I was quickly approaching the expiration date of both my certified flight instructor license and my medical health certificate, which needed to be kept on file back in the USA and required an updated physical exam. These two documents are necessary for any pilot and need to be up to date at all times due to professional standards that are set and must be followed. If I were to let my license or health certificate expire, then it would be the end of our mission folks and a lot of extra time and money to get them reinstated. For these reasons, I needed to make a necessary trip back to the United States.
The price for this endeavor was definitely not cheap and I had to pre-purchase my ticket back in Zimbabwe in order to fly on Ethiopian Airlines. There were all kinds of enroute stops on my flight back to El Paso, TX and by the time I arrived, I had landed on 3 continents and had spent over 26 hours of flying time. But, we all know that there are going to be times of struggle on this journey that I have chosen for myself, so there is no room to complain. It’s always helpful to stay positive about these things, otherwise its no fun for any of us.
Wow! What a difference I felt landing back in the states. It felt terrific to touch that soil again. Since I was back in El Paso, I was able to meet up with some friends and family that I hadn’t seen in awhile. What a long time that it had been since I had experienced such luxuries as eating great food, feeling safe and secure, breath in some air that my body was used to and feel a strong sense of the comfort that being in a home away from home provides. After a brief visit with my friends, I was off to take care of my obligations.
After finishing up with my licensure and certification activities, I was invited to Detroit by our angel, Mr. Tom Duhani. I hope you all remember that he has been very kind to our mission and has helped organize support from the Detroit community for us a few times now. Within hours of arrival, Mr. Duhani had arranged for a group of locals to meet the very next evening in order to learn more about our mission and give to our cause. I was delighted to see that so many people turned out, that they offered their help financially and that they showed great interest in the work that I am doing. If it were not for all of the emotional and financial support that I have received over the past two years from everyone, there is absolutely no way that I would still be able to continue our mission. When I am having down days, I remember all of the excitement and well wishes of my brothers and sisters who have shown their support for our Kosovo and who wish to see Flying for Kosovo succeed.
Mr. Duhani graciously offered us his beautiful new restaurant Fortesa as the meeting place. I was astonished to learn that Mr Duhani and his brother Alex, had an ever bigger surprise for me. They expressed to me that their television station, Illyria, had been busy making a documentary about me since my last visit here in 2010 and that they often aired it locally to the surrounding Albanian community. I am grateful to our good friend for the many things that he has done for us.
It was a great pleasure to meet with my brothers in Detroit. Out of all of the Albanian-American communities that I have met, it appears that Detroit is the most organized of all. Of course, they were very helpful back during our war in Kosovo, but they continue to maintain their organized manner and are ready to help out our homeland in whatever way is needed. I am sure now that the rest of our diaspora around the globe might not be very happy to hear this from me, but the fact is that we can’t avoid the truth of the matter. Our friends in Detroit take things seriously right away and are ready to participate in anything that will help our Albania and Kosovo, including our mission. Their professional manner is a good example of how we all can contribute our individual attention and resources toward our common cause.
One person that I was very honored to meet while in Detroit was Mr. Ekram Bardha. Some of you might know him very well as he has done a tremendous amount to help the Albania cause and has done so for many decades. Mr. Bardha is a successful businessman whose heart remains loyal to the Albanian cause and he indeed has been very influential with America’s government officials in raising awareness of the issues faced in our area of this giant planet. Mr. Bardha was kind enough to spend two evenings with us and donated a great deal of his time, money at attention to our mission. May we all be reminded to express such commitment to the progress of our country.
I also got a kick out of our American friend, Laurie Smith (whom you’ll remember is a very loyal member of our voluntary mission team). She currently lives in the Detroit area and so was able to attend the event. She was so focused on trying to understand our Albanian conversation and wanted to know every word about what we had discussed. At one point, I looked over to notice that her face was turning red from her gratitude at receiving a copy of Mr.Bardha’s book, Far Yet Near Albania. Folks, it seems like she hasn’t had enough of us yet and keeps wanting to learn more. Crazy girl she is.
Again, it was great to be spend an evening with such great friends and enjoy a fantastic food at Fortesa.
Someone else that I have a great appreciation for is y close friend Mr. Nail Spahiu. He has remained a loyal and dedicated friend to our mission and has spent many hours with me in our baby plane filming and experiencing life ‘on the road’. As I was heading back toward Malawi, I was able to visit with him during a brief layover of my flights. He again expressed his support and graciously donated some of his money to our mission, along with our good friend Samir Ibroci, who came to pick me up at the Neward, NJ airport. It was great to see them both and have a wonderful dinner together.
Finally, it was time for another transatlantic flight. Thankfully, this one took only 15 hours, which is much better than the 26 hours it took to get here. As always, you meet many interesting people during your travel time. I am thankful for the new friendship that I made with Mr. David Schroeder, Mr. Glen Diller and Ms. Lulit Negash during my long flight back to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Ms. Negash took time to teach me a lot about her Ethiopian culture during our flight back to her homeland.
Here are the photos taken in Detroit, USA