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Salute to my father: Part III

21 June 2017 at 02:18 | 3285 views

Salute to my father: Part III

The gracious hands of God

By Dagbayonoh Kiah Nyanfore III, USA.

Father’s Day this year was special to me. In addition to celebrating my own father, my church, the Abosso Apostolic Faith Church in Liberia, has made me father of the year.

This is the best honor ever for me. It is an honor from God.

In my first "Salute to my Father", I talked about the death of my father (photo). He died when I was about 13 years old. I discussed his disappointment and frustration after completing college. He died young, he died penniless; he left no money and property but left us his children his legacy of advocacy, honesty, integrity and his principle of culture and self worth.

In part two, I talked about how his legacy impacted me, my experiences in Grandcess, his birthplace, and the mistreatment which I endured from my uncle’s wife. I expressed the hardship that I encountered after his death, selling bottles of kerosene on my head in the streets, cleaning empty bottles and selling them to the brewery, my schooling at CWA, a high shool in Liberia, and the opportunity which enabled me to come to America for school as a teenager.

In this part three, I will tell part of my story as an adult in America. My story is a testimony of the gracious hands of God.

I came to America in 1966 after entering the 10th grade at CWA. l attended Fryeburg Academy, a prep school in the state of Maine. Fryeburg is a private boarding school where some of the rich people in America send their children. My presence at Fryeburg was like a fairy tale. Born in the slum of New Krutown, raised in the ghetto of Claratown, I entered a world of wealth and privilege, a new status which made me look like the son of a rich man.

At Fryeburg, we did not have to do any chore but study, eat, sleep and play sports. On Fridays, we received a stipend from the student account office and on weekends we went out to movies and other events. Our laundry was done by a private company.
This change of conditions for me could get in one’s head, pretending to be what you are not, trying to act rich and White. But dad’s philosophy of “Know Yourself” was ringing in my mind and ears, anchoring me and bringing me to reality. His legacy was my base, telling me of my roots and reminding me of my background, my culture and my people. I joined the school debating club and made racism a focus of discussion and debate. I wrote and published my first paid article in America on racism.

Mr. Paul McGuire, my advisor at Fryeburg, asked me from where I got the spirit of advocacy?

“From my dad.” I replied with a smile,

“Was he a political leader, a freedom fighter or a human rights lawyer”? He asked further.

“He was a man of principles, integrity and stood up for what he believed to be right. He did not like people to take advantage of him or others”. Again, I answered with a smile.

While I was a student at Fryeburg, I worked during school break in New York with a chain of over 50 women clothing stores. The stores were called Plymouth Shops. One day, while carrying some garments from the production center to a store, I met a man in the street. We were individually flagging cabs to our respective destinations. We decided to a share a taxi. On our way, he asked me where I was from. I told him Liberia.

"Do you work full time"? He asked.

"No, I am a student and working during the school break". I said. I also told him my school name when he later asked. He informed me that he had a vacation house in Maine. He told me his name, Mr. Blumstain, after he asked me for mine.

"Mr. Blumstain", I said excitedly. I have heard the name often before. He was the owner of the company, my employer. I never met him before. He worked in the company’s headquarters. He was a very rich man, one of the richest men in New York.

Mr. Blumstain became my mentor. He taught me the finest of good friendship.
When I entered Georgetown University after Fryeburg, I worked for his company during the summer break. I asked him for an advance pay so I would help for the plane fare of my friend, Benjamin Dugbe, who encouraged and helped me to enter CWA. Ben gained admission at Georgetown but did not have the airfare to travel to the US. Mr. Blumstain volunteered to give me the money from his own pocket. He then gave me this piece of advice:

"Do not ask your friend to pay you back the money. Tell him when he is capable in the future to assist a person financially, he should not ask to be paid back. He should tell the person to do the same. In that way, we can help create a community of givings and not a society that just receives."

That was good advice, a philosophy of giving and caring. I made that a part of my principles.

I completed Georgetown and later went on to finish my Master’s degree from the University of the District of Columbia. After working for federal and local governments and the private sector, I started a small business in Washington, DC. Things were okay.

