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Monday, January 7, 2013

Day 2: A Promise Kept

So with the day essentially starting in the wee hours of the morning I wasn't exactly sure what to expect and I knew the girls really had no idea.  Yes, they knew this was the day we were going to the village, hopefully find Borges there and meet hundreds of other children.  But, as with some things in life like the birth of a child, a wedding, your first job, etc. you just can't be fully prepared for an experience with words alone.  I was anxious for the day and frankly it started to feel surreal.

As I was coming out of my awful night's sleep I began to notice our air conditioner started to work less effectively and was making a strange noise.  This was followed by a drip-drip-drip sound.  Through my groggy morning eyes I bolted awake as I realized that the air conditioner was leaking water on the bedside table on which I had placed the laptop with which I am writing now.

Actually it was leaking a steady stream of dirty A/C water on my laptop which was on the bedside table.  Lovely! Thankfully my awesome brother had given me a laptop case made by Incase (brilliantly yet sincerely placed promotion here) months earlier and it protected my laptop from what would have been an otherwise complete disaster.  (For the record I was then able to leverage this damage into a $50 discount on the price we paid for our room there.  They weren't too happy with my request but I was happy to introduce them to a higher level of customer service than perhaps they were quite ready for. :-)

Anyway, after we left the Erata Hotel we moved our stuff and the 6 full duffle bags of balls and goodies for the kids to the temple about 20 minutes away--traffic was light since it was early morning.  Once we settled in the girls took a nap while we waited for Eric and Vincent (our driver) to re-pack the car with the 10 cases of soda, 250 small bowls of hot food, 3 duffle bags of balls and goodies.

As we "settled in" to our new dorm room at the temple we discovered that the A/C was really not working AND the toilet wasn't flushing.  We were then given the option of two other rooms nearby to see if they were a bit more ready for their American guests.  One of the rooms had working A/C but no working toilet and the other had no A/C but a toilet with a powerful flush.  So, we debated what was more important: A/C or working toilet.  I pointed out, as the only guy in our party, that working A/C would affect every minute of our time in the room and we really only needed a working toilet maybe 1-3 times a day (albeit for a few precious moments).  I did also point out that there were public restrooms one floor down that could be utilized as needed so we opted for the room with the working A/C.  (Don't tell anyone but being the resourceful, clever dad that I am I noted that a) the room with the working toilet was actually accessible via a connecting door
and b) the place was very much not busy for the weekend since the temple was closed until the following Wednesday.  (The dorms we stayed at are meant for people coming to attend the temple from far away to have affordable and convenient housing so since the temple would be shut down I knew the room would also be quiet.) Soooo, with a strategically placed hanger in the bottom of the doorway leading to the other room we had access to a working toilet during our stay.

As that got settled we then hopped (more like crammed) into the car for our journey East out of Accra to the village previously known as Never's village. Never is the name of the boy who was once a trafficked child and was featured on an Oprah show exposing the dangers and realities of the life of the "fishing children."  Our host, Eric, facilitated Never's release and he has become a bit of a celebrity.  However, for us I think we will always think of this village as Borges's village since he really is the inspiration behind Save-A-Thon For Africa.

Due to some of the worst traffic I have ever seen the journey was about 3.5 hours there.  We sat cramped in the car that long time with bags of food or soccer balls in our laps.  I have to admit that the anticipation and great sights of Ghana made the trip go by fairly quickly and all of a sudden: there we were.

You can sort of tell by the look on the girls' faces that they were a bit hesitant in this sea of humanity and the associated sights, smells and sounds.  But they did about the only thing we could do: dive in and get to work!
I think the girls were thinking: Umm, where do we start?
Shockingly we had a nice young man very willing to help my girls. ;-)
As we started to organize the chaos--or try to at least--all three of us scanned the crowd of 300 people or so looking for the boy who catalyzed this whole effort: Borges!  Kylie said multiple times on the trip over, "I really hope Borges is there.  I hope we can find him!"  Truth be told there was no guarantee he would be there.  As we learned last March kids are trafficked into the fishing industry, or worse, more often than you might think, and the line between dead and alive in Africa is always thin so you just never know what might happen over the course of nine months in these villages.  Plus, nobody but the girls and I even knew his name and that he was the one who inspired us to do this.

So, imagine our relief and happiness when we spotted Borges toward the back of the crowd and his beautiful smile welcomed us.  His smile grew even more when Kylie asked him. "Do you know why we are here.?"  He answered with that same humble voice that asked me for a ball nine months earlier: "Me?!!"  Yes, Borges, we were there for you!  But given all of the food, balls, and gifts we brought 9,000 miles we thought we would share with 250 of your closest friends in the village.  He was proud and very happy with that.

More details on our visit to Borges' village in the next post.

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