Day 268: The OneMatchstick Girl

The onematchstick girl

I stayed in Haenertsburg with the Millers for four days, before getting a lift to Johannesburg. Yet again, I spent a few nights on my brother’s couch catching up on my notes. It was awesome to spend time with him, even though he served me crocodile meat the one night! I also had a chance to catch up with old friends before going off and making new ones.

When I had been walking on the gravel road to Skuitbaai more than eight months earlier, I suddenly became aware of another sound. At first it harmonised with the insect noises, then seemed increasingly out of place. Familiar and alien at once, it took me a while to realise that my cellphone was ringing. ‘Is that the uBuntu Girl? My name is Adin. I’m the No Money Guy and I am sitting here with Telana, the OneMatchstick Girl.’ I knew immediately that this conversation was the beginning of something, though I had no idea at the time what that might be . . .

The keypad at the gate has three buttons. I do as the sticker advises and press all three. The gate opens. Garden spills onto driveway. I follow a staircase down to a door that swings open just as I reach the last step. In the doorway stands Telana, the OneMatchstick Girl, who seems to radiate the same buzzing excitement as I do. Her eyes have an amazing depth and shade of blue. I had no idea that determination could come in such a compact shape.

I am not sure what she sees staring back at her – a hat, a backpack, a camera bag, a person somewhere amid all that. A kindred soul. We laugh. It is a great way for the body to respond to nerves.

Telana says that she’s been following my journey blog a little and she is always happy to meet someoney else who thinks that anything is possible. I have almost no idea about her OneMatchstick project, because I have no Internet access. We decide that a cup of tea is needed so that I can bombard her with my questions.

Telana’s project is all about pushing the bar of the possible. She started it in June 2006 by putting up one match to trade for something. Anything. Her aim is to keep bartering items of increasing value until she reaches her goal: offices from which to run her coaching and training business. When she gets there she will contribute some of the space to start-up entrepreneurial enterprises and thus help bring someone else’s business dream to life.

The idea was inspired by Kyle MacDonald, the Canadian who started with a red paperclip and, in a year-long series of online transactions, traded until he had a house. Telana says that the best part of her project are the people she meets. She finds it exciting to hear from strangers who have found her blog and she has made many new friends.

She tells me to stay as long as I want. There is a mattress that fits perfectly into the walk-in closet attached to her room, which is at the highest of the sixteen levels in this unconventional house. While I unpack I hear Dexter, the aged parrot, rant and rave from one of the levels below as a delicious aroma drifts up from somewhere in the centre of all the sounds, where Telana’s mother, Adele, is cooking us a stew.

Telana and I had much in common and we began calling ourselves the Possibility Bar Pushers. We are proud of the fact that we belong to a growing community of change agents.