• Benjamin Watts

IMARA Gala 2020: Behind the Scenes

Around 8,000 miles separate the IMARA village in Kenya from the United States. On November 8th, the IMARA family from around the world bridged these many miles, and gathered as one to celebrate the 9th Annual Gala event. Unlike any before it, this gathering took place behind computer screens due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but this new platform provided for a fantastic night to showcase the work that is being done all around the world at IMARA.

Work to bring together the Gala began several months ago in order to provide the program that so many tuned in to view. Although a portion of the event was recorded in the U.S professionally, the other portion was filmed on the ground in the IMARA village. Both teams in Kenya and the U.S came together to show the world the message of IMARA mom’s, staff, and Executive Director Carol Erickson. The IMARA girls in Kenya were very enthusiastic and involved in the Gala program through and through. The girl’s helped to create social media teasers to promote the gala, receiving more views than anything ever put on IMARA social media. U.S Board of Directors member Sue Badeau helped the IMARA mom’s prepare their messages they wanted to give at the event saying, “ I had about 3 practice zoom sessions with the girls and Carol and Daisy and Beatrice. I watched their presentations, gave them some tips and feedback to go practice again, and then watched again.” During the Gala, viewers may remember Director of Operations, Daisy Otieno, reading a letter written by one of the original IMARA mom’s, Angelina. At first glance, the execution of this reading may have seemed simple, but behind the scenes, this “simple” read through had to be shot 18 times before it was just right! As people viewing the Gala in the United States hopped on their devices for the program in the evening, the IMARA house in Kenya was filled with excited viewers at 3:00 A.M to view the Gala that they had worked so hard to create. Diligent teamwork and preparation was needed, but the program that it produced at the Gala was a tremendous one.

All in all, the best words to describe the behind the scenes action of the IMARA gala are “teamwork” and “grassroots”. Around 65 professionals and members of both the U.S and Kenya IMARA community worked many hours to bring what was a 30 minute message from IMARA to the world. Although the Gala looked a little different this year, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Peter Thorp, is optimistic about the future, saying, “I’m so excited for next year’s Gala and pray that it will be possible to have an in person event. Whether that is possible or not, we are committed to have a virtual component allowing IMARA supporters to participate from anywhere in the world!” To say the least, the 2020 IMARA Gala was a resounding success. IMARA mom’s, kids, staff, those in Kenya, those in the U.S, and everyone involved allows one to see that the Gala put on full display that IMARA is one big family, working together.

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