Work to Ride’s 2009 Africa Trip: In Drea’s Words

2009 Team From Left: Kareem Rosser, Daymar Rosser, Drea Taylor

2009 Team From Left: Kareem Rosser, Daymar Rosser, Drea Taylor

Drea Taylor, 15, WTR participant since 2006, traveled to Nigeria this spring with the WTR polo team.  In his own words, this is the story of his trip:

5-24-09 was the big day of my life. It was the day that I left to go to Africa. I was very excited to go. I was thinking about the trip since I found out I was going. I went with Daymar and Kareem Rosser, Richard Prather and Lezlie Hiner. Daymar and Kareem are my team mates. We are like brothers. Actually Daymar and Kareem are brothers. Lezlie Hiner is my coach and Richard Prather is my mentor.

Let’s get back to the story. The day we were suppose to leave Daymar and I went for a jog so we could be tired when we get on the air plane. The workout worked too. We were knocked out on the plane. The flight was six and a half hours. When I woke up on the plane I watched a couple of movies. Each seat on the plane had a built in T.V. I watched Hotel for Dogs and Taken. They were good movies.

When we finally arrived in London Heathrow we met up with other polo players. As we all got together we met a group of kids from London that ride horses and has lunch together. The program that they are in is similar to Work to Ride. They were really cool kids. After lunch we went for a walking tour around parts of London. I must say it was very unique to see the things we seen.

Later that day we went back to the airport to check back in for our final flight. When we got on the flight we found out that one of the engines were broke so we had a delay. The delay was two hours and it seemed way longer than that. Everyone was happy when they heard the god news. The good news was that the British Airways people found a plane that we could use. As we were preparing for take off I fell asleep. When I woke up we had two hours left so I watched the Simpsons.

The landing of the plane was a little hard. The first minute I got off of the plane it was very stinky. It was the worst smell I ever smelled. We got our bags than met up with the drivers. We packed the car and made or way to a little city called Kaduna. It was a very crowded city. It was very poor and I didn’t want to see anymore of it. I realized how grateful I am.

Stay tuned for more installments of Drea’s life-changing trip!

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More Greetings from a World Away….

Work to Ride’s 2008 Trip to Africa, Pt. 2:

May 31st, 2008

Greetings from a world away; not just any world, but a third world country away. You see, poor life as we know it in America is not the same poor. Our poor is rich and wealthy beyond our own knowing. It would seem that we have landed in a commercial that you might see on TV asking for just 25 cents a day to save children. But this is real.

Upon our arrival in Abuja we could see things were different, but we could not put our finger on it right away. As we moved through the airport to the van that was waiting for us, the kids started complaining about the smell of body odor from the locals. These experiences were very new to me as well but I was too busy making sure our passports did not just disappear. People were passing our passports around like it was free cheap candy.

Kids in Nigeria

But my eyes, like an F-16, kept a lock on all of them. Once outside the airport I met Terry and her film crew. We would get to know her all to well over the course of the trip.

There was also a language in our ears that we had no knowledge of. But the kids (or the film crew?) must have liked what they were seeing because they started to laugh. We kind of laughed too, but we had no idea what was so funny. All bags were packed into the two white vans and a green pickup truck. It was about 5:30am. As the sun was winning the battle over darkness, I could see things here would no doubt change my perspective on life forever.

The people as they walked everywhere gazed at us. Why were we something to look at? It was not light enough for them to see us clearly. I would learn it was because we were in a new vehicle and had to be somebody.

This appeared to be a place for the poorest of poor. Black smoke ran out of every car and motorbike. The stores were such that I could not recognize them at all. Motorbikes were all over the place. Everything was green, and I knew that it must be the rainy season.

The language of Nigeria is Hausa and the money is Naira. The air around us had a very distinct smell. The people there walk for miles to work. There are no real buildings to speak of. There are many people that look very rough in the face from years of sun and lack of nutrition. At times they seem unapproachable. This might be similar to the look of us in the states in our poor places.

At the club we met the horses. They were good looking Argentine and Sudanese horses, and the club was very nice. But everyone here treats me well only because I am American, or so I am told. There appears to be only rich and poor, no middle class to speak of. The animals run wild, like chickens and goats and white cows with tall curved horns.

The view out our window on the trip to see the Emir.

As I write, we are on a three hour ride to Kastina, Nigeria to meat the Emir. The landscape is changing from flat land to scattered trees and shrubs with very large boulders. Vegetable and fruit are all along the road side for sale, mostly mangos and bananas.

By Richard Prather

Coming soon: more on Work to Ride’s 2008 trip!

