A few days ago the song “Hello World” by Lady Antebellum came on in the car while I was driving and it brought back memories from my last trip to Africa.
I’ve been to Ethiopia twice with friends; I’m involved in a small nonprofit there. The last time we went our guide took us to a hospital that he and his wife help support.
Our guide’s wife was born with a clubfoot. Several years ago she had an operation through an organization in Ethiopia that coordinates Italian surgeons to provide operations for children and adults who otherwise could not afford treatment. The hospital we visited is the place where they go for weeks or months after the surgery to be cared for by nurses and start their physical therapy. There were children there scheduled for surgery in the next few days and children who were waiting for second surgeries.
We toured the grounds and met some of the children. Most of them seemed shy, but cautiously happy to meet us. Inside one of the buildings there was a classroom where a few children were watching a small television. The “Hello World” video by Lady Antebellum was playing.
I love Lady Antebellum. A friend of mine took me to their concert a few months before we went to Africa where we had second row seats. We were so close I could read the lead singer’s tattoo. I’ve never been that close to any band and I thought the whole experience was magical.
The first time I heard the song “Hello World” it really struck a chord in me. I was in my car stuck in LA traffic on the freeway. I usually talk to myself or daydream on the freeway, but when this song came on I instantly focused on it. It filled me with a sense of hope and optimism. The default title for the first post of any WordPress blog template is “Hello World”. To me it signifies the start of something, a chance for a new beginning. I’ve always turned up the radio when it comes on, it seems like my own special song.
There I was 12,000 miles away from home in an obscure little classroom that I entered exactly when this particular song was playing on the television. I had a moment where I wasn’t at all sure where I was. Down was up. Left was right. How could this happen, this melding of two very different worlds through the language of one song? I looked at the children in that room and understood that they really aren’t any different than the children in my neighborhood. They too have hopes and dreams and are grateful for any kindness the world chooses to bestow upon them.
As we drove away we passed the bus of Italian doctors coming up the hill to perform surgeries on these children the next day. Each of them had flown thousands of miles to donate their time and skills to improve the lives of total strangers.