As my alarm was going off at 4:30 AM on Sunday, I was sitting up in my bed and thought to myself “This better be worth it!”. Getting up early has never been my strong suit, especially on a Sunday. But although I knew it would be long and draining day I was excited at the same time, because it was the day of my first fundraising event with Happy Hearts Indonesia. Only one week ago I had started my internship and joined the Happy Hearts Team in Jakarta and now I was already flying to Singapore to take part in one of our biggest events of the year and to meet not only some of our board members, but also our ambassadors and our founder herself, Petra Nemcova.
Fast forward a couple of hours and I am squeezed into the back of a car, boxes, frames and banners everywhere. Lucky for me it was a short 20 minute drive from Changi airport to the event’s venue in the Gotham Building. A building I remembered from previous visits to the city, not only because of its name, but also as “the most beautiful tower in Singapore”. I had seen pictures of the inside before, but as I walked into the Atlas Bar, I was blown away by the beautiful interior and the fascinating details all over the walls and the ceiling. The perfect setting for a nice cocktail event and the 5th year anniversary celebration!
We quickly unloaded all the boxes from the car, took another look at the breathtaking venue and headed back to our hotel to get ready and rest for a while.
Back at the Atlas Bar, the real work began. Banners and easels had to be set up, merchandise displayed, frames needed to be placed and guest lists prepared. One of my tasks for the evening would be to make sure all the visual support, like pictures and videos as well as lighting and music, was timed perfectly. I made my way up to the balcony to meet with our tech guy and we went through the rundown, checked the files and did a soundcheck. The screen hanging above the Bar was huge and I started to get more and more nervous. “What if something goes wrong? What if I miss my cue?” So we went through the rundown again. And again. Everything seemed to work just fine and I relaxed.
Afterwards I headed back down to the entry to meet my colleagues at the reception. Our helpful volunteers had already been briefed and they later would usher our guests to their tables. I positioned myself next to our merchandise booth and waited for the first people to arrive. Some of our board members were already there and I got introduced to Danny Sin and John Andrews. Soon more and more people were strolling in, hands were being shaken, kisses and hugs exchanged and pictures taken. I struggled to remember who was who and how they were all involved but it was impossible to keep up. Next to the Photo Wall I spotted some familiar faces, our beautiful ambassador Nameera Azman and the host of the evening and also an ambassador of ours, Paul Foster. Both were looking stunning, Paul in a classic black tuxedo and Nameera in a black dress and kimono. And suddenly the founder of the Happy Hearts Fund and special guest of the night, Petra Nemcova, arrived. While she was greeting everyone in the entry area and taking pictures next to the reception, people inside were busy mingling and enjoying the cocktails and canapés that were being served.
About 20 minutes later it was time for me to leave the merchandise booth and go back up to the balcony as the reception was about to start. Paul welcomed the guests, thanked our generous sponsors and went on to talk about his personal involvement with Happy Hearts. He introduced Danny Sin and handed over the mic for him to give his speech. I rolled the slideshow of Danny’s pictures during his visits to several project sites and sat back and relaxed for a minute. So far everything was going according to plan and it promised to be a wonderful evening and a successful event.
Next Petra came up on stage to give a little speech herself. She talked about her own inspiring journey and experiences and I truly could feel the love and passion that she had for the children in her voice.
As the evening was not only about celebrating 5 years of Happy Hearts Indonesia and all the achievements so far, but also kicking off the amazing and ambitious new campaign for the next 5 years, Paul introduced the official campaign video. The video shows beautiful area shots from Sumba in NTT and as I watched it on the small laptop screen in front me, I couldn’t help smiling. Two hundred schools are about to be rebuilt in only 5 years and knowing that I will in some way contribute to this, even if just for a limited time, makes me really happy and proud!
Following the video, Sylvia talked more in depth about the campaign goals and the targeted area of Nusa Tenggara Timur. She invited Yvonne Siow from WorldVentures Foundation on stage and presented her with a token of appreciation. WorldVentures Foundation has made a jaw-dropping commitment to fund the rebuilding of 100 schools on the island of Sumba. When I first learned this last week I was completely speechless and overwhelmed. Hearing Yvonne’s passionate words and her appeal to everyone to get involved and to help realize the vision and goals Happy Hearts set to empower and educate children as our biggest and most valuable resource was truly inspiring!
In the following break I happily tried the delicious food to stay focused during the upcoming auction. First up was a voucher from Alila Seminyak and the first bids were starting to come in. Next up were two travel sets provided by Tumi that were customized by Indonesian artists Indiguerillas and Wedhar Riyadi. And finally Petra showed around the two luxurious Chopard watches, the highlight of the auction. Lastly Paul announced the winners of the lucky draw and handed over the prizes, Sing Jazz Tickets and an Artemis voucher. I took a deep, calming breath. Everything had worked out the way we had planned.
As the official part of the evening was almost over, I put up the last visual and headed back down to watch Paul announced the total amount of funds raised. The final count was unbelievable. We raised an incredible US $175,000, the equivalent of 7 schools in NTT. This exceeded everybody’s expectations!
While Paul gave his closing speech and thanked everybody I assisted some of the guests taking pictures at the Photo Wall. We slowly started packing the merchandise and said goodbye to everybody leaving. By now the whole team was exhausted but we were not finished just yet. We took the banners and frames down, re-wrapped and boxed them and finally put everything into a taxi.
When I finally arrived back at our hotel my feet were aching, my body was screaming for rest and my alarm was already set for the next morning to fly back to Jakarta for our next event. It had been a long, exhausting day but overall it was such a humbling, amazing and invaluable experience. Seeing all these amazing people from different backgrounds coming together to celebrate Happy Hearts Indonesia’s achievements and enabling the success of its upcoming campaign was astonishing and I couldn’t have imagined a better and more exciting way to start my time with Happy Hearts Indonesia. And it definitely was worth getting up at 4:30am on a Sunday!