They are half–way home, and we can exhale some and declare, “Thitherto hath the Lord helped them.” As of 3:00 p.m. yesterday, Team Antigua Island Girls was located at 18.1 degrees N, 41.4 degrees W, and moving in a westerly direction at 2.4 knots. In the 24-hour period prior, they had travelled a total of 51 nautical miles and are currently in 13th place. They have another 1,149 nautical miles left to travel, and, based on their current speed and direction, they will arrive home on February 1 at 4:50 p.m.
We here at NEWSCO do not wish to prematurely contemplate their triumphant homecoming, because there is yet much sailing and rowing left. But we think we can join with the composer of AMAZING GRACE, Mr. John Newton, and declare a paraphrased rendering of that most well-known song, “Through many dangers toils and snares, our girls have already come / ‘Tis grace that brought them safe thus far / And grace will lead them home!” Our faith is unshakeable.
Ironically, Team Antigua Island Girls is not only retracing the steps of the 12.5 million Africans who involuntarily crossed the Atlantic, but they are crossing the very seas that the aforementioned John Newton travelled when he infamously participated in the forced transshipment of some of those very same Africans. Yes, John Newton, the captain of a slave ship cum Anglican cleric, participated in the gravest crime ever against humanity before his dramatic conversion. When thinking of God’s amazing grace, and His providential care and keeping, we cannot help but think of Newton – and his strange connection to Kevinia Francis, Junella King, Elvira Bell, Christal Clashing and Samara Emanuel; they of Team Antigua Island Girls and proud descendants of the Africans he once cruelly transported. More power to our girls and our African heritage!
While on the question of “power to the girls,” we ought not to forget the most worthy charity for which this historic effort is being undertaken. We are talking about the Cottage of Hope, a safe haven for girls who have been orphaned or been the victims of abuse, violence, neglect and other unwholesome circumstances. The charity is supported by good corporate citizens, ordinary Antiguans and Barbudans, and The Halo Foundation. In fact, the Foundation, under the inspired leadership of Lady Sandra Williams, the wife of our Governor General, His Excellency Sir Rodney Williams, recently staged a first-class musical extravaganza dubbed MUSIC FOR A CAUSE, where a substantial sum of money was raised for the Cottage of Hope. We certainly applaud this collaborative effort between Team Antigua and The Halo Foundation, and we urge our fellow citizens to emulate it. We further urge the citizenry to donate to the girls and the cause. It is a most noble effort.
What began as a 3,000-mile odyssey has now been narrowed down to a homestretch of less than half. May favourable winds and calm seas be the lot of our precious and intrepid Island Girls. They have captured our hearts and our imagination, and they will be forever in our fondest thoughts and most fervent prayers. We will be following and chronicling their progress every nautical mile of the way, and, of course, we will be on hand for the wild and raucous celebration when they disembark at the Dockyard. To Team Antigua Island Girls we say the words of the great hymn: “Glorious things of thee are spoken . . .” and will be spoken of thee many generations hence. All hail! Good grief! That hymn was composed by . . . you guessed it . . . the infamous-turned-famous John Newton – he of the earlier-mentioned classic, AMAZING GRACE!