Thursday, July 19, 2012

An Angel in the Guise of a New York City Cabbie

I had every intention of jumping aboard the M104 bus that pulled up just outside of the Duane Reade on Broadway, between 75th and 76th Street but instead, I found myself running out into the street, waving my right arm, already burdened down with bags, and shouting, "Wait! Wait! Cabbie!" at a taxi careening uptown.

My workday had begun early and ended late. En route to the gym on my way back home, I stopped by My Most Favorite Food on W72nd Street to visit SOBB*, who was having dinner with her future daughter-in-law and the girl's mother. Later, as I was leaving the gym just after 9 p.m. -- amazed that I managed a 45-minute workout -- HOBB* texted me with an urgent request to pick up dog food.

"Alfie is STARVING!" his message read, prompting me to ponder whether I ought to run over to the Trader Joe's on 72nd, to Fairway a few block south or just stick with the overpriced and limited dog food offerings at Duane Reade, just around the corner from the JCC.

Dressed in my sweaty gym attire, wet hair plastered to my neck and the sides of my face, weighed down with my laptop, ipad, pocketbook, gym bag and work satchel, I swept into the Duane Reade, grabbed a couple of dog food cans off the shelf and flew out the door. A bus was waiting patiently for me to board, but I ran for the cab instead. Spotting me, the driver instantly pulled to the curb and a passenger popped out. Sliding into the backseat, I arranged my bags on my lap and panted out my address.

"Your landlord is Columbia University?" the driver asked in a softly lilting African voice.

"Yes," I replied and we were off and running.

I am an easy talker (aka a yenta) who makes new acquaintances simply by the act of leaving my apartment. I have dear friends whom I first met on planes, trains and inside locker rooms. I am often detained en route to an event or appointment by conversations with complete strangers. I typically return home with stories about the interesting people I met that day, complete with intricate and often intimate details about their lives. My family is accustomed to rolling its collective eyes at me.

As we drove uptown, I learned that the gentle man who was delivering me to my home was Kwasi Wuli, a native of Ghana. The father of six and grandfather of 10, he was a founder and supporter of M.A.G.I.C.E.F. -- the Mafi-Atitekpo Girl-Child Education Fund, whose motto is "Ignorance is more expensive than education."

A non-governmental agency that was started only three years ago, M.A.G.I.C.E.F. aspires to send as many village girls to school as possible. "Lifting up girls for better tomorrow through education" proclaims the business card Mr. Wuli handed me. You can find basic information here about his organization.

I will admit that while I initially felt guilty about paying for a taxi while a bus awaited me, I shortly felt touched by the spirit of serendipity, blessed to have made the acquaintance of Mr. Wuli. Haunted as I have been by the horror of the terrorist attack on Israeli tourists in Bulgaria, dismayed by the ubiquity of silly concerns and selfishness I see in the privileged society of young women in Manhattan -- women the same age as the ones whom M.A.G.I.C.E.F. assists -- disgusted by the political divide in America and the ugly rhetoric coming from the right, Mr. Wuli's taxi was a portal to a better place, a realm fueled by Tikkun Olam -- the imperative to make the world a better place.

"I paid my dues and I have been lucky. Now it is my time to bring about positive change," Kwasi Wuli told me.

I paid my fare and then a bit extra. Now it is my turn to bring about positive change for Mr. Wuli's organization...and as many like-minded initiatives as possible.

I hope you will support the work of a NYC cabbie from Ghana. To find out how to give to M.A.G.I.C.E.F. please email

*Husband of Bungalow Babe
**Sister of Bungalow Babe

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