Tuesday, April 10, 2012

George

Yes, I’m still blogging about our trip! :)

Journal excerpt from our last day in Asikuma:

We got back into Asikuma from Larteh by dark last night. I took my time this morning and allowed myself to sleep in until 8am and it felt so refreshing. Because of that, everyone else was ready to go before me. Jake, JJ & Justice decided to get a head start and went down to the schoolyard to check on the electricity project. By the time I was dressed and ready I walked outside to catch the tail end of breakfast and found that everyone else in our group had already gone off somewhere as well. That’s when I realized that I was going to have some precious time alone this morning, and God had already laid on my heart what I should do with it. I knew I was supposed to just walk through the village housing and as Jake always says ‘see who God would put in my path’. Immediately my mind landed on a starting point. The little boy who I had sat with for awhile on our first day in Asikuma – the one who the Holy Spirit told me needed to be comforted and held that day –

I decided that I would try to go and find him and see what his story was. I set out towards the area that I had found him in near Yaa and Adjoa’s house, all the while praying that God would make my day purposeful. As I approached the spot a group of kids and a few adults were sitting around under a hut. Upon taking notice of me the kids came up and asked curiously where I was going. I told them I was looking for a ‘small boy’ that I had met a few days ago in this area. The kids chattered together for a minute and then Mabel [who is actually the older girl to my left in the picture above] asked me for more details - his age, about how tall he was, etc. I explained to her that he had seemed sick and tired that day and I tried to recall more details about him. At that moment I realized that I should have brought my camera to show her the picture of him, but since that camera’s memory space was full I had left it at the hotel and brought a different one. After a little more chattering amongst the children Mabel looked at me and confidently said, “I know who you are looking for – I’ll take you to his house.” Well alright then! Perfect! And off we walked.

As we made our way to his house Mabel turned to me and said, “His name is George.”

“Oh, George, ok,” I replied. Since it seemed like Mabel knew some details about him I then asked the question that had led me to look for him in the first place, “Who cares for George?”

She replied, “He has two sisters.”

Hmmmmm….that was an interesting answer. Maybe she didn’t understand what I meant. So I asked again, “Who takes care of him? Does he have a mother and father?”

“George’s mother is dead,” she answered.

The way she said it so quickly, without even needing to think about it sent her words repeating like an echo over and over in my head. Right then it was confirmed in my heart that God must have planted this inkling inside of me to go and look for him this morning. He clearly had something to say about his situation and I think He just said it. With that answer, I didn’t even need to ask again about the father. Another sad reality here is that fathers are just gone. Usually if they aren’t in the picture then there is no mention of them, and it is assumed that they aren’t coming back.

After just a few minutes we approached a little mud hut. Mabel pointed to it and said, “This is where George lives.” Some of the kids that had followed us ran into the hut to bring George out, and much to my surprise, out came this sweet little boy who had also caught my attention that first day….

This wasn’t the little boy that I had held and comforted that first day; rather, this was the little boy who I had taken one look at and just felt in my heart that he was really suffering (and for some reason was prompted to take his picture that day too). Although this was not the ‘small boy’ I had set out looking for this morning, I knew that God was speaking and had brought this other boy up again for a reason. In fact, by the time I had processed all of these thoughts Mabel had taken George’s hand and brought him up to me and said, “This is him.” Her words were like more confirmation that God didn’t get it wrong, this is who He wanted to lead me to today.

A few other children came out from inside the home and among them I was introduced to George’s two sisters - Ruth and Josephine - who were probably about 7 and 5 years old. Within about 30 seconds of this there was a whirlwind of commotion as the neighbors caught sight of the white lady right smack in the middle of the huts. Pretty soon a circle of about 20 children had surrounded me, in addition to some adults who were out selling that had decided to come over and see what all the ruckus was about. Since I was now around George’s neighbors I decided to ask my question again to see if I got the same answer. “Who takes care of George and his sisters? Who gives them food?” Everyone started chattering with each other as my question was translated, and then pretty soon one of the children pointed to a neighboring hut. Mabel had set herself up as my communicator by this point so she translated for me that the neighbors were saying that the woman who lives next to George and his sisters takes care of them. I wanted to be sure that I understood everything right so I said again, “Does George have a mother?” More translating and then plain as day, for the second time in the last 5 minutes I heard the reply, “No. George’s mother is dead,” this time coming from one of the older neighborhood children.

At this point one of the older women who had become part of the crowd had walked over to her house and come back with a little stool which she had kindly brought for me to sit on. So, I sat down and had about 20 pairs of eyes curiously wondering what I was going to do next. This is when it comes in handy to have a stash of things in your backpack! I ended up deciding to first hand out food but had to tell all the kids to “shhhhhh….” so that we wouldn’t attract a mob. They seemed to understand and quietly I was able to give each of them a pb & j cracker sandwich and they all smiled and ate them up. Then I brought out some books and read to them while they eagerly took in all the pictures and pointed to the animals and objects that they knew. As the crowd sort of caved in around me little George started getting smushed and trampled on so he ended up getting the front and center spot right on my lap. Some other women joined the crowd and I heard some chattering. Then Mabel got my attention and pointed to one of the women who had come along. She said this was the neighbor who was taking care of George and his sisters. I started to connect the dots in my mind and realized this was one of those situations that I had heard about when we first started our Ghana adoption journey. The slogan we had heard was that ‘there are no orphans (in Ghana)’ because it is said that the communities/villages will absorb orphans into their care. It sounds nice, but clearly from the sight of George he is really suffering. I don’t know every detail of his situation and whether or not this neighbor is related to George and his siblings or not. But my heart can’t help but want to educate this community that there are other options to help orphans. If orphans are only ‘absorbed’ because of a sense of obligation and duty, when in fact the caretaker has no desire or means to provide for another child, then the children are going to get less than adequate care and love. I have no doubt in my mind this is what is going on with George and his siblings, and why God decided to lead me back to him today on our last day here. In fact, I’ve started getting that same ‘buggy’ feeling from the Holy Spirit that I got when I met Christian. Something is not right. Look into this.

I spent about an hour outside of George’s house playing with him and his neighbors. We of course got the wand bubbles out, which was a blast. I also found an inch of time to escape the crowd a bit and tried to give George some extra attention, held him on my lap, and talked with him. Eventually I said my goodbyes, knowing that I had received the information that I believe God sent me out for this morning. As Mabel and I set out to walk to the schoolyard some of George’s neighbors followed us. I began going back over the details of George’s situation out loud with Mabel to confirm that I had gotten everything straight, and had heard all the translations right. As we talked and walked another young girl had come up next to us and joined our conversation. And as if I needed any more assurance of the echo still stuck in my mind, this young girl settled it with the same sentence that I would now hear for the 3rd time from a different child, “Yes, George’s mother is dead.”

***

Since this day I’ve taken the only next step that I know how to take. I’ve notified Chief Nana as well as Kofi so that the proper social investigation can be done in this situation. I believe God’s hand is all over this, and I wait in eager anticipation to watch what He will do from here….