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Greetings from a World Away

In May/June 2008, several members of the Work to Ride polo team travelled to Nigeria, Africa to compete in the Access Bank Emir of Katsina Charity Shield Polo Tournament. Richard Prather, a WTR alum and mentor, travelled with them. Here is the first installment of Richard’s experience, one which he and the Work to Ride kids will never forget.

Part One: The Journey Begins…..

By Richard Prather

The Work to Ride team was leaving for Nigeria to represent the United States of America in the UNICEF Charity Polo Tournament. That is so cool to me. The simple fact that we are the only and first African American polo team in the whole United States of America is mind blowing. The first step was the flight to London.

Kareem Rosser, Kevin Jones, Richard Prather, Brandon Rease, and Tasha Harris represented the US and Work to Ride in Nigeria this summer.

From top left: Kareem Rosser, Kevin Jones, Richard Prather, Brandon Rease, and Tasha Harris represented the US and Work to Ride in Nigeria this summer.


Once on board Kevin was having some problems deciding what seat belonged to him. He wanted the window seat but his ticket was not letting him have his way, and Kareem made sure of that.  Kareem and Kevin were having a bit of a teeth showing battle as we were boarding the flight. Needless to say Kareem won that battle. And Lez could see what was happing however she was not in any position to intervene. LOL!!! Moreover, neither could I!  We both just had to let them figure it out for themselves. 

Kareem always has a way of making people seem dumb. Kevin eventually gave in, but not before Kareem had a good laugh out loud making his victory that much sweeter. I could see from the look on Tasha’s face as we made eye contact, we both knew this was going to be a long flight. As things settled, everyone was into their movies. Except for me, I was the only one seated a row away from the rest of the group.

 At first I was upset, not to be sitting alone, but because I wanted to be by the rest of the kids. This was their first flight out of the country, and because I had done this so many times before, I wanted to be there to answer their questions. However, I had a great conversation with a woman who was surviving cancer.  She looked like the typical chemotherapy patient with a cloth that covered her missing hair. But despite her sad story, she was quite pleasant to talk to. Still, I eventually found a nice way to break away from her, so I too could watch some movies.

About two hours into it, our flight hit some turbulence. I looked to see what Kevin was doing. He was looking at me saying “oh my god” like five times LOL. I normally would get concerned when there is turbulence, but for whatever reason I was just fine.  It may have been because I wanted to be tough in the eyes of the children. Kareem was laughing at Kevin, Brandon was just looking around with big eyes, maybe to see what we were doing to deal with the turbulence. He came up with his own conclusions about the shaking of the plane. I could not see Tasha. Uche and Lezlie were directly behind me where they were just fine with the tremors of the plane.

Somewhere along the line I fell asleep and woke up to the pilot telling us we had about 20 minutes until landing. All the kids were still asleep. And I remembered we had to fill out the immigration cards. Knowing the kids did not know anything about the cards, I had to wake them up to get it done. Much to my surprise, they were very cooperative.   In fact they were all into it, and wanting to ask what all the different terms meant.

I was usually on the kids’ backs about what will happen if they did not comply with other country’s rules when in travel, so I was given the nickname Mr. Responsible by Kareem Rosser himself. And everyone thought that was such a good name for me that I heard it every time I tried to let a possible danger be known. “Ok Mr. R” the kids would say. 

This was my third time in London, so I was not worried. We had such a good time and I made sure that we went to see all the big sights. We were met by Sara who had all kinds of video equipment to film us with. She showed us around and suggested a great place to have lunch. It was a very typical place to eat in London. A very small narrow place we all had to cram our way into, and it did not have a bathroom.  So unbeknownst to me, Kevin and Kareem went looking for a bathroom outside the restaurant. About 20 minutes had passed and no sign of them. No one else seemed to be as worried. I, however, could not sit any longer.

... with predictable results.

Kevin, the Picky Eater had his first of many scary food experiences in London. More to come!

I walked out looking for them. As I came back down one of the streets, I could see them on there way back to the restaurant. I was hoping to intercept them but they had reached the place before I did. When I could talk to them, all they wanted to tell me was how gay everybody was. They explained to me how there were only guys walking around together talking, walking and sitting in the park. They had not realized that they were in the gay district of London. I found it quite ironic that they did not realize they too were two guys walking together. I had a good laugh.