One day while on a trip in New York, I received a call from a friend. She asked for a favor for me to take in three little girls. She explained that the girls’ mother travelled to Africa and while there, the family fell back on their mortgage in Maryland and ended up losing their house. The children, having no place to stay, were taken to their uncle in Chicago. But the uncle refused them, demanding money from the mother as a condition to take the children.

My friend and an older sister of the children decided to return them for fear that imposing the children on the uncle could possibly lead to mistreatment of the children. She asked for my consideration and goodwill. I agreed, but was afraid that as a single man, taking care of three little girls would be a problem. My friend had my house key so I told her to bring the children.

The children living with me changed my life. I became an instant parent/guardian, a different world. The oldest, Celue, was about 12 years old, the second, Tdisho, was around 10 and the youngest, Kathy, was 7 or 8 when they came to live with me. Their mother cooperated for the court to make me their legal guardian. They are the children of the late Samuel K. Doe, former president of Liberia. Being kids, they longed for thier father. I did not try to take their dad’s place, did not try to compete with him or try to impress the children by attempting to do what was financially not possible for me. Two of their brothers, Roland and Varneh, moved with us briefly later. The third brother, Samuel Doe Jr., the oldest boy, stayed for a few days and departed for Africa to join their mother.

Adjusting was not easy. It had been a while since I physically parented a child. My biological daughter’s mother and I divorced many years ago and I had been a bachelor for about 20 years. Moreover, the kids did not know me. I was a total stranger. They missed their father and mother. I understood that. They were girls and I did not know how to handle things regarding females, little girls. Going to the store to buy their stockings and other female things was embarrassing. But my friend was around to assist when needed.

We gradually adjusted to each other. We lived as a family. We had tough and happy times. We lost our first apartment in fashionable Dupont Circle community because we had a dog, which we were keeping temporarily for my friend. But we moved to a bigger apartment on 16 Street NW, DC. With the help of God, I was able to provide for them throughout. They attended Summer camps, each had a bank account for emergency; and we went on trips, including Disney Land and Universal Studio.

From elementary schools, they went to good universities, including Penn State and University of Pittsburg. Celue spent a semester in Switzerland as part of her university program. Her main college, CW Post University, is located in New York. Taking them back to school, driving long hours and distances, though tiring, was also fun.
For break, I sent them individually to spend holidays away. Kathy went to UK to spent time with her mother who was visiting the area. Tdisho went to Georgia to visit a daughter of my friend Sandra. Celue, who was already in Europe, visited other European countries as field trips. They needed the break and I did too.

Parenting children is challenging. You have to balance things, never try to take sides. preferring one over the others is wrong and dangerous. They look up to you for guidance. You must treat all equally. Be fair and be firm. I had home rules. For instance, they were told not to engage in in boyfriend-girlfriend intimate relations while in high school. They asked why. I explained, though they viewed the rule to be unfair. But that was my rule. I was the head of the household. They appreciated that later. I also told them not to lie, always tell the truth, be fair in dealing with people and be honest.

Each of the girls was unique and had individual behavior. Kathy was closer, has lots of feelings, liked attention and liked to be the star. I watched her sing Mariah Carey’s song "Hero" on stage with a schoolmate, she was remarkable. She did not see her dad. She was a baby when he passed. She would hold my hands when we walked. One day while walking I asked what is her greatest wish. She replied, "I wish my father were alive". That was touching!

She was aggressive, describing herself as Mike Tyson when she was in a fight. She was her own person. I was proud when one of her college professors told me of her excellent performance in class. "Kathy is a good student, she writes well", he said.

Tdisho liked baking, making cakes for others’ birthdays and for dessert. She liked cooking, boasting of her cooking skills. On one of her birthdays, I ordered a cake for her but forgot to pick it up on my way home. She was mad, and she was right. Her point was that she can bake cake for others’ birthday but for her birthday, no one had a cake for her. I went for the cake immediately.

When she ever got mad, she would cook or make her food tasteless. So we did not allow her to cook when she was angry. Tdisho was also a good student and won awards: She won a competition by reading Lincoln’s Gettysburg address in Spanish against a Spanish born and speaking student. She won a mock court case as a project for students wanting to be lawyers.

