Have you ever found yourself in the front seat of a roller coaster going up a steep hill with a sensation of fear and wondering to yourself ‘Why on earth did I decide to do this’?  This is how I was feeling the closer I got to the launching of the Bow Tie Challenge on January 1st. I began to have doubts about how I would be able to carry off the Challenge!  Many questions swirled in my mind:

  1. Am I crazy for doing this?
  2. Will I get tired of wearing a bow tie every day and get bored with the Challenge?
  3. How do I creatively post on social media to get my message out and encourage people to care enough to donate to my cause?
  4. What if The Bow Tie Challenge is a complete failure and nobody donates?

It was a bit of mad rush trying to get ready for the launch, trying to figure how to work the new camera that I had bought for the challenge, buying a tripod and white backdrop to use to take photos and deciding where in my house would be the best place to take the photos.  But on January 1st I took my first photo and posted on Instagram and this set in motion a year of bow ties for education.

In the first weeks, there was a steep learning curve trying to get systems in place and figure out the logistics of using social media to promote The Bow Tie Challenge.  I had to decide on the best format that I would use to post updates; the time of day that I would take the photos and where to take these photos; how to reach the widest audience; and how to add creativity to the photos to sustain interest over the long term.  And, on top of these concerns, the fundraising app that I had chosen was difficult for people to maneuver and so I decided to change to another app that was more intuitive.

Despite my questions, more and more people began to follow and like the pictures on The Bow Tie Challenge Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook feeds.  And each day my spirits were lifted when someone made a donation or I would get a message of encouragement from a friend or family member, or even a stranger!

As the month came to an end, I had a couple of media inquiries – and did two radio interviews, one of which was one of the biggest stations in Johannesburg. Newspaper coverage followed and this made me feel hopeful.  The media coverage was encouraging and it helped to generate interest, but this didn’t seem to have much of an impact on people donating and so I am still trying to figure out how to get people to donate.

A highlight of the past month has been visiting a school that is supported by Afrika Tikkun and having 30 elementary and middle school kids decked out in colorful paper bow ties and singing for me!  It was a moving experience and one I will never forget.  It reminded of the reason why I decided to start the bow tie challenge.

People would ask me if the Bow Tie Challenge was becoming tedious and if I was getting tired of wearing a bow tie every day and my answer is, ‘No’!  Although this may change but when I put on a new bow tie to wear for the day, I feel the same joy and excitement that I did as a little kid when my parents bought me new clothes to wear for Christmas or Easter.

This is just the beginning and there are eleven months to go to make an impact. I feel absolutely 100% positive that the challenge will be a success.  Now that January is almost nearing an end, and having gone up the first hill of the rollercoaster, I’ve built up a reserve of energy to continue the ride into February and I am excited at the prospect of tackling educational inequalities one bow tie at a time!

 

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