Traveling to Africa Is Always an Adventure
I’ve lost count of how many trips I’ve made to Africa, but it’s up around 10 or more. I’m fortunate I’ve come across a company like Jettly to take care of my travels. You can check out their blog, for it has everything you’d need to know. And I’ve let go of any expectations that I’ll make all of my flights and actually arrive as scheduled. I left Chicago with Spark investor and photographer Paul Johnson on Thursday night, and we flew to London, arriving Friday morning. (Yes – we were in London for the Royal Wedding. Sorry to disappoint, but we were not part of the one million people who were out lining the streets in London. We were in the airport for our seven-hour layover and watched the festivities on TV with the other two billion people around the world.) Anyway, at the airport, we met up with our two video guys from Los Angeles-Sam Sanchez and Zachary Rockwood. The four of us boared our flight for Johannesburg getting settled into our second-to-last row seats right next to the bathroms on the South African Airways jumbo jet. Three hours later we were still in those seats but only 15 or 20 feet above the Heathrow tarmack instead of 30,000 feet in the air over Western Africa. After hearing more details than I would have liked about computer failures that had been repaired, we finally departed.
We arrived four hours late in Johannesburg, South Africa and missed the one daily flight to Ndola. The airline was nice enough to put us up in a hotel near the airport where we got some food and a short sleep before we headed back to the airport before 7AM to catch the flight to Ndola. Good thing we were early, because the airline told us we didn’t have tickets on the flight. I asked if there were still seats and there were, but they were going to make us purchase new tickets. Since tickets were $300 each and since it wasn’t our fault that we missed the prevous day’s flight, I decided that a little push back would be appropriate. I’ll spare you the running around and series of conversations that followed and just say that we got on the flight without paying and landed safely in Ndola on Sunday around noon. Of course we were greeted by Spark’s partner director in Zambia, Charles Mumba. And he whisked us away to a gathering of the Hope Ministries community. It’s expected that visiting leaders speak. So suffering from jet lag, tired, but thankful to be here, I got up and spoke to this amazing group… Hope Ministries.
I shared with them a favorite quote from one of Nelson Mandela’s speeches: “As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” I explained that they have been an example to us at Spark Ventures of the amazing change that can happen when just a few people let their light and lives shine. Every time I come to Zambia I am inspired by Hope’s work with the children living in extreme poverty here. Today, there is a very powerful light emanating from this place. And it is good to know that Spark has been part of fueling the flames of transformation…empowering this small NGO to become a major force in their community, providing nutrition, education, healthcare and much more.
That’s all for today. More tomorrow as we get to work…