The best way to describe my experience in Africa is to recall some of my expectations about the trip. I had so many weird feelings leading right up to the date we shoved off. Everyone I spoke to shared the same feelings; a little nervous, a little excited, a little concerned and a little anxious about just getting there. The travel was, in a word, brutal.
There were several long plane rides and lots of driving as well, but as soon as we settled in it was amazing. The realization of actually being there in Africa with my Viridian family was unreal; swimming in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of western Africa was incredible.
The next morning we headed out to Asunafo to meet the villagers and World Joy organizers. As soon as we rolled in you could feel the love and appreciation from every person we locked eyes with. They knew in their hearts we were there to truly make a difference and give them a small gift that will make their lives a little easier. Driving through village after village, waving to children playing in schoolyards was epic!
We stopped to take a quick bathroom break and noticed children playing soccer in a field across the highway from where we were parked. I told the group this would be a great place to give them a brand new shiny soccer ball we’d brought from back home. As soon as we exited the buses they began to swarm us jumping and screaming, excited to see what we had for them. I couldn't wait another second to show them the ball I had hidden behind my back. I punted the ball as far as I could and a rugby scrum ensued; they went crazy! It was one of the most fulfilling moments of my life.
Face it: Giving an American kid a ball is kind of a joke. They would look at you like, “You’re kidding me, right?” But kicking a ball to over 100 children in Ghana and seeing their reaction was priceless. They waved and screamed and laughed and most importantly gave us a huge gift of love.
I could have driven in that bus for a week and given away ball after ball, driving through village after village. It’s an amazing thing: Give something from your heart and receive a tremendous gift back 100 times more powerful than you’ve ever felt. I felt more loved and appreciated in Africa than ever before. Thank you, Viridian.
My name is John LoPresto, and I am Generation V.