When you cheat death more than once, you do what really inspires you.
The cloud shapes mirrored the undulations of the waves formed by the grasslands.
By the plane window, Christian contemplated the landscape.
He could see the elephants carving a path through the savannah. The zebras galloped feverishly across the land because they were probably chased down by a pack of lions but it was hard to see the scenes well due to the altitude the plane was flying.
Christian was part of a delegation of South African diplomats who were trying to broker a peace agreement between the different parties involved in the civil war ravaging the country.
The occupants of the plane were quite nervous because they did not know what to expect once they landed.
Suddenly, the plane started to shake in a strange manner.
“What’s going on, it does not seem normal.” said Christian anxiously.
“It’s probably nothing” answered the man next to him.
But less than thirty seconds after, a thick smoke spread inside the cabin. There were ten people on board, including the pilot who made an announcement.
“Guys, the plane is experiencing an engine failure, we will have to make an emergency landing. Put you in the position I showed you before take off and brace yourself, it’s going to be rough!” said the pilot.
Christian could not believe it.
He thought about his wife and children.
Was it the end of his life?
The plane banked to the left rapidly. The pilot tried to maintain the balance but the ground was approaching at a fast pace. We could see the top of the trees.
A loud noise followed, the plane was upside down. The debris were flying everywhere inside the cabin.
For a couple of minutes, Christian passed out.
In his mind, a powerful light illuminated and surrounded his body.
A vision appeared.
A woman with clothes made of human bones was facing him, and she started to speak.
“I am the queen of the land of the dead. Are you ready to pass the test?” said the woman.
“What test? Asked Christian.
“It’s a test to know the weight of your soul.” said the woman.
“The weight of my soul? What do you mean?” asked Christian.
“I will put the bracelet of ages on your right wrist.
If you sink into the ground, it means that you are ready to be welcomed in the land of the dead, but if the bracelet disappears, you still have some work to do on earth. Your soul needs to complete its cycle to complete the purpose that the creator of all lives assigned to you when you were born.” said the woman.
Christian woke up from this vision.
He was fazed. He was upside down strapped into his chair, he could feel blood on his cheeks.
By miracle, nobody died when the plane crashed on the trees.
“It’s everybody OK?” shouted the pilot.
One by one, the passengers answered.
Some of them had broken legs but everybody managed to get out of the plane.
“Do you have an idea where we are?” asked Christian to the pilot.
“We were ten minutes away from a landing point.
I think if we go east following the sun we might be able to find a village” said the pilot.
He found the survival kit with the medical supplies to tend to the different wounds but some people needed more serious medical interventions.
The group decided to split in two.
Those who could walk would go to find help, and those who were more impaired would stay there.
They divided the food and water that was in the plane. They also had two revolvers. After all, they were in the middle of the wilderness.
The heat was excruciating. They could hear the roars of the Lions nearby.
Christian, the pilot and another man departed to find help. They walked in this arid land with difficulty breathing. Every two hours they tried to find a shaded area to rest. They walked the whole day.
They thought that they would never find a living soul.
Nearly before sunset, they found a village of shepherds. The pilot who was from the southern part of Angola spoke with them and explained to them the situation. By sheer luck, one of them had a motorcycle. Christian went with him to the closest town.
There was a very rudimentary dispensary.
Christian met Nadiara. She was the doctor.
She could speak perfectly in English. She had been trained in England.
Christian noticed that she had a beautiful Bracelet on her wrist. He explained to her what happened.
Nadiara told him she could help.
They picked up the pilot who stayed with the shepherds with the dispensary’s car, and they went to look for the crash site.
The pilot had an amazing photographic memory.
After roaming the area, they eventually found the wreckage.
Christian explained to Nadiara the purpose of his presence in this region, and that he was an envoy of the South African government who was trying to find a path to bring peace in Angola.
Nadiara could see that Christian was sincere even though he was a white South African.
She explained the atrocities which occurred in the town and the area recently. People were starving.
In some villages, hundred of bodies were left to rot in the sun.
This war was a terrible business.
Finally, the delegation of diplomats was evacuated to the capital Luanda.
After a quick recovery, Christian tried to restart the peace talks but the negotiations failed.
The war raged for years.
In South Africa, Christian continued to try to convince his bosses in Pretoria that it was in the country’s interest to find a solution to end this regional conflict.
Some nights, Christian had nightmares about the crash.
The queen of the land of the dead appeared to him.
“Put the bracelet on!.” said the queen.
He started to sink into the ground.
“Yes, you are ready, come to me my child!” said the queen laughing.
Christian woke up suddenly sweating profusely.
“You had a bad dream again. You are not the same since the accident. Maybe you should see someone.” said Christian’s wife.
