A recent post copied (with permission) from the blog by Joe Sesil, who joined our July 2012 team.
You can see the entire post as well as learn more about Joe’s world-wide water tour at the following page: JOE’S BLOG PAGE
I am pleased to say that I made it safely to my fifth Continent, 2nd new one on these travels, and my 35th overall Country (paling in comparison to some of you I see in FB), 17th new one with arriving in Accra, Ghana – Africa this past week. – Very excited to be here and the adventures ahead and the ones that have already happened.
My primary focus of this leg of my travels has been to work on the well project introduced to me initially by my friend Schmidty, who mentioned to his mailman, Emmanuel, affectionately known as Baba (Father in his native tongue) that I was traveling doing water projects, which Emmanuel immediately response was “we need to talk”. Which we did and later met, here in Country. I now can say so much more about Emmanuel and the project and the organization he founded, and I can now also proudly call Emmanuel a friend of mine own, developing a friendship here in Ghana while working on the well project and other happenings… which brings me to this story, of my first week in Ghana – Africa!
After Schmidty’s intro, I corresponded with Emmanuel and was also connected with two other Joe’s (Agro and Lambert) from the group Adopt One Village (AOV). Which at the time, and for sometime after, I was not aware AOV was a non-profit that Emmanuel had started himself to support his home Village. I thought by the name and a quick look at the website, that it was a very large organizations that worked with different churches and groups to team them with different villages; to adopt those ones in need…. – kind of cool idea and maybe it will be that in the future, but for now, I knew I was on to something; a focused, hard-working, grass root group with a single goal to make the lives of the 800 or so people living in this remote community of Yaw Tenkorang better. – Exactly the type of group I want to work with and exactly the type of group that I have seen put out and give so much more than they ever receive!! – Truly, this is what I have seen to be the best model to help those in need, that works… – no red tape or bureaucracy, – just meaningful results, by people who care, for the actions done and given donations. Yes, this is a group I wanted to work with.
Adopt One Village Website: www.adoptonevillage.org
It of course even got better… – In addition to Emmanuel (and the team of Joes), came about 10 other members of AOV and another 10 kids from the TLCC youth group in West Orange, NJ and support group back in the States. – People obviously make missions a success and a benefit – joining as a group to learn and to contribute and to make the world a better place. This traveling group of 24 in total, with the addition of the in Country team, was a team with a mission and a goal and a great personality and disposition to go with it!
I want to give you a quick story, or maybe two, that I think shows what a solid, positive crew this group is. Oddly enough neither of the stories are actually about the work they were doing in the village; all of that went on like clock work. Good supervision and good planning and good spirits made the painting and cleaning projects go without a hitch. Also all the educational programs and medical care of hundreds be administered with professionalism, care and love. The meeting of the high school students they sponsor from the village and the distribution of clothing and care packages at the orphanage, all were seamless as well. No, my story is about the extra stuff outside the focused goal. The thing this crew had to go through, while making this project a success, 5,000 miles from home in a foreign County and Continent. The bureaucracy and headaches that get handled behind the scenes by the leaders to be able to allow the other things – the critical things, all happen so smoothly, that is what this story is about.
My first story is about transportation. The crew started the trip with a two-day delay added on the back-end of the trip when a snafu in scheduling actually booked the team to come back on Monday rather than the planned Saturday. The team dealt with this by being able to stop and spend part of the day at an orphanage of a couple hundred kids and a chance to learn a little culture and history of the country by visiting very emotional and impactful place called Elmina. This old castle town on the Atlantic Ocean was the place of 400 hundred years of slave trading and one of 33 similar castles used in the trans atlantic shipping of slaves to the Americas – They told us, that sadly one in three of the people brought here, our brothers and sisters, taken into slavery, would survive the conditions in the dungeon caves of the castle, while the governors sat up stairs living large. Saying the conditions were appalling, would not give it even a small inkling of how bad it really was. – Just knowing the fact that if you survived the months in captivity in the “hole” meant you got a 45 day journey over rough seas to be sold into slavery, would kill a lot of people in thought alone. I guess knowing these facts may have helped the team somewhat when Delta canceled their already two day extended flight back home. The crew took it all in stride and the leadership went into motion. Knowing there where a dozen sets of parents and families and team members spouses waiting at home to see their loved ones.
Monday, the scheduled day of departure, started with the 10 AM email saying the 10 pm flight was delayed and later canceled, putting into motion a 12 hour Hercules effort to reschedule flights, visits to the US Embassy, confirm flights and get the team packed and back to the airport, ready to fly… – fly on three different flights – but with the plan to get everyone home the next day – maybe 12 hours late for some – but home. – All seemed positive, right up to checking everyone in and finding out only about half could actually fly that night. Even kicking one of the youth group girls off a flight at the gate, after she had been ticketed with a seat assignment and all. – Crazy wrong!