She would tell her siblings that she was my favorite. "Uncle Kiah, I’m your favorite right? "All you girls are my favorites", I would reply.

Celue, the oldest, resisted in the beginning. She was close to her father. She refused to give me a Father’s Day card the first year they came to reside with me. She said that she only had one father and that her father had died. Her oldest sister, Veronica disciplined her for the behavoir. Celue soon came around, becoming my right hand person, taking leadership of things, including cooking, preparing grocery lists, home shopping and budgeting. Veronica was supportive and continues to be supportive of me.

Celue’s college senior thesis was excellent. She did a documentary of the relationship between a father and daughter. The project entailed interviews with families, with fathers and daughters. She documented their stories and showed how the relation impacted the daughters. At the end of the project , she narrated her own story and honored me. I almost shed tears when I saw the video. The documentary, entitled, Daddy’s Girl, is a masterpiece. A TV station wanted to interview her and air the documentary as a Father’s Day special.

I wanted the girls to study Law. They were good at debating, presenting their argument and analyzing and dissecting opposing views. But they had other career desires. You cannot impose your own interest on kids. They must dream their own dreams. They must decide what they want to be. You just have to direct and guide them.

The children are now adults. They live on their own. Celue and Tdisho are mothers now. Kathy is managing a major restaurant in Washington, DC. They are doing well; I am happy for them. I thank God for everything. I hope that one day they would give back to their communities, to Liberia or humanity. I hope that they would make a difference in the life of a child, not just theirs, but a child or children not related to them. I pray also that they would be unselfish, caring about others, being fair, having honesty and integrity. I get disappointed though, when things do not look right and are detoured.

The Gracious Hands of God
God has been with me. He has been good to me and has come to my aid when I called on him. I will tell you some of God’s gracious hands since the children came to live with me. I have told some of the stories as testimonies of God grace.

One day while sitting in my office, the phone rang. The person on the line asked to talk to me.

"This is Mr. Nyanfore, can I help you"? I answered.

The man said that he had met me some time ago and we discussed about a contract and the cost. His agency was now ready to enforce the contract. He said he would like to meet me at their Washington, DC center to move on with the project.

I was silent for a second, "OK, give me the address". I said, but perplexed trying to make sense of the whole thing.

We agreed on a date and time. I started thinking after we ended the conversation. I did not remember meeting this man, neither recalling his name. I checked my contact and meeting diary and could not find his name or record of the meeting. I also asked my assistant if he recalled the name and the meeting. The answer was no. I decided to call him back to confirm if this was real.

I called. His secretary answered.

"Good afternoon miss, this is Mr. Nyanfore. I called just to confirm my meeting with Mr. Johnson next Wednesday at 2". I stated.

"Yes Mr. Nyanfore, the appointment is correct as you indicated. He will meet you in our DC office".

The man’s call was legit, I said to myself. When my assistant and I met the man, I could not recall meeting him, neither seeing the face before.

"Hello Mr. Nyanfore, nice meeting you again", he said shaking my hand.

"Nice seeing you too, Mr. Johnson". I responded. But I could not believe what was happening.

We sat to talk in the conference room with two of his representatives and my assistant. He discussed about the project and the contract. He wrote down the previous agreed cost on a sheet of paper and passed it on to me to confirm the amount. It was the biggest amount I ever worked for. But I was cool, exhibiting no eagerness. happiness and emotion.

I said, "As you know, Mr. Johnson, it has been a while, and cost has increased regionally and nationally, so if we add 10% as cost of adjustment, the final cost would be blah, blah, blah".

"That is understandable, let me bounce this with my superiors and you will hear from me soon"., he remarked.

We shook hands and left. On our way, I asked my assistant if he has seen or met the man before. No he said. I did not hear from the man after a week. I figured then that he has realized that I was the wrong guy. But the next week I saw a big brown envelope in my mail box. It was the contract for my signature. They had agreed to give my company advance pay to get ourselves together. I said thank you Jesus, for you are wonderful.

