Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Jethro with a visiting friend

Jethro is a Liberian who has been living in the Buduburam, Ghana, refugee camp for over 10 years. I met him soon after I arrived in February, 2004. He was friends with the founder of the deaf school that I was involved with and often came around to say “hi”. He had a gentle spirit about him and we gradually got to know each other. When he told me about his dream of going back to school to learn more about computers, I thought about it for awhile and decided to see how best to help in some way. Over time he told me more of his story; I asked if he’d write it down and allow me to share it with friends and family via email (my pre-blog era). I knew he was someone with integrity who would do well with the studies, and would also do well with what he learned. In response to his shared story one of my friends offered to sponsor his education.

About 6 months before Jethro graduated, I left the camp to help at another project across the country for a couple of years. We stayed in touch, and when I returned to the south of Ghana to help at Hope for Life, which has its base (Bethany House - I couldn't find where else I might have written about Bethany House) on the side of Accra heading towards the camp, Jethro came by for a visit one day. While talking, I explained that one thing we wanted to do was set up a computerized “database/records management system” with which we could establish, maintain and regularly update our records for the over 400 members of the project. After saying this, Jethro looked at me and said, “Steve, why don’t you ask me to do this? This is exactly what I studied.” He told me he wanted to do it for free, as a way to show his appreciation for the assistance he’d received and also to show me what he had learned.

While working on the database, he often stayed at our house (the project house, Bethany House, where I also lived). He got to know the Ghanaians who were involved with the project. He was part of our family. We all shared meals together; Jethro occasionally led the evening prayer; he was involved with life beyond the database. When his 2 year old son was hospitalized for over a month and needed blood, a couple of people from the house went to donate it. When his son was released, only to die a week later, the entire household wept for him and his family’s loss. Months later, when he and his wife were struggling with their relationship as a result of their loss, he opened up to me and asked my advice. About a year ago, I was going through an extremely hard time related to lack of funds and sickness; I was avoiding people in the house for fear of saying something I didn’t mean or want to say but was afraid my frustrations and stress at that moment would push out of me and I'd end up lashing out at innocent people I cared about. Jethro was the only one who, while sitting next to me in the office one day, had the courage to ask me if everything was alright. Of course, I snapped: "Everything's FINE!!". And, after a brief pause, ". . . but since you asked ..." and it gushed out of me. He let me open up to him, dump my frustrations, fears, anger, concerns all out there - - and then we just moved on, continued our work, and it was over.

Jethro had a dream. Thanks to donations and prayers from strangers who believe in the goodness of people, in achieving dreams, and in having trust and faith in God and humankind, Jethro has been able to realize his dream. Our confidence and faith in him was well placed and as valuable to building him up as his education was. Jethro is one of many beautiful examples of someone who has had faith and trust in God, has received support as a result of faith and trust we placed in him, and now continues to give back from his heart.

Like most people, he continues to dream - and as one dream is met, another is there. He applied to, was accepted and has already begun taking classes to get his BSc in IT. It will take 1 1/2 years - and maybe I set a bad example at one point (maybe a good one?) - but he has moved ahead on faith. He already had some funds available, but the full amount is not there. And yet, confidently, he's begun to work towards this dream, believing and trusting that the money he needs for the advanced course will come along as he needs it.

Jethro, enjoying some Ghanaian fufu at Bethany House


At 9:08 PM, Blogger MJ said...

I was so happy to see an update on him. I wondered what every became of him as I remember you had mentioned (a long time ago) what a hard time they were having after their son died. It's so good to see that he still has so much faith that things will work out so that he can accomplish his dream.

At 9:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Life is beautiful. Only when we make it happen! (lance)

At 3:45 PM, Anonymous Goedie said...

Have enjoyed numerous talks and discussions with Jethro. We both were questioning realities, looking at us, humans, what we do, how we react and what we can offer to the world to our best of possibilities.
Talks have always been a source of energy, of smile and happiness.
Jethro s life is an example of this.
From time to time we meet up on skype, our respective curiosities meet and create the New. Time and space has us apart, but in those moments, we are ONE humanity.
Thank you Jethro.

At 8:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Steve, Call me I'm going to Ghana on Friday 6 April and staying for 2 months. Will you be in country during that time? NAFofA


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