Saved by the bell

By Efua Owusu- Ansah

The 19th ANLP officially ended on the 20th of March, 2020. The participants who were left said their goodbyes to the facilitators and organizers. This was after the backdrop of having a stressful week with the news of the global COVID-19 pandemic and soaring death rate. Sodey, my colleague from Ghana, and I were to fly back to our country on that faithful Friday, 20th March 2020 at 5 pm South African time. The president of Ghana had previously announced that non-citizens traveling to Ghana from countries where the Covid-19 cases were higher than 200 would not be admitted into the country. There were also threats of closing all borders to the country for all flights as well. The flight for some of our colleagues had already been rescheduled; no news of any cancellation yet. All participants moved from Potchefstroom to Johannesburg to wait for our time for check-in at the Dove’s Guesthouse.

Our check-in time was getting close so Sodey and I left for the airport, her husband had already checked-in for her online so I was left to do mine at the airport. Some few seconds from the guest house, Sodey had a message that our flight had been canceled.! Whhaaaat?? No panicking, God is in control, what was the worst-case scenario? These were the words we exchanged amongst ourselves as we were directed to still go to the airport and find out whether we can transfer.

We arrived at the airport to inquire if we can transfer only to be told that, South African Airlines was not transferring, but they will reimburse us later when we request it. Hhhhmmmm! What can and should we do? Thank God for the efficiency and professionalism of Ronel who came to our rescue. Ronel asked us to check with Ethiopian Airlines if we could get a flight to Ghana. The airport was filled with hundreds of people who were also anxious to get to their home countries. I did not have enough money on me to buy a The 19th ANLP officially ended on the 20th of March, 2020. The participants who were left said their goodbyes to the facilitators and organizers. This was after the backdrop of having a stressful week with the news of the global COVID-19 pandemic and soaring death rate. Sodey, my colleague from Ghana, and I were to fly back to our country on that faithful Friday, 20th March 2020 at 5 pm South African time. The president of Ghana had previously announced that non-citizens traveling to Ghana from countries where the Covid-19 cases were higher than 200 would not be admitted into the country. There were also threats of closing all borders to the country for all flights as well. The flight for some of our colleagues had already been rescheduled; no news of any cancellation yet. All participants moved from Potchefstroom to Johannesburg to wait for our time for check-in at the Dove’s Guesthouse. 
Our check-in time was getting close so Sodey and I left for the airport, her husband had already checked-in for her online so I was left to do mine at the airport. Some few seconds from the guest house, Sodey had a message that our flight had been canceled.! Whhaaaat?? No panicking, God is in control, what was the worst-case scenario? These were the words we exchanged amongst ourselves as we were directed to still go to the airport and find out whether we can transfer.
We arrived at the airport to inquire if we can transfer only to be told that, South African Airlines was not transferring, but they will reimburse us later when we request it. Hhhhmmmm! What can and should we do? Thank God for the efficiency and professionalism of Ronel who came to our rescue. Ronel asked us to check with Ethiopian Airlines if we could get a flight to Ghana. The airport was filled with hundreds of people who were also anxious to get to their home countries. I did not have enough money on me to buy a new ticket so Sodey topped up for me to buy my ticket for the 11 pm flight through Addis Ababa to Ghana (I am not sure whether I have shown enough gratitude to Sodey for being a God sent angel that day). I believe that day, I did over 15,000 steps from walking back and forth in the airport. My green coloured passport was turning to white from over sanitization (one can never be too cautious you know). 
Whiles waiting for Dove’s guest house bus to pick us up after buying our tickets, we saw an ambulance park a few feet from us, waiting for a patient with COVID-19 to be sent to the hospital; you can imagine our faces. We finally joined our other colleagues at the guest house to wait for our flight at 11 pm.
The journey from Johannesburg through Addis Ababa saw us strictly following all the protocols for the prevention of COVID-19 (we brought our face masks down for the picture; this does not still make it right though). We stuck together with each step of the way. Praise be to God we arrived safely in Ghana on the 21st of March. All passengers were asked to join queues where our temperatures were checked on monitors. When it got to my turn, guess what? Mine read 38.5 degrees Celsius, red! Alarm! No, this can’t be true; I am stressed out. I was asked to move to another monitor which now read 35 degrees Celsius, whew!! I had to take another flight to Kumasi where I live, we all got home safely. Due to all the adrenalin, I felt dizziness and body pain; I thought I had been infected. To God’s glory, Sodey tested twice for COVID-19, and they were all negative. I made the inference that if she was negative, I was (that is not always the case). We narrowly escaped being mandatorily isolated; all passengers on subsequent flights were all isolated for 10-14 days and tested. God saved us. We all joined our families and are still staying safe.
What are the lessons? One never despises the experiences God has sent you through. Through-out the ANLP, we were exposed to how we can make the best of every moment for our good, being positive and from Johann’s voice and words, “it should be for the greater good of those surrounding you”. Other colleague participants also spiced most of our experiences with a lot of laughter (thank you, Christine, and Sheila). My conversations with Christine (one of my accountability buddies) in particular was filled with our testimonies of how God took us through situations when we didn’t have hope.
Secondly, God’s divine plan is there for us. However, we need to use wisdom to follow the rules set for our safety.
Lastly and most importantly, staying positive despite the odds pays off big time; Afterall there is the law of attraction (Apostle Paul in the bible said that; what I feared has come to me). What then do I have to lose staying positive? I will smile my way out of every challenge.
Stay tuned for my perspectives on the experiences of my colleagues.
new ticket so Sodey topped up for me to buy my ticket for the 11 pm flight through Addis Ababa to Ghana (I am not sure whether I have shown enough gratitude to Sodey for being a God sent angel that day). I believe that day, I did over 15,000 steps from walking back and forth in the airport. My green coloured passport was turning to white from over sanitization (one can never be too cautious you know).