The contract helped me a lot. I was able to do more for the children. Also during the summer, I hired them, including one of thier brothers, as summer helps. They saved their pays for school shopping. We drove to New York for the shopping. One of their friends worked with them for the summer.

Another intervention of God occurred in Celue’s last year in college. The university sent her home for non-payment of tuition. She owed over $4,000.00, including some of the expenses for her international/European studies. The university gave her 30 days to make payment or she would be dropped from school. She was worried and depressed at home, sitting around and doing nothing. I tried to borrow from the bank without luck. As a self- employed person, it was difficult getting loan from banks.

I seriously prayed to God for his intervention. Three weeks passed without help. On the fourth week on Thursday, I got a call in the morning from a man saying.” Is this Building Services”? I answered “yes”. He said he had two properties in DC and they had water damage and wanted someone to restore the properties.

The man stated that he would pay the next day, which was Friday, upon completion of the work. The job was timely and satisfactorily completed; my crew did a good job, and the company was paid accordingly. I received far more than what I wanted for the tuition. I gave Celue a certified check payable to the university. Celue left for school on Sunday and started classes on Monday, the last day of the deadline. She studied hard and graduated with her class. It was God who did it! Glory be unto him for his help, kindness and grace.

Another gracious hand of our Lord was with Kathy. She had a problem with one of her eyes since birth. When she looked at you, one of her eyeballs would turn on the side. In Liberia, we call it crossed eyes. The condition bothered her, and was embarrassing. I took her to the George Washington Hospital, one of the best hospitals in DC, for treatment.

The hospital’s specialists examined her eyes and said that the problem could not be fixed. I was determined and took her to the now closed DC General Hospital. They checked her eye and stated that it could be corrected. They performed surgery on the eye, removing the eyeball and readjusted it. Our God cured her. She can see better now. Our Lord is the doctor of all doctors.

There were other miracles that I experienced since having the children. When I explained some to my brother Micheal, he commented that in the Catholic church there is what they call divine intervention, God’s power to arrest a situation and make conditions better. Micheal pointed out that the children’s father, president Doe, was looking out for them by the grace of God. Regarding the first contract, my friend Dr.Alex Mboukou from Congo said that it was God’s work. "Nyanfore", he said, "God is with you, he brought that contract for you through the man. Do not question or ponder over God’s miracle".

Praying and Fasting, the Answer
Praying is the key in a spiritual journey and to a relationship with God. God sees us and will do anything if we call on him. The Bible says that by praying and believing, everything we want and desire shall be given unto us. The power is within us and if we pray and believe in God we can exercise that power. The pastor or reverend can only guide, advise and direct us in our relation with God but cannot give us wealth, power and cannot get us to heaven. Pastor Anthony Umufied concurred on this matter in a recent conversation with him.

With God’s blessing and protection, you do not need a juju man, medicine man and witchcraft, for their power and wealth do not last. Jesus taught us how to pray, he prayed for days and hours, so why cannot we? He told us how we can get the power and perform miracles. He was direct and clear.

I pray daily and fast the first week of the month. I fast and pray in thanksgiving to God and for what I want him to do for me. I begin with the Lord’s prayer. I pray in my native language and speak honestly and directly to him. I get better results when I do that. Some experts in praying suggest that we should pray with candle light as a symbol of Holy fire. Holy fire is for protection and defence. I have not tried this suggestion for fear of putting the house on fire. I will try it one day in a spacious room.

My daily prayer is divided into two parts. The first is personal; I thank God for protecting me yesterday and the day before. I pray for his protection and blessing for the current day. For specific matters, I ask for his intervention NOW. Second, I do a general prayer. I pray for my family, friends, church, my church in Liberia and the one in America. I pray for all churches and mosques; I pray for Liberia and for the world, including prayer for justice and peace in Liberia and in the world. God extended his gracious hands to me in my request to him regarding the children.

Taking care of the children gave me a pleasant exercise and opportunity of fatherhood. Providing for others, caring, extending kindness and making a difference gives the doer happiness and joy. God will bless you for your kindness. That is why when you help someone, he/she would say, "may God bless you" or "God will bless you".

