A Return to Loveliest Insanity

Dearest Friend,

I’m so sorry for being gone so long. Time got away from me, and before I knew it, I hadn’t written anything in months! I’ve missed you, and so many things have happened since we last spoke. In July, I left Uganda and GWED-G with many tears and “I’ll miss you”s and looks over my shoulder. I was initially supposed to visit Nigeria before going home but had visa troubles, so, much to my parents’ shock, I marched up on our Wisconsin porch a few weeks early. I won’t go into detail about their reactions, but let’s just say that my father isn’t often speechless and my mother’s bladder control isn’t what it used to be. Words can’t describe how wonderful it was to see their faces, feel carpet under my bare feet, eat my mother’s lasagna, and introduce Tucker to the United States! That’s right, my four-legged shadow crossed the pond with me. We’d become inseparable in Uganda, and there was no way I could stomach the thought of leaving him behind. One 10 hour bus ride, 2 flights, one layover, and three hours in the car later and Tucker was home! As I predicted, everyone instantly fell in love with his sweet personality and snuggly nature…well, almost everyone. The cat wasn’t terribly thrilled.

The rest of July, August, and September passed in a flurry of coffee dates, dinner dates, TV marathons, new-job prep, dog walks, roadtrips, and packing. I hadn’t come all the way home just to smell the roses, after all. I landed myself a new job! You’re talking to the newest US Country Director of Children of Rural Africa (CorAfrica). Actually, you’re talking to the only US Country Director in CorAfrica’s history! They’re a fantastic organization, founded by a Nigerian Catholic priest named Peter Abue, that runs education, health, water, and economic programs in SE Nigeria (now you see how Nigeria fits into all of this). They’ve got a great group of volunteers and staff both here and in Nigeria, but they saw the need for a more established US office that could spearhead fundraising, communication, and strategic development efforts – so they hired me! Over the next two years, it will be my job to generate resources, strengthen systems, implement initiatives, and in all ways support and grow this inspiring organization that is already doing so much good. When I wasn’t talking in funny voices with my Mom, running around Milwaukee’s nightlife with long-unseen friends, or catching up on Bones, I was getting ready to take the plunge into my new adventure with CorAfrica. Which brings us to October….

Ladies and gentlement, I’m happy to report that I am writing to you from my very own studio apartment in New York City. Queens, to be exact. A neighborhood called Sunnyside, which I’m finding to be charming and full of life. With the exception of a stingy superintendent who edged toward irate today when I locked myself out of my apartment (to be fair, the guy did have to climb in my kitchen window from the fire escape), everything has been wonderful. I’ve gone running several times without getting lost. I’ve done the laundry, figured out how to work the oven, found a few good grocery stores, and unpacked all the boxes. It feels empty without Tucker, who will join me in late November, but my neighbors are welcoming and the family-run cafe across the street serves massive, steaming bowls of lentil soup for just $2.50 each. What more can you ask for?

Unfortunately (or if you’re my superintendent, maybe it’s fortunately), my grounding is only temporary. This Saturday, I’m headed to Nigeria for five weeks in order to turbocharge my work with CorAfrica. The job officially started September 1st, but I won’t be able to get going full steam ahead until I get on the ground, meet people, and see the state of things for myself. Nigeria’s not a terribly nice place to be right now….while the country has done a remarkable job eradicating Ebola within its borders, the rest of West Africa is still in extremely dire straits. Boko Haram continues to cause┬ámayhem in the north, and upcoming elections have everyone a bit on edge. I’ll be in the Southeast corner of the country, though, and we’re not expecting any hiccups. After a few visits to the Nigerian embassy, several encounters with a rather surly visa processing agent, and a bit of hair-pulling over the out of date information on Nigeria’s immigration website, I’ve got my visa! All systems, go!

Now that I’m getting back into my blogging groove, I’ll be sure to keep you posted about life in the Big Apple and my blunders in getting acquainted, my trip to Nigeria, working with CorAfrica, and probably anything else that pops into my head. Again, so sorry for the gap in correspondence, dear friend. Just know that I’ve missed you, and I hope we can go back to being on regular speaking terms again. I’ll certainly do my best on this end.

Goodbye for now from Sunnyside.

Emi