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The Adventure to America

A Short Story
Intended to be read to my five-year-old daughter as part of her reading program.

As a little boy, I dreamed of going to America. I was told many beautiful stories about America. I heard about cars and trains, buses and trolleys. I heard of bright street lights and broad highways. I heard of plenty of good foods, cold drinks and sweet smelling frying oils. I heard that the houses were beautiful with fresh running water and everything else inside. Those stories always made me want to go to America.

I saw people from America visiting my little town. Some of them were at my age. Most of them were White but some had the same color like me. They talked about God and sang songs about Heaven, love and joy. The Children wore new clothes and played with a lot of toys. They were friendly and played with us sometimes.

I loved the people from America. I loved the stories they told. Although I did not taste their foods, their smells told me that they tasted so good. Even the leftovers that were fed to the dogs looked delicious.
My wish, my dream, and my prayer was to go to America one day. I told God about my wish and I believed He heard me.

I made my first attempt to travel to America in 1989. That was after I came out of high school. I applied for a scholarship to study Engineering in America. That plan did not work as I did not get the scholarship. I don’t know if anyone was chosen from among us the applicants. My heart was broken but I did not cry or lose hope. I still had a strong hope that I would go to America one day.

Then a war was started. There were gun sounds everywhere. A lot of people got killed. Many things were destroyed. Tall houses, schools, and cars were burned. Bridges and railways were knocked down. People ran here and there to be safe. Luckily, I was among those who were safe. God protected me. I left my country to places I have never been. Life in those places was very, very hard. Food, water, and clothing were hard to find. Families were separated. Brothers did not know where to find their sisters. Uncles did not know the whereabouts of their nieces and nephews. Parents were not around. Life was so hard.

Some of the people in those other countries were not so nice. They looked at us as strangers and people with lots of troubles. They did not have enough for themselves let alone to share with us. There were others who were not mean to us. They took us in and treated us like their very own people. They felt sorry that our country was destroyed. Other peoples from other countries were kind to us. They sent us foods, blankets and other things we needed. Those things and the love they showed us made life better and we were happy.

I still wanted to go to America. In America I was sure that life would be much better. I would be able to eat regularly again. I would be able to go to school again. I would be able to have all the things that I have ever wanted. There were many other people who thought the same way I did. Plenty of us dreamed about America every day.

The year 2000 was a "dream come true." A life-long wish has finally come to pass. America, here I come! I was in total disbelief. Even when I was handed my traveling documents from the American Embassy, I did not show the kind of excitement that I hoped. It was like a dream. Even when some well wishes and family members filled my little refugee home to bid me goodbye, I was still in disbelief. I kept all my joy inside my belly. There was no way I could show the joy of realizing a life-long wish and dream.

When the time finally came for me to fly to America, I could not get an air ticket. That was the beginning of another set of troubles. In fact the office of the airline in Accra, Ghana was closed. This was the airline with which my ticket was purchased. I had to travel to neighboring Ivory Coast where the airline was still operating. I had to leave in a week or else my visa would expire. Finding a place to stay and getting around in Abidjan, Ivory Coast were new challenges. And speaking French while in Ivory Coast was another battle as Most of the people in Ivory Coast were not so kind to English speaking Liberians whom some of them blamed for many bad things that were happening in their country. Besides, the security people in the Ivory Coast ask for residence permit heard as “carde de jour” even for people passing through the country.

The night I arrived in Abidjan, I got sick. I had a severe stomachache that took me closer to the grave.
“My hope for America is lost!” I thought to myself. I stayed in pain for the next ten hours. By the evening of the following day after everything else had failed, I asked my host to take me to a clinic. The clinic was not a place any sick person would like to be but I had no other choice. At least they did what they could and I became little better. I gained little bit of strength, just enough to take me searching for my air ticket in a city where language barrier was a big obstacle. I pieced together the little French I remember and with the help of my host, I was able to conclude most of the traveling arrangements before night finally fell. My ticket, they said, was to be picked up at the airport on the day of my flight which was the next day.

In spite of all the troubles and uncertainties, I boarded the plane to America the following day. I kept dreaming even while I was in the air. I was still not sure if my life-long dream has finally beeng fulfilled. For eight long hours in the air, above the clouds and the oceans, I kept saying to myself,
“I can’t believe I am going to America.” It was only when I saw my sister’s smiling face at the JFK Airport welcoming me to the United States that I realized that my dream has actually come true.

Special thanks to my daughter, five year old Doryen who asked me to write her stories and who in fact suggested the title after I read it to her under the title “Coming to America.”

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