Work as service: All in a (market) day’s work.

5 min readFeb 22, 2022

7:00am: The pop up stalls are already buzzing as market merchants are busy putting out their wares on display. They’re nailing it! What to some may look like a laborious task has become part of a daily set up routine. It is how the market comes alive. Clearly, most of these stall owners are not novices, as they’ve got their set up rhythm down to the tee. The section with the African Kitenge fabric is the first to light up. Followed by the impressive row of newly sewn school uniforms. You cannot miss to notice the cool aisle beaming with all sorts of reflector sporting gear. From the corner of my eye, I manage to catch a glimpse at the hairdressers’ stalls getting decked up, even the chicken merchants by the market entrance have their chicken coops all dolled up! Well, let’s just say, the stalls are looking real impressive and with just a few more final touches, everything looks spick and span in preparation for the day’s shopping activities. I love that it is mango season and the fruit merchants have out done themselves with quite the spread of mango toppings lined up, to give the juicy fruit a nice savory flavor. Then, you cannot miss but notice the row of neatly, individually wrapped, watermelon slices looks so inviting! Since I’m not one to miss out on the biggest display of stall opener fruit selections, I venture on to gather up my stash!

7:30am: Now that we’ve managed to load up on all sorts of tasty vitamins, we gear up for our first batch of curbside CPR students. Just as we are about to huddle up to discuss the plan for the day, out in the distance, we hear: “vroom! vroom!”. We quickly assume it’s one of the kids playing car on their way to school and quickly get back to game planning. However the car roar’s gotten considerably louder and more animated “vrooooom! vroooooom!” sounds more like a 16 wheeler in full throttle. Clearly, this kid’s now got out attention, as we turn to see the lad with the the impressive pipes, we spot the local talent, who seems clearly set on a career doing cool truck voiceovers. Turns out he’s a regular at the market for sure enough…as soon, he’s got our captive audience, he’s ready to takes this show up a notch and proceeds to engage the 16 wheeler voiceover truck to a full blown monster hot wheel jam fest production. Looks like we’re in for a treat. Over the couple weeks, there’s never been a dull moment in these markets. Today promises to keep things on the lively streak!

8:00am: The first Curbside CPR session for the day kicks off with a good mix of merchants and market patrons, a dozen in total. We break ice, throw in some humor to get everyone comfortable and proceed with some basic first aid tidbits. Halfway into the lesson, it becomes clear that our mannequins have acquired some real interesting names and now everyone’s eyes are on “Little Kababa”, the infant mannequin in the light blue onesie. As the Curbside CPR instructor points out the scenario that’s got Kababa distraught (choking on his porridge). The group engages with the scenario, an older woman -likely in her early 60s, says it’s happened to one of her grand kids and then proceeds to administer 5 chest thrusts followed by 5 back slaps in a carefully executed precision that mirrors what the instructor has just demonstrated. She gets the group rallied up, a few “atta boy” later, Kababa seems okay. The intervention worked! A few fist bumps are exchanged to celebrate her impeccable skills mastery. The group then runs through a couple more scenarios and our first cohort of the day, seems ready to take on an Emergency Department!

12:00pm: We’ve conducted a good number of Curbside CPR sessions and sent a good number of them home with the smart first aid app installed on their phon. Like a kid in a toy store, there’s all excitement that comes with a nifty tool that’s going to fill up your commute/down time with meaningful first aid refresher courses. We’ve also managed to score some brownie points by offering up real basic tech support pointers.

1:00pm: A group of kids from the neighboring school quickly flocks into the market, and a sea of kids in pink uniform fills the Curbside CPRt tent. Impressive is their quest for lifesaving first aid skills…so much so that they’re skipping lunch to take the Curbside CPR class! The fun class wraps up with a round of really well thought out questions and answers. There’s the sound of a bell ringing at a distance and just as quickly as these kids had flocked in, is their exit as they head back to school.

3:00pm: Word’s managed to go around the market about the action happening at the main parking lot. Merchants have even devised a plan to keep watch over their stalls while they attend the Curbside CPR training. Taking turns allows most of them to participate while a few stay behind watching the stalls. They work in10 minute blocks of time so that everyone gets a chance to participate! We’re just about to wrap up for the day, when we hear the sounds of sirens out in the horizon. From our vantage point, we have a clear line of sight to clouds of smoke billowing from a nearby housing complex. We can see there’s an ambulance and fire truck meandering their way to the housing complex where the smoke seems to be coming from. Since we’ve got a good mix of medics on the team, they are naturally itching to jump in to help but the fire is quite a ways off and the first responder crew is quickly containing the fire.

6:00pm..we are all packed up…mannequins stowed away…training gear cleaned and sanitized…bags of trash tied up. We know to take our trash with us as we’ve become aware of the garbage disposal challenges in most of these markets. As we head out, I manage to catch one last glimpse into the eyes of the traders and market patrons and can sense their gratitude. While these traders and patrons are pumping a tremendous amount into our national economy, we’ve made sure they don’t loose sight on the importance of good health and life saving first aid skills. As we pull off, the story of the Good Samaritan somes to mind. When he encountered a man who had been badly beaten and left lying on the roadside, he had quickly roll up his sleeves and cared for the man. I’m hopeful that those newly trained will put their skills to action when faced with a similar situation. The cherry on the top of today’s activities is all about imparting life saving skills with minimal disruption to a (market) day’s work!