Where to begin…let’s start with GN.
The last time we had seen GN was in February, earlier this year when left him at the Mother of Mercy Home for Babies. He was the start of what was still hypothetical, to our now…One Step In Faith 501c3 organization. He was one of the many proofs; God has a purpose and a plan. And, we had been carrying this little boy in our hearts, fighting for him from across the sea. We’ve shared his story, raised funds, and supported him in both basic needs and in medical needs. Our missionaries on the ground, Dave & Ellen Bartlett, have walked and talked with the family. They have been there in the waiting, in the travel, in the frustration, in the anxiousness, in the excitement, in the milestones, in the blessings, in it all. Returning this past September, we were anxious. There really isn’t another word for it. We didn’t know what to expect, we didn’t know what we would experience. We just knew God was calling us to return and we were counting the days until we arrived. Up until the return, Dave & Ellen had been keeping us updated with pictures and videos whenever possible. We really had been so blessed by their constant communication and allowing us to feel like we were right there, every step of the way through his surgery, recovery, and reintegration back home. Nothing was going to prepare us or them for what was unraveling. Prior to our arrival, Dave & Ellen were in Accra & Kumasi for conferences and the much needed purchase of a vehicle. If you look at a map, they basically left the north and went to the south. J They were gone for a few weeks. Shortly before their departure, GN had contracted malaria, which they believed was on the mend, since he was released home before they left to Accra. During their time away, GN’s malaria either didn’t improve or reoccurred (not sure it matters which). Also during this time, GN’s biological mother returned from Kumasi to her parent’s home (where GN was living) to deliver her baby. That is right, she was pregnant. Dave & Ellen only arrived back home in Bolga a couple days or so prior to our arrival in country. So, we all went to visit the family at the same time (our first time since February, and their first time since their trip south for a few weeks). In those few short weeks they were away, so much had happened, and his health had decreased so much. I’m not sure we will ever truly know the family’s intent, the day to day care he was receiving during those weeks, or even the overall cause. We have several opinions, we have several interpretations. In the end, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is the call God places in our hearts, and following through with the direction He gives. It had come to a point where GN’s family was not really able to provide the level of care he requires. They are farmers, and require laborious amounts of hours in the fields, working for every morsel on their plates. GN’s family, like most families in the North (and in several other areas throughout Ghana) has a very bleak belief of value in the life of a disabled child. Their opinion is not malicious, just based in decades of tradition surrounded by the reality of poverty and survival. In order to care for a disabled child, of GN’s condition, time and money is taken from the other needs. In their reality, a self-imposed caste type system is sort of established. In this case, the new baby, GN’s mother’s new baby, his new sibling, became the priority. The other healthy children of Grandma, became the priority. They didn’t abandon GN altogether, but they also didn’t provide the level of care necessary for a child who has undergone brain surgery this year and was continuing to battle malaria, after at least three weeks. And, they weren’t providing the level of care he had been getting when he was living in the Bartlett’s home, right after integration back into the family’s home, or even shortly before he contracted malaria and the new baby arrived. During our visit in September, it seemed GN’s external physical capabilities were not much different than when we saw him back in February. We had seen videos and pictures during the months since his surgery…all revealing improvement. Dave & Ellen had seen and experienced, albeit slow, but they saw and experienced progress. Even GN’s doctor had been excited in his improvements, again, slow but still progress. However, this perfect storm of events leading up to the September visit still happened and his progress had gone backwards.
We were all on our knees on this one. There were many details to be considered, relationship building, live and death of a child, and more importantly what was (and is) God’s desire for this circumstance. I can’t say we all handled the experience 100% perfectly. I can’t say we have made the perfect solution. But, I can say, we all love this boy…we want God’s will for this boy AND his family. So, after much prayer…advice from dear friends and those who’ve helped along the way in country, the decision was made to propose transferring custody of GN to those we are working with in country. With the approval of the chief, the head of the family, and GN’s grandfather, GN has been relocated from Bolgatanga to Kumasi. He is currently living with a friend of Eddie’s, who was with us when we first rescued him back in February. It has been about a month since he relocated to Kumasi, staying with Eddie/family prior to living with the new caretaker. And, we all agree he is doing great. There are many hurdles still before him, but is gaining weight, getting stronger and stronger. Since his relocation, he is sitting in a chair for his meals (for the first time), using a baby walker (well, he isn’t really “walking” but he is getting exposure to building leg strength), and his is now able to move across the floor on his stomach. He isn’t full out crawling on his hands/knees, but he is able to do what we would call an army crawl. Some of the bigger hurdles are sleeping through the night. GN was never really trained to sleep through the night, so his caretakers are working patiently to help him learn to be awake in the day and sleep at night. Also, he still is struggling to swallow. As he grows stronger, he will begin to improve. Dave & Ellen connected with the doctor to have GN’s medical information forwarded, so he would be able to have a follow-up appointment with a new neuro doctor in Kumasi. We are still pending these details. Once this is complete, GN will be assessed and hopefully next steps in his recovery plan can be determined. Please join us in prayer as we press forward in his care and in his journey. Also, please keep Dave & Ellen in your prayers as they continue to work with the village where GN is from, balancing this with his absence.
Hugs to you all…soon, an update on Baby Y, Brother A, Isaac & Ama.