I noticed that Kevin was having yet another disappointment, this time with his food. Poor Kevin, reality was now settling in on him.  He now knew that he could not obtain a Philly cheesesteak. We all had a good laugh about that one. But Lez knew that she was paying pounds and started to get upset as Kevin became pretty adamant about not eating the food. I had some room left in me so I helped Kevin eat the “wannabe” bacon and egg sandwich. By this time we were ready for the next six hour plane ride.

My level of comfort went right out the window when we arrived in Abuja, Nigeria. 

Next Installment: Arrival in Africa!

 

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Our Barn Mascot

The Chamounix mascot

The Chamounix Mascot Extraordinaire

Those of you that have been through our barn know that we have more than just horses and kids. Dogs, cats, roosters, even a rabbit grace our corridors. But we really only have one barn mascot, and his name is Yoda.

Yoda came to us about a year ago from our vet, Cindy Balzer, of the Girard Vet Clinic. He was found roaming around North Philly. When he first walked into the barn, he was a small, skinny thing, a “mini-goat.” He may not have gotten taller, but he sure has gotten wider.

He has served many purposes in our barn. He shows us that even a little, wide goat can hop up on lots of tall things, especially when there’s any type of food involved. He befriended a loyal companion, the horse Showtime, and kept him company during stall rest for a leg injury. Finally, he has taught us the valuable life lesson: when in doubt, headbutt it and see what happens.

Through it all, he has shown us that even a goat can be a dog if he really wants to. So stop by sometime, and ask to meet Yoda. You will undoubtedly get a grin, rolling eyes, and the chance to make a unique and mischievous friend.

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WTR Boys Have A Blast at the Eastern Interscholastic Polo Tournament

boys-sweatshirts.jpgHey everyone! This is Tasha here and I just wanted to tell you guys about the boyʼs interscholastic tournament and how much fun I had. Before we got on the road to Virginia, Lezlie and I went to have breakfast at a nice little coffee shop in Wayne, PA, while we waited for Kareem to get done with his celebrity breakfast! I had a nice time eating breakfast with Lez. So after about an hour or so, we went back to VF to pick up Kareem and hit the road. Brandon, Kevin and Gerb were already on their way down to Charlottesville with the rest of the VF team. The ride took about five hours, but it would have felt longer if I didnʼt have my mp3 player to listen to, lol.

When we arrived at the arena, there were a lot of teams there that were all ready to play. We all watched the first games together, because Cowtown and VF werenʼt playing until Friday. All of the games were interesting and fun to watch. Of course, watching the games with the boys makes everything ten times funnier! After all of the games were over, we all went back to the hotel and checked in.  About twenty minutes into entering the hotel, the boys were already heading down to the pool. I went down to the pool with Kevin to watch the boys swim and act a fool! The whole time I was down there, I was hoping that I wouldnʼt have to save anybody, but the water wasnʼt that deep! Lol.  While we were down there, the older boys (VF team) tried and failed at throwing Kevin into the pool. It was pretty funny.

So, without stretching this out too much, Cowtown won their first game against Garrison and VF won their first game also on Friday. They were both exciting games! Then on Saturday Cowtown, unfortunately, lost their second game to Brandywine by two points. But they gave it their all and played really well. The VF boys won their second game and went to the finals on Sunday against Brandywine; hoping to take home a win! VF lost to Brandywine by one point, but played hard.

So, to sum it all up, we all had A LOT of fun! At least I did. Our time at the hotel was fun accept for the fact that we almost got kicked out about three times, lol. And Iʼve got to say, the boyʼs interscholastic tournament was nothing compared to the girlʼs tournament! We kicked butt! No, but they were awesome and I had a great time. Iʼm looking forward to seeing a trophy from the Nationals next year at Chamounix Stables!!! Go Cowtown!!!!

–by Tasha Harris, Working to Ride since 2003

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Kevin Jones of WTR becomes a cadet at Valley Forge Military Academy

kevin-cropped3.jpg

Seventeen year-old Kevin Jones is now a cadet with D-Troop at Valley Forge Military Academy. Kevin has been a member of Work to Ride since 2006. He decided in January 2008 that he wanted to attend Valley Forge along with fellow Work to Rider Kareem Rosser.

With a combined effort from Kevin, his mother, WTR staff, and benefactor Tim Cheromka, Kevin has completed his orientation period and is now a full-fledged 11th grader. He is having a great time, and all of us at Work to Ride wish him the best in his new life at Valley Forge!

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Hello world!

Welcome to Work to Ride’s weblog! Here we will post updates on the polo team, the Saturday and Sunday kids, links of interest, videos, photos, and anything else that we feel like posting. Be sure to check back often, and also check our website, www.worktoride.net. Thanks for looking!

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