The ten that were left behind thanks to Delta ended up having to stay in a different hotel, which was sketchy, at best – only smokey rooms with bad bedding left, – with a meal ticket that gave you one bottle of water for the 24 hours of additional delay (Thanks Delta).
The next day, after stopping at the ticket office to confirm everyone had seat assignments and following instructions to also have them checked a the airport, where after a couple more hours we got confirmation everyone was booked on that evenings flight, you would think and hope the story would be over, but no – After arriving at the airport that night at 4:30 PM for an early check in (as recommended for a 10:50 flight), we found a line serpentined around the airport. Delta in their ultimate wisdom had now two flights scheduled, the 24 hour delayed flight, our group was on and a regular scheduled flight for that night, which the regular scheduled flight was now being postponed until the following morning at 5:50 AM. Of course they had not informed anyone on that second flights was postponed, so everyone on that second flight was trying to check along with our crew and as well as later trying to re-book to make missed connections – all while we were trying to check in. – …All ok, right – since we had been there twice to confirm everyone was on the flight – we just had longer check in lines, but should be good once we get through the line… but no, that would be too easy. During check in, after they had taken the bags, Delta decided two of the youth group could not be issued boarding passes, since they been rebooked yesterday on a KLM flight, which was still holding them on flights, including he girl they had started to board and kicked off last-minute the night before. – Serious?!?!
It took another 2 hours + in line with the ticketing folks, including multiple calls to Atlanta, Amsterdam and the women who had helped the night before. – Finally, about an hour before the flight was to leave, five hours after we had arrived at the airport, they released the last girls seat and assigned a boarding pass. – YAY!!
I mention this, not only because it is a crazy story, but because of the amazing spirit this group of both leaders and students had, coming together to make the most of the situation. – Making sure everyone was safe and happy (as reasonably could be expected) and not letting it bother them, knowing they had accomplished what they had come for; helping the village, and being good Christians in the process of coming and going. – I also mention it to say to Delta, you have some amazing people working for you; Jane and Abigail to name a few on the ground in Accra, but seriously – you may want to look at this one a little closer. – Yikes!
If that was not enough, I have a short side story that happened in the middle of all this happening above. Between one of the trips from the airport to the hotel to get everyone ready to go and to get messages back to parents and loved ones back in the States the status of all, there were five us needing to catch a cab back to the hotel. Calvin, who had spent the previous 5 hours at a ticket office coordinating things, caught one cab with Emmanuel, and myself, Julia and Alex who had spent the same time between the airport and the embassy grabbed a second cab. Our cab driver and our trip had to be one of craziest and most memorable cab rides I have ever been on.
Julia was in front on the cell phone coordinating transportation for when everyone got back to the States and Alex and I were in the back. The drive was only about 5 kilometers, but in those five klicks I think my life passed in front of me 10 times. – The whole time Julia maintained a lucid productive conversation on coordinating things and putting others at ease on the phone – while I am sure her life was flashing in front of her as well.
This young guy driving had a habit if honking his horn three times – beep, beep, beep, about every three seconds or so while he weaved through traffic. When we came to our first light, he obviously decided the wait was two long, and saw an out by cutting through a strip mall – please note there were no less than four signs saying “No Taxis” – “No Thru” – a half closed gate and a security guard – Our guy took it at about 20 mph and gunned it when he hit the flat parking lot as the security guard was screaming at us and chasing us down. I decided not to look to see if he was carrying a sub machine gun as other guards do…. something you really do not need to know. – Julia did look back at us at this point, but maintained composer .. beep, beep, beep, “yes, three arrive at JFK at 7:00 AM…” – beep, beep, beep – A couple of minutes later, as we arrived at our right turn to the hotel, Alex explained to the cab driver our hotel was coming up on the right – The cabbie’s response was an annoyed, “let me drive” – he proceeded to stay in the left lane, now moving into the left turn lane to pass a car, until the last-minute and then cut across four lanes of traffic and a right turn lane at about 30 mph to make the turn to the hotel…. beep, beep, beep… “yes, 7 arriving at noon…” beep, beep, beep is all heard – my eyes were closed! –
I have to say how impressed I was with the whole group, but with exceptional high regards to Julia, Calvin and Emmanuel who stayed sane and solid and kept it all going and cool through out.
I am sorry, I know none of this has anything to do specifically with the mission or the water project, but a couple of stories from behind the scene that makes all the rest of possible, I thought were worth sharing. – Huge Kudos and thanks to all of the AOV crew and the TCLL youth group. With the people like you on board, you are destin to succeed at all you reach out to achieve. Yaw Tenkorang is a lucky community to have you and we are a better world by having people like this around!! – Thank you all for all you do and for letting me be a small part of it all!!
Celebration cheers in this picture of to all the group for all you did and for getting home safely!!!
You can see the entire post as well as learn more about Joe’s world-wide water tour at the following page: JOE’S BLOG PAGE