ALL RISE-Episode 2: A Tale of 2 Worlds

By Tom Everitt

To Kale and Flame.  This one's for you, boys.  

I just finished reading The Martian.  My 1st 'down time' novel of our 80 Anthems journey. Without a doubt, it's one of those 'I can't put it down and, no dear, you are NOT going to start reading it until I am done' books.  

In case you live on another planet (see what I did there? ) and have never heard of The Martian (or the Matt Damon film adaption), it's a terrifically well written book about an astronaut stranded on Mars and the struggles he faces on a cold, alien and unforgiving planet.  A planet the exact opposite of the one he was launched from.  The contrast between Earth and Mars could not be more clear.  The stunning blue marble vs the angry red planet. Paradise vs Wasteland. The 'Haves' vs the 'Have Nots'.  

Ironic, then, that we visited Honduras and the Cayman Islands back to back.  The juxtaposition was a familiar one after reading The Martian.  And again, as with most of my ALL RISE blogs, it should be clear that any assumptions in this blog were made during 2 days of an extremely limited experience.  Please forgive my inaccuracies.   We had a very limited time to experience the schools or areas before be whisked back to our drop off point and onward to our next destination.

Honduras was ..... tough.  The streets were tough.  The shacks were tough.  Combined, it made the neighbourhoods themselves even tougher.  When our cabbie drove us thru the 'downtown' I'd be lying if I didn't say I was nervous as to where he was going to drop us off.  My ego will tell you it's because of our two young kids being with us.  My heart will tell you I was more than a little nervous regardless of who was with me.  As it turned out, the only robberies being committed that day were from the brutally expensive tourist trap that the cab driver (paid off no doubt) took us to.  I never thought my inevitable mugging would take place, legally, in the isle of a tacky store.  

It was driving back that I met Flame.  You'll see his picture below.  Take a long look at the personality flickering through that shot.  Flames from his shirt, flames from his eyes.  Initially, I saw a group of 10 children hanging out of the back of a stationary pickup truck in a rather upsetting area of the island.  It wasn't pleasant.  I asked the thief... err... driver.. to pull over.  As I prepared to take the picture, Flame shot over.  One of the most charismatic kids I've ever seen.  All over me.  Awesome.  A burning personality if you will.  

I wish a limitless future for that child.  He deserves it.  I won't forget him.

Contrast that (in background anyhow)  to Kale, a grade 4 student at Cayman International School in the Cayman Islands.  CIS is an IB school known for producing future leaders.  Future CEO's.  Our future.  I knew nothing about Kale.  I don't know his history.  I don't know his parents.  I know nothing.  I do know that he was the 1st child I met at the school.  I also knew that perhaps the only difference between he and Flame was that one was seemingly born into more fortunate circumstances.  Much more fortunate circumstances.  

"Are you Capri's Dad" he asked.  

*Sigh*. "Yes, I guess that's what I'm relegated to", I replied, defeated.

"I would really like to meet her", he said, that familiar flame of intelligence burning brightly from his eyes.  I'd seen that somewhere before.  He was awesome.

"She really wants to meet you too, Kale", I said, "Let's make that happen".

Kale later stood outside the door of our meeting room, during his lunch hour, waiting to get an autograph (autograph???) from Capri after she finished singing with the senior students.  She was too busy but I told him I'd deliver it to his class personally after she was done.  I found him on his ipad in his class, studying quietly, later in the day.  He was thrilled with the card and signature.  A quick fist bump and I was off.

I wish a limitless future for that child.  He deserves it.  I won't forget him.  

Again, I tread lightly here.  I know nothing about either one of these kids.  They are a blip on the radar that is our 9 month trip.  But you guys get my drift, right?  

Our future leaders can come from anywhere. Any area. Any background. Any economic circumstance. But it would sure be nice if we could level the playing field for as many children as we can. That's what our 80 anthems journey is about. Raising awareness. Raising hope. And in these crazy times, maybe raising a bit of peace along the way. Hopefully, all rise. 

Flame. Kale. This one's for you.

*I would like to thank Cayman International School for the most incredible reception we have yet experienced.  From radio, to TV, to newsprint, our experience and coverage was wonderful. I met some incredible students and outstanding teachers at CIS.  If a global leader had to be picked out of that school, I'd like to think the earth would be in very, very good hands.  Thanks CIS & Kale.

And you, Flame.  I haven't forgotten you.  You can rule my planet any time, my man. 

Tom