Orphaned Orphans

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It has been 7 months since I was in Ghana. I will fill you in on some of the not-so-heartwarming details of my work at Adullam. I am also looking for a current link to Adullam, someone who can provide me with current news and feedback. If this is you, please email me.

Regarding current events there: I have no real news. I am in touch with Eric Gaetin, the boy who lost the use of his legs due to medical malpractice, whose father then pronounced him “cursed” and who kicked him out of his home and reduced him to begging in the streets to survive. Eric has received funding through various sources of mine for the last 6 months of his schooling – but the funding has run out, not due to lack of willing donators, but because there is simply no way to safely get the money to him, or to any of the orphans, for that matter. Because we are no longer physically present in Ghana, there is simply no way to get money to him without most or all of it getting lost along the way. I will confess, even the last funding we received for him thanks to the generosity of an American friend of mine who wishes to remain anonymous, by the time it reached Eric’s hands, it had been reduced from $250 USD to less than $150. There were various explanations provided for this, including Black Market “conversion fees”, but in any case, that money had gone directly from my husband’s hands to a pastor’s hands to Eric’s hands. With myself and my husband not present and with a more or less nonexistent functional infrastructure and corruption at every bend, trying to send funds to Adullam orphans in Ghana is a futile task, as far as I can tell.

You would think that creating a charity more or less overnight in a 3rd world country, with a very tight deadline for the fundraising and the Christmas caper involved, would prove to be a difficult task. Although I had spotty internet at best, no phone communication and limited time and resources, it proved exceedingly easy to generate international interest and support for my “Project Obruni Elf”, as we ended up calling it, and generous donations flowed in from many unexpected sources. The amount of support and goodwill and generosity generated by this project was extraordinary and heartwarming, and  a true testament of the basic goodness of humanity.

Truth told, the biggest challenge was ensuring that the funds raised actually made it to the orphans – and yes, also to some of the staff – in a tangible, meaningful and direct way. I did not share the gory details at the time because I didn’t want to speak ill of anyone on this forum, but I will tell you now: the founder of the orphanage had been using donations meant for the orphans for years to support her own drug addiction. She is gravely ill and not right in the head anymore. The staff at the orphanage had gone without any pay for over 10 months when I was there. Donations from other sources had been intercepted by her and used by her and never made it to the orphanage or the orphans.

In order to make sure the moneys I raised in excess of the donations used for the children’s Christmas gifts did not get intercepted or used by the orphanage’s founder, we had to get very clever and find one or two individuals whom we knew we could trust. We used a bank account that the founder did not monitor. I got it done, but it was not easy. I was also advised that any future contributions to the orphanage should be in material form such as medical supplies or food or clothing, etc., since the money would end up being used elsewhere for things its donators would have shuddered at.

I am saying this now, because based on the limited information I do have, I fear things have gotten worse since I left. I do not know any no effective way to enforce the law or fight corruption in Ghana. I met people who had not been paid by their employer in over 12 months, and whose employer was driving around in a brand-new BMW. They continued working for him in the hope that one day they would be compensated again. A thread of a hope, and all they had. There is no recourse for injustice there. The system is simply too corrupt. There are no advocates for justice that they can turn to. I could tell you stories about encounters I had with police and government officials trying to intimidate us into giving them large sums of money for no reason except that they expected it because it is their way. (We were more clever than they were and they never succeeded, so there!) It is what it is: a game that is played for short term gains which destroys any chance of creating true viability for anyone.

The people of Ghana are beautiful people. I have traveled extensively throughout the world and have never been treated with more generosity, open-heartedness and warmth than I was by the people of Ghana. Sadly, their system is so very broken, and most likely still founded, at least culturally, on the same premises as that evil institution known as slavery, so they have no recourse when things go wrong. And so, things tend to go terribly wrong, because there are no effective advocates for making sure things go right.

If there is anyone who reads this who has an opportunity to visit Adullam, I would be extremely interested to hear from you. The bright side of this coin is the children of Ghana. To this day, I remember them as the brightest, most clever, extroverted and interested children I have ever had an opportunity to interact with. They take care of each other and they are grateful for what they do have. They are eager to learn, they earnestly value their education, and they are filled with life and joy and hope for a bright future.

I want to know who is looking out for them. Who is their advocate? Who is working in their best interest, rather than for their own personal agenda? Tell me. I want to know.

