A Great Escape. Bruno at RISSE.
I met with Amjad Abdalla (Ali) Muhammed yesterday at RISSE, the refugee and immigration center in Albany, New York. We plotted the Great Escape visit, but on the way in, I saw Bruno, a therapy dog with his admirers and friends in the school yard. It was the melting pot, for sure, the thing that helped make America great. Bruno got a lot of loving, I'm thinking of bringing Red for a visit.
Ali and I went over all of the options. I am still dickering with the Great Escape tour department, but Ali lit up at the idea of some extras: the souvenir re-fillable soda cup ($9.99), the catered lunch (all you can eat, ($13.99), the photos on rides option ($3.99). There would be 16 kids at around $50 per person with those add-ons and options, and five adults, including me, and possibly, Maria.
All told, and subject to some negotiating with Sandy, we figured the trip would cost around $1,000 dollars. It isn't like the old Merry-Go-Round in the park. I suppose the kids will get a real lesson in the ingenuity of American capitalism, and have fun in the process. I know kids love this park.
We're skipping the Comet Cash option, wherein the kids are given redeemable special money to buy more things.
Kimberly from Minnesota, an angel, has offered without my even asking to foot the bill for most or all of this trip. I am not going on the roller coaster, for sure. I can always claim heart disease, it's even true.
They don't know me well enough yet to want to kill me.
I've asked Kimberly to think about what she wants to give and make sure she is comfortable with it, and I'll ask for help with the rest if it is necessary. I hope to buy the tickets this week to get the lower rates (these are the lower rates) and also to meet Ali and his crew at the Great Escape Amusement Park and spend the day with them, he is going to pick a day today or tomorrow.
Ali is happy to avoid having to handle details or deal with any bureaucracy, his or theirs.
Next week, a van of refugee kids will be coming to the farm.
We hope to give them a beautiful day in the country and show them the farm and the donkeys and dogs, take them to Pompanuck Farm and Retreat (there is a pond there) and also to the Gulley's dairy farm, an adventure park all of its own. They are coming next Thursday with Ali and some other teachers.
The Great Escape trip will almost certainly be in late June, when the rates are lower. If I need help, I will ask for it, so far, so good. This feels very good to me.
These kids are impressive, loving, generous with one another, eager to learn. I have heard some of the harrowing stories of their lives, and am full of admiration for their courage and resilience. I am grateful to live in a country that has welcomed them and saved them, we are a beacon to the world, even now.