[I don't know if anybody is still interested in the Travel Journal posts, but I apologize for not getting through them sooner. At this point I won't be through with the first set before I make another trip. Okay, maybe that's wishful thinking...]
If you've read this blog for a while you might remember that after my first trip to Ghana I was SUPER enthusiastic about a 15 year old boy I met at a market. His name is Hanan. I met Hanan in Accra, but he is from Tamale and wanted to go back home. I gave him money to go back home. We emailed--OFTEN. He called--OFTEN. I called--OFTEN. I was so impressed with this kid, who had a difficult life story and wanted so badly to finish school but didn't have the funds to do so.
Eric and I prayed about it, and decided that we would sponsor Hanan. We scrounged up enough money to pay for the 3 previous sessions he owed for, and the 2 sessions to get him from August to the first of the year. It was a sacrifice--a $600 sacrifice--but we believed in Hanan. I saw him as a son. I loved him.
Then everything got messed up. His mother was sick, or was she? She needed money to pay for hospital debt, or did she? Hanan used our money to pay for school, or did he? At the time we still had a decent relationship with our adoption agency and they had a contact in Tamale that said he would check on Hanan and his motives. Of course then we got a response from LVI's contact that Hanan was a complete scammer--had used the money for things other than school...his mom was never sick...etc.
I was heartbroken. I mean, cry myself to sleep heartbroken. And what made it worse was Hanan swearing to me that he had not misused the money and that LVI's contact was lying so that he could look honest to LVI. [Ironically, we now believe that LVI's contact was himself a scammer/lier of sorts. Who to believe?]
I tried to cut things off with Hanan. I didn't want to be betrayed again. Sending more money was out of the question, but I really struggled with completely cutting off the relationship. In the end I asked him to stop calling and writing because I could never trust him again. This was in October (I think?).
But has Hanan ever stopped calling or writing? No. Never. I don't think we've gone more than 2 weeks without a call or email from him. I delete his emails and don't answer his calls (if I think it's him). He even asked a mutual friend to contact me to see why I don't reply. He has been relentless in NOT giving up on some sort of contact with me.
So tonight, without thinking, I answered the phone when it said "unknown caller" (which usually means it's Hanan). I tried to be cold and callous, but it's so hard when you genuinely care for a person. My heart said, "Oh, his English is so good--I love hearing his voice!" while my brain says, "Don't feel ANYTHING for this boy Anita--he's no good!"
During the phone conversation he begged me over and over again for my friendship, and to please forgive him (he admitted to a lesser lie but never to misusing the money). I asked him, "Why is my friendship so important to you Hanan?" and he said, "Because you can make a difference in my life." I told him that I could never send him money again and he said, "I don't ever want you to give me money, just love me again, please mom?" [He calls me mom.]
I told him that I can't trust him--even if I want to be friends I can never trust him. Then he begged me to "just come and see" his life in Tamale. He thinks if I just see where he lives and where he goes to school and talk to his teachers everything will be fine. Oh, he's adamant about me coming to Tamale to SEE!
I just hate this. I want to love this boy so much. I want to trust him and maintain a friendship with him. Not only that but he is extremely intelligent and has better English than just about any Ghanaian I've met so far. Part of me wishes I could at some point help him get a job with an NGO. It seems a WASTE for his bright mind to go unused selling yams (which is according to him, what he does 6 hours each day when he's not in school).
But how do I know that this boy doesn't want me to come to Tamale so badly so that he can kidnap me? Tamale isn't a place a non-Muslim American woman travels to alone (at least not this one). If he really is a bad guy I could be putting myself in a very vulnerable position if I visited him there.
I don't know why I'm writing all of this. It's just heavy on my heart. It's so sad that the world has been sullied by bright young men that think it's better to scam than to become determined to succeed through education. I hate that I don't know whether Hanan is a bright young scammer, or a bright young man whose had a rough life and needs a little extra love and support.
I agreed that next time he writes I will write back.