IN AFRICA WITH CRAZIES & TEENS
Nine years ago I flew to Ghana and spent a month living in a little village with no running water or electricity, helping the locals build a school. What a colossal waste of resources that was – a 120 lb weakling flying half way around the world to dig trenches, pour concrete, lay brick. Come on. Seriously?
My role degenerated into getting sent over to the District Chief to beg for bags of rice because our camp kept running out of food – probably because our “leader”, Shalloman (yes, creepy similarity to my last name), who talked about himself in the third person, was permanently stoned on who knows what, wore sheets wrapped around himself as clothing, was certifiably insane. There was this poor volunteer from France who Shalloman effectively deemed would be his servant.
The whole thing was a bit Survivor-esque –except our version Jeff Probst was always creeping around and acting super crazy. My next novel is going to be about this guy. I should point out that all of the other local volunteers with whom we worked and the local villagers were incredible - and equally perplexed by Shalloman.
Our fearless, nut job leader Shalloman wearing a bed sheet.
But the experience impacted how I saw the world. When I came home I lobbied the school where I taught to take on a project that would change people’s lives. Nine years later, almost $100,000 later, three primary schools have a permanent source of water that will last decades. Girls get to attend school instead of walking miles and miles to collect drinking water for their families. Illness is reduced and school attendance is increased because the water is clean. Ahhhhh. So great.
My students in Canada have bought into the project and fundraised to pay for the tanks. Kids helping kids. Does it get any better? I’m giddy thinking about this (but maybe that’s the wine talking?)
Today we head over to see the project in action, and hopefully appreciate our own lives a little more.
And that is why I will be trapped on a plane for 30 hours with teenagers! All that's missing is Shalloman!
Have I mentioned that there is no booze allowed on this trip? I don’t think I’ve ever not drank on a plane before.
Wish me luck!