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Flying Home via Kuwait

I left for New York City on Monday via a one day layover in Kuwait. Having been warned multiple times by Alia how tired I was going to be when I got back to the States, I devised a plan for getting over jetlag quickly. It consisted of staying up very late on the Friday and Saturday night before my flight, and then sleeping through most of the day. Essentially, I was attempting to change my sleep schedule to what it would be if I was already in the USA. Then, I would stay up all Sunday night until my 7 AM flight Monday morning, fall asleep on the plane, and continue to sleep for the rest of the trip.

The level of thought I’ve put into mitigating jetlag may seem a bit excessive, but I only have a couple days in New York and a week in Boston to get a lot of Emerge work done, and I really don’t want to be tired during that time.

But enough of my pre-flight scheming, how about the flight itself? The passengers on my plane to Kuwait can be broken up into two groups: Sri Lankan women going to Kuwait as maids, and travelers who are using Kuwait as a connection to some other destination. When I arrived at Bandaranaike Airport two days ago, I was startled by the number of young female Sri Lankans standing in the check-in line with little to no baggage. After closer inspection I realized that several of them were crying, a sobering beginning to my trip home.

As the plane began its descent into Kuwait, all I could see for miles was sand and desert, with huge oil and natural gas suppositories sprinkled throughout. I walked off the plane, past the McDonalds sign written in Arabic, towards the transit desk. It’s a law in Kuwait that airlines must provide accommodations for passengers with layovers over 8 hours. Because my layover was a full day I was whisked away to the Safir Airport Hotel, where my afternoon consisted of catching up on emails, writing part of this blog post, and trying to keep myself awake.

The next morning I went back to the Kuwait airport to board a 6.5 hour flight to London, followed by an 8 hour flight to New York. It would be untrue to describe the emotion I felt as we broke through the clouds yesterday night and I got my first glimpse of the New York skyline as anything but pure happiness. The past three months in Sri Lanka have been eye-opening, challenging, beautiful, and heartbreaking, and the emotional response I felt as I was landing came from the realization that I was about to have the opportunity to share all of that with the people I love, and the people who love and support our cause.

Until next time, Ellen

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