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On Being a Woman

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Sandra (on right) with friendBEING A WOMAN OR WANTING TO BE A LADY

DOES NOT MEAN YOU HAVE TO LOSE YOUR INNOCENT APPROACH TO MEN

WE ARE YOUTHFUL AND REFRESHING ; YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL AND VERY SWEET

YOU ARE A WOMAN AND VERY SOFT AND IT WOULD BE A GREAT LOSS FOR YOU TO BE HARDENED

AND SOPHISTICATED TO THE WORDS OF MEN

BEING A WOMAN IS GREAT.

-By Sandra Amoah

The magic of the blogging universe — bringing people together

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Recently, I was contacted by someone who had stumbled upon this website as a result of a Google search for “Adullam Orphanage”. This person emailed me to let me know that she was very much enjoying the photos and stories being posted about the orphanage, as she had volunteered there some years back. She recognized many of the faces of the children and commented on how much they had grown since she had last seen them in person.  She also let me know that she had donated mattresses and sheets for the school 2 years back (a bit of a pity to see how quickly they deteriorated). Due to a car injury, she has been under doctor’s orders to not travel, so this blog became her window to seeing a place that she missed and that meant a lot to her.

About a week later, another person contacted me, who had also found this blog while looking for Adullam on the internet. She told me that she is in fact in the process of adopting a 7 year-old girl from the orphanage! She shared the girl’s name with me and I was able to find the girl and send some photos of her to her prospective new parents. It turns out that these photos were the first they had seen of their prospective daughter wearing girlie clothes! I was able to put a smile on someone’s face with the photos we took that day. What a treat to be able to do such a thing for someone so far away, who is bound by ties of love to Adullam.

I am currently out of the country so my posts will be less, but I do hope to continue the Kinky Foo-Foo project into the future. It is such a pleasure to work with children, as they are so very generous with their love and affection.

Settling accounts with Adullam

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Eric Gaetin from Adullam tells his story

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Eric Gaetin

Editor’s note: My husband and I met Eric at the Adullam Orphanage in Obuasi, Ghana. Eric used to live at Adullam and is one of numerous older kids who rely on the orphanage’s financial support as they are “re-integrated” into society. He is currently attending Senior Technical High School, which around here basically comes in the form of a boarding school. Kids such as Eric take their education very seriously, because they know it’s their best hope out of the vicious cycle of poverty and despair that they were born into and struggling to get out of.

Both my husband and I were both very impressed with Eric. He is one of those people that you just feel somehow calm around. My husband told me later that Eric had told him a little bit about how he had come to needing crutches to get around. Later that day, I was able to make get a brief but poignant life story from Eric via text messages from a borrowed cell phone. Here it is:

“I was born on 14/12/1992 and when got 12 years I got sick and I was taken to the hospitel and the doctor ingected me on the wrong place and I have been like this for 7 years.

I was once taken to a hospitel and we had operation. The doctor told us to came on the year so he [could] do for me to be who I am but when we came back my father was sacked from the conpany he was working for so he had no money to take care of me again.

I became a beger when my father say because of me he lost his job because he think I am cursed so he was not going to take care of me agaen [anymore]. So one day I was beging and I met the owner of the orphanage and I went to her 4 her 2 help me and she told she [would] help me 2 the orphanage.

I need your help in my education if only u or u can get someone to pay my school fees for me I will always pray 4 u. god

I’m in high school so I need to pay my school fees* and my mother has no money because she work to take care of the rest.** I don’t live with my mother I’m with a friend. And for dreams I want to be a produser in music.”

-Eric Gaetin

* Eric’s quarterly school fees are 400 GHS ($244 USD)

** Eric’s mother works at a palm oil processing plant. This is considered to be some of the worst work of all in Ghana. It’s back-breaking labor under deplorable conditions, which is done almost exclusively by women. I imagine the laborers must all have respiratory problems from the constant oily smoke they inhale. The day wage for these laborers is about 5 GHS ($3 USD), which is pathetic even by Ghanaian economic standards.

Although at the moment Eric is primarily concerned with staying in school, he has shared with me that there is also a surgery that can revert his atrophied leg condition and make it possible for him to walk without crutches again.

If you would like to help Eric and other kids like him, contact me directly at kinkyfoofoo@gmail.com.

Palm oil production site

Project Obruni Elf, Day II

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