It is said that not all superheroes wear a cape and I am convinced that this saying is true. Meet Kofi Kissinger, a man who sacrificed everything to save the life of a boy who was abandoned by his parents because he was born with a leg deformity.
Kofi Kissinger who prefers to go by the name Ras Kissinger, has been taking care of this child since 2008. The little boy, Franklyn, was born a twin but unfortunately for him, his twin sister Franklyna took a greater portion of nutrients and space available in their mother’s womb making him sickly and malnourished. He also came out with just one good leg, delayed speech, a hole in his heart and hernia while his twin sister was completely healthy.
Tears filled Ras Kissinger’s eyes as he recalled the events that led to him becoming Franklyn’s guardian. In 2007, his job as a percussionist for a cultural troop offered him the opportunity to travel a lot. In that field of work, he often met many tourists. In one such chance meeting, he befriended Katherine a Belgian national. Ras Kissinger spoke to her about his neighbour’s children and requested for clothes for the children the next time she was coming to Ghana.
Some months later Katherine returned to Ghana this time with some friends, they met the twins and realised that Franklyn looked very thin and was suffering from malnutrition (kwashiorkor) while his sister looked healthy.
They took him to the hospital where it was discovered that the little boy had a hole in heart and hernia in addition to his deformed left leg. The boy’s plight touched Ras’ Belgian friends so much that they formed an NGO called Initiative for Africa to help raise funds for Franklyn’s surgery. They raised over €10,000 (GHC21,200 in 2008) to support the child.
This is where it gets interesting. In May 2008, the NGO sent the money for Franklyn’s operation. Ras then informed Florence Aidoo, Franklyn’s mother who at that time had separated from her husband that the money was ready so a day for the operation should be scheduled.
Florence also got some donation from her local church in support of Franklyn’s pending operation but sadly she had her own plans. In the middle of the night, one neighbour saw her leaving her home with all her belongings and children in a minivan with the donation the church made to her. It was later discovered that she had run away to her hometown, Bawjiase in the Central Region.
Ras with the help of Florence’s friends tracked her down and confronted her as to why she took Franklin away knowing that the boy needed emergency surgery. To his surprise, she was not the least perturbed and told Ras he could take Franklin away if he so wished. Franklin’s older sister joined them back to Accra in order to take care of Franklyn but changed her mind two days later and returned to Bawjiase leaving Franklyn with Ras. This man with no children of his own was left to take care of the boy who would cry for hours because of the pain of his hernia.
Florence holding Franklyna and Katherine holding Franklyn in a Belgian newspaper
Franklyn was taken to the cardiologist at korle-bu to schedule an operation for his hole in heart condition. Unfortunately he was not of the required minimum weight for the operation to be carried out. He was then directed to a dietician to help him gain some weight, at least 10kg before his heart surgery could take place. At this time, 3 year old Franklin was barely 6kg however his hernia was successfully removed.
Franklin never gained the required 10kg for the whole in heart operation to be carried out.
Franklyn’s surgery was so complicated the doctors in Ghana recommended that the hole in heart operation should be done in South Africa because they did not have the facilities for such an operation. Luckily Katherine found the Doctors Without Borders Organisation (Chain of Hope) in Belgium who agreed to take on the operation. Good news right?
Their only headache was to find a visa for Franklyn and they could only get the visa with his biological parents’ thumb prints. Ras determined to see this through, tracked them down once again and managed to get their consent.
He also obtained documents from the department of social welfare which were endorsed by the Foreign Affairs Ministry and finally the Belgian visa application centre. In September, he got a call from the Belgian visa application centre that the documents which contained Franklyn’s parents’ consent were missing so he had to send a new one by fax.
On 4th December 2009 Franklyn was finally given a 3 months visa which was later extended by a month to travel to Belgium for his heart and deformed leg operations.
When Franklyn came back to Ghana after his surgery, Ras contacted Franklyn’s father to come for his child and his response was “No! Take Franklyn back to where you picked him from”. When Ras got in touch with Franklyn’s mother, she also had no interest in taking Franklyn back so he took Franklyn and has been taking care of him since. At this time he had relocated to Kwahu because of work so he took Franklyn with him and in 2012 they came back to Accra to help Franklyn with his speech disability.
Franklyn years after his surgery
Fast forward to today, Franklyn can walk, talk and is enjoying his childhood. The hole in his heart is healing gradually and he hasn’t had any complications since. He and Ras are inseparable. They do everything together and Franklyn does not sleep if his caretaker is not home. Ras Kissinger said that he had to end three different romantic relationships because none of the women had the patience nor love to take care of Franklyn.
When asked what he does now, he explained that right now he lives by the day and does anything legal to feed himself and Franklyn. “I really find it difficult to pay his school fees because I had to stop my work. I even had to move him to a different school because I could not afford his fees in his previous school but God will see us through”. He stated that he would welcome a job to be able to take care of his son. I asked what kind of job he would be interested in and he said that he knows a thing or two about fashion design but prefers to be a farmer and hopes to acquire a piece of land someday to start.
“I want to give him life and I will not leave him…never” as he recalled how much he had to sacrifice because of Franklyn. He said people even called him a fool for taking care of another man’s child but he didn’t care at all and was more than happy to take care of Franklyn.