Well, it seems all that was needed to get the ball rolling for George was a quick email! There are a few NGO’s in Ghana (an NGO is sort of like what a non-profit is here in the U.S.) who are able to administer the investigative reports for social welfare, which is what was needed to figure out how we can best assist George. The hard part seems to be logistics. Asikuma is in the Eastern region of Ghana, and none of the NGO’s that we have connections with operate near the area. It is literally a full day’s committment for one of the social workers to travel to Asikuma to complete the report, which includes interviewing family members, neighbors, and collecting details of the child’s history, current situation, etc. Setting aside an entire day to do this takes much planning on the part of the social workers. These are the workers who are also at the same time compiling documents for adoption court, representing cases at court appointments, running here and there to check up on children already in their programs, hosting families and organizations of aid from the U.S., completing Embassy appointments, directing humanitarian efforts, and the list goes on and ON! There is always also the concern that they will set aside the day to complete the investigation, only to travel to the village and to not be able to locate the child!
With George’s situation I had given details/directions to one NGO after our March trip, but it turned out that the social worker was not going to be in the Asikuma area any time soon. Once I figured that out a few weeks ago through some email communication we switched George’s case into the hands of a different NGO. And praise God, that social worker just completed the investigation on George a few days ago! I woke up Monday morning to an email from ‘K’, our Kingdom Cares International in-country staff member who lives in Asikuma. I had asked ‘K’ to meet the NGO’s social worker, ‘J’, when he came to Asikuma in the hopes that between the two of them they could locate George. K’s email from Monday:
Hello Janel :D,
Glory, honor and adoration to He that lives forever! We have found George and his small family:D! Just that his head is shaved and he is now looking much younger, hahahaha! ‘J’ just left Asikuma and I'm walking to the school now again. Before ‘J’ came, I prayed to God to make things easy for me to find George. The holy spirit directed me to the school, where I let some few kids see George's picture you've sent me. Without hesitation, volunteers just came out to send me to George's house, which we found without much problem:).
George's biological father fortunately came last week and the family was having its breakfast when I got there. Thus when ‘J’ met me few hours later under the cellphone tower, we just went straight to the house! God is so wonderful! Brief, the mission is accomplished with the everhelping hands of God. Think ‘J’ would soon mail you on his report. Warmest regards to all.
Yep, confirmation #2 that the Lord’s hand was indeed ready and waiting to act on George's behalf! I was so thankful that they were able to find him, and with these few details from K, I was curious as to what J would make of George’s situation. K also included these sweet little pictures of George – he does look different with his hair freshly shaven! I felt like he was looking much better than when I met him in March….
K led me to the house and i met with George’s biological father and maternal grandmother. the father was married to the child's mother and they had three children. he is a farmer. he travels a lot to other villages to do farming. the wife died at home while delivering thier fourth child. their eldest daughter who is eleven lives with her parternal grandmother. she helps her in her daily chores. she does not attend school. the second daughter (Ruth 7) who lives with them in Asikuma was withdrawn from school to cater for the little boy (George) when they are away. Ruth attends a public school and does not pay so much of school fees. they took George to a public school but he was turned away because he was too little. they could not afford to pay the fees at the only private school in the community that was ready to admit George. they then made the decision to withdraw Ruth from school to cater for George. the father and grandmother go to farm each day and return at nite (6pm). all their neighbours do the same so really there is no one they can live the child with.
when i asked of the level of assistance they may require they said they wanted someone to pay for the fees for George to attend the private school and possibly Ruth to be with him in the same school so that after school is over they could walk home together. they are also open to the children staying with a foster family be it relative or none relative. they however will not consider adoption. they will give the child out to anybody on guarantee that the child will come back to them someday but to not have that right is something they cannot consider.
Do you not just get all choked up as those details sink in? I was so thankful that George’s father was around, and doing what he could to provide for his family – that is so not the norm here. But yet, so hard to swallow that Ruth, a 7 year old, is George’s caretaker all day long…..and that having that role inevitably took her out of school. I had originally figured that was the case and that was one of the pieces that had drawn my attention to George in the first place. When I first saw him back in March, he was being carried around by this tiny big sister – and they had matching dresses on. She had placed him under the shade of a tree so that he could rest, and she could run and play with our bubbles.
At the outset, it seems that sponsorship is going to be the answer to this one. This is a family who we can help to stay together – family preservation. Adoption isn’t always the answer. For some time now I have had it in my heart to figure out how to start a sponsorship program. I believe the Lord has led me to George and his family in order to teach me how to get this started.
We’ve started a sort of sponsorship for Yaa and Adjoa as well. On our March trip Jake met with a school master at one of the private schools in Asikuma and said that we would like to cover Yaa’s school fees. It was pretty easy to set up, and now Yaa gets to go to school (and she looks stinkin CUTE in her little school uniform, let me tell ya!). We can set up the same thing with George and Ruth. It seems that the best way to go about this will be for us to personally meet with George and his family, decide on a school that they can both attend, and then set up payment with the school master. Jake can easily do this on his upcoming trip to file the I-600 form for our adoption. From there it will be easy for us to check up on George and his family with our frequent trips to Asikuma, and also with the aid of K, our in-country staff member. Once we figure out these details, I think I will open up George’s sponsorship to all of you! Perhaps your family would like to be the one to sponsor George and his family! I can also see that this could be something where George’s sponsor family could send over a back pack of school supplies, toiletries, a few clothes, etc and we could hand-deliver them to George on our trips. WOW! I can see how this could work, I just need to coordinate the details. Will be exciting to watch how God leads and instructs things from here…..I’ll keep you updated as it continues to unfold!
[George with his Dad, grandmother, and social worker outside of George's house]