An unknown writer once said, and I am paraphrasing, that when we leave this world, we would not be remembered by the size or fatness of our bank book, by the big house we owned, or by the luxurious car we drove, but we will be remembered for making a difference in the life of a child.

Making a difference in the life of people, particularily the young ones, gives me pleasure. I have tried to do that to many people, some family members, friends or community members. I also play a role as an uncle and a second father in the lives of children of an old college friend. Life is short, we do not know how and where it would end us. We know when we were born but do not know when we will die.
While I have been praised for my effort for the children, I have been criticized by others. My brother James, some family members and friends have voiced support for my help. Opponents, however, criticized that I should have helped family members instead of assisting the children of, what they called, a "dictator and murderer". Some of Doe’s kinsmen advised Mrs. Doe to remove the children from me and alleged that as a progressive, I was anti-Doe.

But my critics failed to acknowledge that I have done a lot for my family and those kinsmen were the very same people who refused to take the children when the children needed a place and help. Even while the children resided with me, none of the kinsmen offered one cent for the children or asked about the children’s wellbeing. Moreover, some alleged that Doe had given me money for the children or gave me money to keep.

Interestingly, one of the kinsmen claimed the children as his dependants on his tax return form, though the children were living with me and I was supporting them. I reported the fraud to the IRS, Internal Revenus Services, and they removed the dependant payment from the person’s bank account.

Interestingly moreover, my family member who specifically accused me of hosting children of a murderer failed to answer that even if Doe were a convicted killer, should his children be denied of help and kindness. Sadly, the accuser’s own individual family history is guilty of the accused crime.

My cousin, Gloria Juah Doe, was a strong supporter of mine regarding the children. She was a single parent living in New York. Celue spent times with her during some school breaks, since Celue’s college is in New York. Gloria had two children; Nana-Ja, an adult, and Koplah, a teenage girl. Gloria and Koplah were living together in an apartment. Gloria told me if any thing should happen to her, I should raise Koplah for her.

"You are doing a good job with the girls and Koplah would be better of with you", she said. She went in the room a brought a picture of her, saying

"This is the photo you all should use for my funeral".

"Hey Gloria, why should you talk like that? What should you bring death business in this conversation"? I said.

"Dagbayonoh, we all will die one day. It is better to say our wish or wishes while we can talk"; she explained. She wanted me also to hold her deed for a two acre of land she purchased on Air Field Road in Liberia for her children, Nana-Ja and Koplah. She trusted me that much. I did not however encourage her nor agree for her to do that.
Gloria was a proud Nyanfore. She called herself Lady Gloria Juah Doe of Grandcess. We were close relative. Her grandmother, Princess Nyanfore Boyonoh, was sister of my grandfather, Prince Dagbayonoh Kiah Nyanfore of Grandcess, my namesake.
Unfortunately few years later, Gloria got sick, had a stroke and was hospalized. I went to see her; she could not talk, she lay on the bed, just looking at me.

"Gloria, this is Dagbayonoh. I am here to see you and I brought with me Kiah, my biological daughter Tanneh’s son. I stated trying to adjust the bed sheet on her. She could not move; I repeated my last statement. The tears started coming down her chin. The tears got heavier. "You will get well in Jesus name Gloria", I stated.

Kiah, a child not knowing what was going on, alerted me; Granddad, she is crying, just if I could not see. He came close to me, holding me in apparent scare of the event. Gloria died shortly after. Koplah was in high school when Gloria passed.

But her younger sisters in the US started an anti-Doe propaganda against me, alleging that Doe killed their brother who was in the Liberian military and the fact that I was keeping Doe’s children. They suggested that I should not come to Gloria’s funeral with the children. They lied, the propaganda could not stop me. Gloria and I were too close, we were very tight. I attended the funeral with Celue, and nothing they could do about it. I was not asked neither did I want to speak at her burial. The sisters did not carry out Gloria’s wish or wishes, though I told them.

