A. “Akwaaba! Welcome to Ghana! Gateway to Africa”…The sign was the first to greet us in the Accra airport after our six hour flight from Amsterdam.We packed last Friday, have been travelling since last Saturday and only one more day to go to arrive at our final destination of Nalerigu.
“What time is it?” The kids ask. I have no idea how to answer that. Yes, I can look at my watch. But my head says the middle of the morning and it’s black outside with no sounds but the Amsterdam church bells. Or my head says it is definitely time for a sleep, cuz it’s mid-afternoon—not that I’m accustomed to an afternoon siesta, but it feels like bedtime. Hopefully within the week our sleep cycles will adjust.
B. “All hands on deck to fight against EBOLA”. This would be the second sign I’d see in the airport. Please use hand sanitizers and wash hands regularly, the sign told me. On the threshold of the airport, we are marched single file through the temperature detector, the kids have suited personnel walking up to them, no warning, and sticking a laser at their eyes. I had to jump in to tell my kids what was going on. People are everywhere watching the newly disembarked passengers faint or sweat or whatever thing they think they’ll actually be able to see that will magically prevent it from getting here.
Obviously I haven’t been idealistically, blithely ignoring the purple elephant in the room. I can guess what some might think when I say we’re heading to West Africa. And I’m thinking you won’t be surprised that if someone else has thought a fearful though, you can guarantee I have thought it too. I’ve had my anxious moments, or mini breakdowns, and generally the more educated I’ve become, the less I’ve had them. More on that another day.
C. Security issues. I’m actually reassured that they want to fingerprint me, eye radar me, and require a visual on our vaccination cards. Oh the first world issue of boycotting vaccinations!
If only there was a vaccination for malaria. Then I wouldn’t have to take this doxycycline—does nasty things to my tummy, but at least it doesn’t do nasty things to my head like malarone did two years ago. When once I was concerned that I was on a guaranteed weight loss program heading back to this continent, I can now be certain of it, because of the doxycycline.
D. As I step out of the airport I see what we have in North America. Organization. Though it was mildly amusing to our egos to walk down the ‘concrete carpet’ as hundreds of onlookers or taxi cab drivers stared or yelled at us to pick them to take us to our destination, this is a different place. People are walking everywhere. There are a LOT of people.
We get to our Baptist Guesthouse suite and discover a water filter on the tap, obviously no WIFI, an old air conditioner and reminders of why even the old house I’m renting in Canada at present is FAN—CEE.
E. Just one more day of travelling! We’ve got four hours before our one hour flight to Tamale and three hour drive to Nalerigu. A brief step into the tepid shower was INVITING. The whap of hot air like the opening of your dryer mid-cycle combined with the opening of the bathroom door while your daughter is showering…that combo of heat and humidity…welcomed us before we stepped off the KLM plane.
F. I feel privileged to be part of this work. It is meaningful. Really meaningful. And I’m not even there yet. We have the opportunity to share what we’ve been given. Freedom, material resources well beyond our needs, particular skills that are especially useful. I feel privileged!
In conclusion, I want to quote my youngest daughter. Walking along our road on a crisp rain-filled day, she spontaneously, and surprisingly, quipped, “Mom, don’t you sometimes think it’s just a privilege to be alive?” Yes, Rachel, it is.