A Dream Come True: Visiting Alenga in June
by Alexis Interrante
Before I tell you how I managed to convince Ms. Pat McDonell and Dr. Christie Billups to let me come with them to Alenga, let me explain why I wanted to go so bad. Since I was a little girl I was obsessed with all animals (maybe not the bugs so much …) but I had a special spot in my heart for sharks. Now you may be thinking what in the world does this have to do with Alenga, Uganda but bear with me; I promise it makes sense. I loved Great White Sharks which is really strange for little girls from Chicago, IL. I was obsessed and I tried to learn everything about them. I soon learned that they migrated to Seal Island, which is right off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa. Immediately I wanted to go there, so I wanted to learn about South Africa which led to Africa as a whole. I first learned a little about some of her history and then I learned about the people and cultures. I fell in love. Since my days of looking at pictures in my textbooks and watching documentaries on Africa, I knew I would do anything to go to Africa. I knew I would somehow get there, so I made it my mission to make it possible.
Now this is where Ms. Pat McDonell and Dr. Christie Billups come into this little story. Christie came to my high school, Regina Dominican, my junior year and told my religion class about Noté Karacel. I saw an opportunity open as I watched and listened to Christie’s PowerPoint. I saw the girls or Little Flowers as Christie called them and their smiles and I knew I wanted to go there. I said to myself, “Al, this could be it! This is where you were meant to go!” While I contemplated this little thought, school moved on and summer came. I had Africa on the back burner, and I was working and enjoying being a senior (finally!). Then I got a call from a friend saying Father Stan and Christie were coming to Regina for a luncheon and she invited me to come. This brought back my little thought. I took it as a sign, I had to get a plan into action. I was aiming for Africa and I was determined to accomplish this goal. I had to start somewhere, why not with Ms. McDonell? I pestered her until she agreed to organize a trip to Alenga with some Regina girls, me of course number one on the list. She actually agreed! I could not believe it! I nearly jumped for joy (of course I did when Ms. McDonell wasn’t looking!) One down! Now onto the biggest mountain: the parents.
I thought no way are they going to let me go to Africa, they barely let me extend my curfew! But I had hope and determination. I had to strategies this one, expecting a battle or a flat out “NO,” I made a very good argument: I would pay for everything myself (I worked two part-time jobs just to save up the money). After I said Ms. McDonell said yes, they agreed! I was shocked, literally. Did that just happen? I said to myself as I walked away after our conversation. Everything seemed to fall into place.
It was a miracle, but then reality set in and the other now seniors I was planning on going with had to cancel because of the costs. Ms. McDonell said she wanted at least two girls to go so we would probably have to cancel the trip. My heart broke, I was so close and it all came burning down, but I forgot about one thing, I have the world’s best sister. My younger sister, Krista, agreed to go in place of the other girls so I could still go. I will forever be grateful to what she is agreed to do because I know she had some big plans with her friends this summer and she is now giving them up so I can make my dream come true.
On June 17th, our plane takes off and we will be on our way to Uganda. On my plane, Ms. McDonell, her nephew Kevin, my sister, and me will finally be on our way! We will meet Fr. Stan and Christie in Uganda and stay for almost three weeks. I cannot wait! I have been to the travel clinic and Krista and I are all set to go. I was so scared of getting all the shots, but I told myself it is just a minor bump in the road in order to get a chance of a lifetime! I cannot wait until I get to meet all the girls and see Fr. Stan again! Thank you Notè Karacel for opening your arms to Krista and me! We are so excited to meet everyone in Alenga, Uganda this June!