Evidently but sadly, the main sister propagating this anti-Doe sentiment married to and have children by an Anderson, whose father was convicted and hung for involving in ritualistic killing of a poor and innocent man in Maryland County for political power. As the saying goes, he who judges others or accuses others of a crime should come with clean hands. Moreover, should her children be denied of assistance by a stranger? Certainly not, and should not.

Her children, her and her husband are innocent and should not be punished or judged for the crime of the father or grandfather. We have to be careful what we say or do to others. Also we cannot transfer crime from one person to another. We cannot reconcile if we keep grudges, sometimes unfairly, in our hearts. My cousins kept bad feeling regarding their brother’s death, but seemingly never bother to investigate what really happened but transferred the crime on innocent children and the person who was helping them. On the other hand, the oldest sister took the brother’s demise differently, embracing the children and rendering assistance whenever possible.

I met president Doe in late 1980 several months after the coup when I visited Liberia on a consulting assignment. A group which I chaired in DC to support the revolution had asked me to see the new head of state and to give him the group’s message during my visit. After my work, I tried to see Doe by arranging appointments at the executive mansion. Boy, I encountered so much difficulties and runarounds.
Some people tried to block my way from seeing the head of state for fear that I would ask and be appointed to a position if I saw Doe. The fear was certainly justifiable, because many Liberians residing in the Diaspora rushed home for jobs just after the overthrow. Many were appointed to positions as advisors to the council of the junta, creating jealousy, acrimony and power struggle between Liberians from abraod and those who stayed at home. In deed the advisors had direct contact with the military decision makers and thus put the diaspora Liberians in control vis-a-vis the home group.

With the help of my friend and schoolmate Dew Mayson and the late Gerneral Thomas Quiwonpka, I got an audience with Doe. Before delivering the message, I made it directly clear to the chairman that my purpose was not to seek a job or position with the government. Doe jet when I made the remark, apparently he had not heard such bold statement from a Liberian visiting. I said it infront of George Boley, then minister of state and presidential affairs. I wanted him to hear it because he was under the impression that I was to seek a job. He was one of the individuals making it difficult for me to see Doe, Chairman of the People Redemption Council, Doe’s official title then.
I read the message to the chairman in the presence of Vice Chair Thomas Wey Syen, Justice Minister Chea Cheapo and Minister Boley. After the message, Wey Syen jumped from his seat and happily greeted me and shook my hand. Doe then told me how the coup was staged and the role he played. He was down to earth and showed care and concern of the Liberian masses from his speech. After the meeting, the late Johnnie Kpor, assistant minister under Boley, walked me down the stairs and said.

"Mr. Nyanfore, you could not have it better than that; despite the hard time you encountered, you saw the head of state in his private quarter with the vice chair and the justice minister. You made your position clear and delivered the message well".
He put his hand on my shoulder momentarily as we walked. I returned to the US shortly and took a position with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Economic Affairs. I never worked in the Doe administration nor received one cent from Doe.

Who would have known that the chairman or president whom I was denied to see, I would become the father of his children? That is life. It is like a pendulum, swinging from one side to another. You can not tell at which side or point you would end.
The life of president Samuel K. Doe should remind us of the joy and sadness of life. Born of poor parents and of poor background, April 12, 1980 changed his world and life forever; he came from.poverty and became head of state. He gained instant power and the power brought wealth, new friends and admirers. He went into business with others as a silent partner investing heavily; he entrusted money with friends and family members. But when he untimely died, his power ended. His money disappeared. Many of those he went into business with or gave money to keep, failed to inform his family of his investments and money when he died. They kept his money while his family suffered.

For instance, Doe went into a mining business with a partner. The business earned over US two million dollars annually in profits after taxes and expenses. But when he died, the partner disappeared and gave no account of the money. Doe purchased a hotel, which he put in the name of a family member in an agreed arrangement. But upon his assassination, the family member claimed the property with no regard to Doe’s heirs. Sadly also, Doe died without a will. This brought family infighting.Where did the money go, who has what and who should have what? Family divided, children suffered. Also Doe’s wife, Mrs. Nancy Doe, was sometimes taken advantage of because she was and is not educated.

