Saturday, September 1, 2007

Mrs. Todo Cokfect's wild ride

Ann went to Nairobi to meet her twin, Machacha (swahili), and from there they had work to do. The kind, you know, where you repair the damage that distance has done. She boarded the flight with the refugees from kibondo and promptly broke out into a cold sweat.

This is called escorting the refugees. You show them how little there is to worry about, even though, for the first time in their lives, they are placing all of their faith in a technology that, up until then, has offered them only noise in the sky.

So Ann boards the plane, gives thumbs up and smiles, and in Mary Lou tradition, crosses herself and leans back, glancing over to the window. Then she notices the movement around her and turns around, to see that all the refugees have begun crossing themselves and one taps her on the shoulder and asks if it is OK if they begin singing hymns. And so, as the plane rises, so do the voices of the free. Their songs say goodbye to Tanzania, the country they appreciate but where they have never been free, and the joy adds lift.

Everytime there is turbulence on this short flight, Ann yells Sawa sawa (it means OK, OK in swahili) and the restlessness settles. Meanwhile, in the belly of Ann, a different turbulence threatens her equilibrium.

Ann says,

"As the flight descended into Nairobi many of the passengers became restless. One of the passengers who spoke french said to me ' this is our last view of a developing country.' When we landed in Kenya they thought they were in America. I explained that they were still in Africa as I escorted them through the airport. It struck me then that they were on the way to their new lives in Las Vegas and Mobile and Boise. Places I was their notable authority on. Places I had never been.

How do I even explain my saying goodbye to them. Parting ways. Giving out my email address to everyone. saying "tell me when you get there". Knowing or not knowing what lays ahead of them. They with their plastic bags containing all of their belongings. They say, "You are not going with us all the way". Ann says, "Everythings going to be OK. OK."

And, "Someone like me will be on the other end."

She always tells them: "You have survived this long in the refugee camps. Its going to be hard, but not as hard as it was there. If you have survived that you will survive this. "

There is something stronger in some people. Once you arrive you will see that you have this thing. There will people that help you who have seen this thing. It is a thing outside of you, attached to you but not yours. It is important. You will forget it. Still it remains a part of you. You will remember it.

there wil be people to help you.....but it will b e hard. Its hard to

Meanwhile, Amy's plane begins its descent.


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Laura Maffeo said...

Good lord Ann, you make me teary-eyed!
you are my hero.....for all your good work AND for the fact that you have dealt with some ENORMOUS bugs and you're still there!!!

Supermosca said...

Wow . . .It's ro. Can I come visit?

Anonymous said...

me too.
it's ro's dude