“It’s OK, I’m fine. Go back to sleep.” said Christian
After four years, out of the blue, Christian received a letter in his office from Nadiara explaining that she needed his help because the war deteriorated in her region, and some warlords targeted the children in the villages to force the rebels to do something.
Many children had been displaced and put in camps because many of them became orphans.
They needed to be placed somewhere out the country to protect them.
Christian answered her that he would try to speak his superiors about it.
Unfortunately, despite all his efforts nothing moved for months.
Christian felt obligated to do all he could.
He harassed his bosses.
Finally, it was agreed that around two hundred children would be granted asylum if he could find families that would welcome them.
It took three months to do it, not only in South Africa but also in the United kingdom, United states of America.
But when he thought that the hardest was done, the operation was cancelled because it was deemed too dangerous due to the situation in Angola.
Christian was utterly depressed.
But after one week of ruminating to know what to do, Christian decided that he would do whatever it takes to achieve his mission.
He asked all his friends to donate money.
When his bosses heard that he wanted to go ahead regardless of the orders, they threatened to sack him. His wife supported him but she was worried about what could happen.
Christian went to Washington to give conferences about the situation in Angola, and he also helped to raise funds for the operation.
When they saw that Christian did not stop his efforts to rescue the children, he was fired from his job.
It did not deter him, with the money he had raised and the connections he had made during his career, Christian moved with his family to Washington.
He thought that would help him achieve his mission .
The atrocities escalated in Angola. The goal was to save at least one hundred children.
Meeting after meeting with high level officials and the CIA, Christian managed to convince them to do something.
An agreement was reached between the United States of America, the United Kingdom and south Africa to welcome two hundreds children refugees.
Christian set up a non profit organization to coordinate the efforts on the ground to achieve it.
When Christian tried to contact Nadiara to tell her the good news, he learned that she had been killed in her dispensary.
He was totally devastated, but in a way it gave him more motivation and urgency to help the children.
Christian went to Angola the following month.
For his safety, it had been decided to say that his organization was only there to distribute food to solve the famine crisis which plagued the region where he was supposed to find the orphans.
He had to go to the villages, refugee camps and orphanages.
But rapidly the word of mouth attracted more attention.
A squadron of mercenaries sent by a warlord tracked him down.
Four vehicles arrived, the men fired random shots to the building where Christian was.
He was always accompanied by three security guards who exchanged shots with the assailants. One of the guard was shot dead.
The two other guard fought valiantly, and the assailants retreated. It was more about intimidation.
Christian felt incredibly guilty because someone died as the result of his actions.
For a period, he wanted to abort the mission, but he decided that there was a reason if escaped death for a second time. He had to carry on.
He went with the two remaining guards to the orphanages and refugee camps to find the children.
Christian chartered a plane. But at the last minute, the plane was denied entry to go to South Africa due to recent developments.
Christian contacted his friends in the media world to explain the situation. The pressure mounted, and finally South Africa allowed the plane to take off.
It was only the beginning of the process because each adoption was a battle, it took two years to complete it.
Christian had to continually travel between South Africa, the United States of America and the United Kingdom on behalf of his organization.
His marriage suffered because he was rarely home. His wife accused him of loving more other children than his own.
Christian was constantly stressed, and to alleviate the burden, he started to drink more.
His health deteriorated.
He had moments of profound doubts.
He knew in his heart that it was the right thing to do but the cost was greater than he could have ever anticipated.
Finally, his wife decided to divorce him, between the arguments and his constant drunkenness, she had enough.
But despite these setbacks, he carried on with his non profit organization, and they saved more children.
During the divorce proceedings, one of his associates in the non profit organization embezzled money.
Christian was investigated by the police but was cleared of any wrongdoings.
This episode scared him, he had more difficulty trusting people.
From then on, Christian lived a solitary existence.
Thirty years went by after having rescued the children in Angola, when Christian received a phone call from movie producer who wanted to do a documentary about his life and the role he played to put the children in safety.
The producer told him that Nadiara’s daughter who miraculously survived the civil war wanted to see him.
The three of them met in Washington where Christian was still living. She thanked him for what he did for the children during the war.
She gave him a bracelet that her mother used to attract good luck.
When he looked at it, Christian started to cry.
The movie producer told him that he wanted to gather in amphitheatre many of the persons and their families he had contributed to save.
One month later, more than three hundred people waited for him to arrive.
When he entered in the amphitheatre, they started a standing ovation. He had not seen most them for thirty years.
Coming from a country which experienced apartheid, he was still moved when he saw that the children he contributed to save from the horrors of war married people from other races.
Some people flew from all over the world to thank him.
He touched the bracelet that Nadiara’s daughter gave him, and he shed tears of joy when looked at the faces around him.
“Now, Queen of the land of the dead, I am ready.” said Christian to himself smiling.