President Doe had many friends and helped many friends, but at his demise, some of the friends denouced he dictator and an uneducated leader. They also forgot his family.

In 2016, the Liberian Supreme Court awarded Mrs. Doe over US5 millions, including interest for money which the ex-president rightfully owned and banked in Liberia but was taken by the Sirleaf administration. The government seemingly is dragging its feet in paying apparently, so it would not be held liable or responsible when the administration leaves power next January. Is this treatment and strategy fair? Would they like it be done to them when they leave power? Doe was not perfect as a leader. He is now dead. Should his family suffer?

Mrs. Doe’s legal team, from my information last, was considering taking the matter up with the ECOWAS court. Head of State Sirleaf, however, is ECOWAS president, though prior, the regional body had ruled against Liberia in previous matters.

Father of the Year
I came to Liberia in January 2014 for a six month visit. I got sick and Ebola came to the country in March, making it difficult for me to return to the US. I lost two younger sisters during my stay. I watched the first one die in my house. The death took a toll on me as there was not adequate money for her burial. Some family members suggested that because of burial costs, we should declare her an Ebola victim, so the government would bury her in a mass grave or incinerate the body.

But my sister did not die from Ebola and I refused for her body to be treated that way. We struggled to bury her, but we gave her a decent burial considering. On the father side, her niece and nephews, including a minister in the government, failed to attend her funeral. I broke down when I spoke at her funeral. My first time not being strong publicly in a death situation. I helplessly felt sad when I thought of her poverty. She lived with six children in a small one bedroom old broken down zinc shack. What I sent her when I was in America was inadequate relative to the level of poverty she endured, as I got to know when I came home and saw where and how she lived. I wrote about her death in a published article entitled, Who or what killed my sister in Liberia?."The second sister followed, and I was still sick in Liberia.

Unlike Elizabeth, the above sister, Martha’s burial was better handled. Her daughter came home from the US for the burial. Her son, an executive at a major bank in Liberia, and other family members, were available to easily take care of the burail cost. She was laid in an expensive casket. The church was packed and additional people sat outside. I spoke at her funeral, but with control of my emotion. However, like Elizabeth, Martha died penniless; she had no house and no land and left nothing for her grandchildren.

In my trials and tribulations, my friends and some family members abandoned me. Ever my children and a longtime friend, who had lived with me briefly when he was penniless and now considered a millionaire, forsook me and never bothered to know how I was doing. My wife also left the house and took everything with her. But the Lord helped me and I have regained my health and some similar things I have lost. The Lord is my shepherd.

My staying in Liberia was for a purpose. God has made me see things, he has revealed to me in dreams why I came. I have seen the hypocrisy of people, the don’t care behavior, the extreme poverty and the suffering of the masses in a country so naturally riched and blessed by God.

In this month of father day, my church named me father of the year, an honor from God. The award certificate reads: "In sincere recognition of your dedicated, faithful and valuable services rendered to the church, humanity and society, as a token of our appreciation, the pastors, officers and members of the church do hereby award this certificate as FATHER OF THE YEAR 2017/2018". I was thrilled.

I thank God, the church and my people for the recognition. When God honors you, no one will dishonor you. When God recognizes you, he will restore you and bless you, and no one will take your blessing from you. He will put your enemies to shame.
I also recognize my father, for the life he lived and for being a good father. Although he left us with no money or properties, he left with a legacy of advocacy, caring, honesty and integrity.

On this father day, I thank you dad and salute you for the good you did and stood for.
On this father day, I also salute other fathers, people who have helped me, who had have advised me and contributed to my welbeing. Most of them have departed this world. I thank Mr. Abenego Daniel, Peter Jarklon Slewior (PSJ), Bartholomew, Benjamin Dugbe, Rupert Marshall, Eugene Peabody, Dr. Lawrence Nya Taryar, Hon. J. Rudolph Grimes, Hon. George Henries, Mr. Blumstain, and Mrs. Kirk. They were/are people of principle.

I specially honor and thanks Bishop Pekro Gray for his care and help, which enabled me to come to America. He surely made a difference in my life. Thank you uncle and may your soul rest in peace.

The author