolf wins?”
The old Cherokee simply replied,
“The one you feed.”