Whiles waiting for Dove’s guest house bus to pick us up after buying our tickets, we saw an ambulance park a few feet from us, waiting for a patient with COVID-19 to be sent to the hospital; you can imagine our faces. We finally joined our other colleagues at the guest house to wait for our flight at 11 pm.

The journey from Johannesburg through Addis Ababa saw us strictly following all the protocols for the prevention of COVID-19 (we brought our face masks down for the picture; this does not still make it right though). We stuck together with each step of the way. Praise be to God we arrived safely in Ghana on the 21st of March. All passengers were asked to join queues where our temperatures were checked on monitors. When it got to my turn, guess what? Mine read 38.5 degrees Celsius, red! Alarm! No, this can’t be true; I am stressed out. I was asked to move to another monitor which now read 35 degrees Celsius, whew!! I had to take another flight to Kumasi where I live, we all got home safely. Due to all the adrenalin, I felt dizziness and body pain; I thought I had been infected. To God’s glory, Sodey tested twice for COVID-19, and they were all negative. I made the inference that if she was negative, I was (that is not always the case). We narrowly escaped being mandatorily isolated; all passengers on subsequent flights were all isolated for 10-14 days and tested. God saved us. We all joined our families and are still staying safe.

What are the lessons? One never despises the experiences God has sent you through. Through-out the ANLP, we were exposed to how we can make the best of every moment for our good, being positive and from Johann’s voice and words, “it should be for the greater good of those surrounding you”. Other colleague participants also spiced most of our experiences with a lot of laughter (thank you, Christine, and Sheila). My conversations with Christine (one of my accountability buddies) in particular was filled with our testimonies of how God took us through situations when we didn’t have hope.

Secondly, God’s divine plan is there for us. However, we need to use wisdom to follow the rules set for our safety.

Lastly and most importantly, staying positive despite the odds pays off big time; Afterall there is the law of attraction (Apostle Paul in the bible said that; what I feared has come to me). What then do I have to lose staying positive? I will smile my way out of every challenge.

Stay tuned for my perspectives on the experiences of my colleagues.

Sodey and I at the Kotoka International airport