LETTERS TO LORNA FROM LIBERIA, HOUR:120

Patrick James is a 23 year old professional Liberian soccer player in Monrovia. He has been invited to five different countries by five clubs after they heard about his talent. He is a star in his own nation, but has never had the cash to put up front for a plane ticket to get to international try outs. It costs $1,800 for airfare. “So, if you’re walking down the street in Monrovia, do people recognize you?” I ask him. “Of course!” He smiles and slaps my back in the shoe store. We’re buying 50 pairs of shoes for orphans. Not only is he a professional soccer player, he is a part time minister at Jubilee Church, and an inspiration to young Liberian men.

There is a sudden commotion outside as ten trucks drive by with bullhorns and blaring speakers. “That’s the opposition party. Tubman’s supporters,” Patrick says. We sit down on white plastic chairs as the men outside shout their support or opposition. Near the equator it’s hot. The shoe store is muggy, so we sit across from a single electric fan pointed in our direction.

“You know what we should do, my man?” (I learned a couple hours ago that “my man” is the local way of saying “bro”, so I put my cultural skills to use immediately.) “We should shoot a video, like a short commercial of you introducing yourself and your skills. Maybe that way we can get it into the hands of soccer managers. It’s the power of social media and the Internet!” But Patrick James isn’t really into the virtual lifestyle. “That’s why I can help you,” I reassure him. “Why don’t you come over to the hotel tomorrow morning and I will shoot a video of you.” He says he’ll be there, and tells me that he has soccer practice on Monday. I should come and shoot video of him in action. “The stadium in Monrovia can hold thirty thousand people.”

I am waiting for Patrick and his professional soccer player friend, Emmanuel, in the lobby at Royal Hotel. Before we go to Jubilee, we’ll get their story on camera. I’m not trying to make a star shine. I’m just trying to showing a shining star to the world.

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