You Never Know Who You Will Be Faced With Meeting

Posted to The Huffington Post, Jan.8.2012:

You never know whom you are going to meet, but you should know who you are when you meet them.

After a day of reflection in Accra questioning whether or not we are worthy of the work we are doing, Liz and I decided to take a break and go for dinner. I took her to a peaceful restaurant I had been to many times as a student with NYU in Ghana when I first started Of Rags. We were surprised to find the place busy with a live highlife band playing for a private gathering. As we walked to the upstairs deck where it was quieter, I saw someone's nametag indicating they were from the organization ONE. Half jokingly I said to my partner Liz, "maybe Bono will be here." He has been a guiding example in my life. Then five seconds later Liz spotted him walking in.

Right as our food came, the live music stopped and Bono was introduced by none other than former White House Chief of Staff, Joshua Bolton, accompanied by Senator Lindsey Graham. We moved closer to listen. When the speeches were over, including a mention of gratitude at the presence of Kofi Annan, we returned to our table in awe. We noticed that the obruni (white) man at the table next to us had also taken note of the special guests below. He was sitting with two Ghanaian women whom he didn't seem to know very well. He tried to convey his excitement at seeing Bono, but the women didn't seem to share in his enthusiasm. He asked them where they wanted to go next; anywhere but his house he said. The threesome then left, but not before the man said that he didn't want the group below to see them together so he would go down first and the women should follow. It was obvious what was happening at the table next to us.

It was an interesting moment to find myself in. Here I was, 50 feet away from Bono, a man I admire so greatly, and five feet from a man I never want to become. This contrast helped me face myself. Without further question, I knew that I was worthy of introducing myself to Bono. My partner Liz and I are here in Ghana working on the fair trade cooperative that I started with a Ghanaian artist and launching our peer education program. I am proud of this. I would not be doing it were it not for Bono's inspirational work with ONE, (RED), and his wife Ali's work with the fair trade brand Edun.

Soon, Bono took the mic again and introduced Kofi Annan. Mr. Annan said that "we must always dream, the question is if we are dreaming while we're sleeping or while we're awake." This made a lot of sense to me. Ever since I first saw (RED), I had dreamed of a company using it's marketing budget to take care of people. Now I live that dream.

On his way out, I introduced myself to Bono. And he introduced me to his family. He shared with me his excitement about the work he's doing. "By the end of the year we'll have 8,000 cotton farmers. It's slow, as you know, but worth it," he said. It is worth it and I am wide-awake. Thank you, Bono.