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Monday, January 27, 2014

My New Friend, Abel

Mary Kay writes:

I want to introduce you to a young man that I have just met.  His name is Sampana Abel, and he lives in Bolgatanga.  He completed Junior High School in June, and took his Basic School Certificate Examinations at that time.  These examinations are the culmination of primary and junior high school in Ghana, and your score on the BSCE determines whether you will go to high school or not.  Abel scored well enough in his exams to move on and received notification that he had a place at Bawku Technical High School. 
But Abel has had a difficult childhood.  His childhood home in the village was destroyed in a storm.  Six of his siblings have died at very young ages, leaving him with only a brother and a sister surviving.  His parents have suffered from poverty and illness and were homeless for some time.  Abel had nowhere to stay until a local woman took him in, in exchange for him working on her farm and around her house; the work was hard, and life was not easy.  Often Abel couldn’t go to school because he had to work.  Lately, though not an orphan, he has been living in an orphanage run by a friend of mine, Mama Laadi, outside of Bolgatanga.
In Ghana, secondary education is not free.  Most high schools are boarding schools, so in addition to tuition costs, money was needed for room and board.  By the time Abel was able to pull together enough money for his school fees at the end of October, school had already started.  When Abel showed up, the Headmaster told him that the class was full and there was no room for him.
Abel tried to get into other schools in the area, but they were all full.  A couple of schools would have been willing to take him into the freshman class, if Abel were willing to pay a bribe to make it worth the school administrator’s effort.  Of course, Abel barely had the money for school fees, so he couldn’t afford to pay any bribes on top of that.
While watching television one night, Abel and Mama Laadi saw  a program sponsored by the Methodist Church Ghana.  During the program, the show advertised the Methodist Education Unit and provided a phone number to call for more information about attending a Methodist School.  Abel called and asked about schools in the Upper East Region and the potential for assistance to impoverished students .  He was referred to his local Methodist minister, Very Rev. Samuel K. Bessa-Simons.
Very Rev. Bessa-Simons met with Mama Laadi and Abel and told him about the new Methodist Senior Technical School that will open in January in Sakote.  While the Sakote school does not have boarding facilities, it turns out that Sakote is Abel’s home village.  His parents are back living in Sakote, so he will have a place to live and go to school.  In fact, one of my photographs of women at the new boreholes in Sakote included Abel’s mother in it!
Abel wants to thank Living Word UMC and the friends he has never even met for providing such a great facility for his village.  He is excited about the opportunity to get an education and promises to work hard.  When I asked him what he wanted to be now that he will get an education, he didn’t know how to answer.  He said, “I never thought I would have the opportunity to get an education, so I never thought about what I could be.”  After some contemplation, though, he said he would like to become either a pastor or a teacher.
We may never know the number of lives we touch or the impact we have on others, but every once in a while, God gives us a glimpse of the difference we can make in one young man’s life!  Thank you, Living Word, for your love for Ghana and for making education available for young men and women like Abel.
"Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning, but a rod is for the back of one who has no sense  The wise store up knowledge, but the mouth of a fool  of a fool invites ruin."   Proverbs 10:13-14 (NIV)