In many ways, Addae seems like any other teenager. He just graduated from high school, loves soccer, and is excited about college in the fall. But few teenagers have overcome so much.
Addae grew up in a rural village in Ghana. When his father died after his twelfth birthday, his father’s family sold him to a priest of a local religion. The priest beat Addae, who spent his days doing chores and his nights sleeping on the temple floor. After a year, Addae’s mother rescued her son, though she still could not support him on her own. She took him to an uncle, but that was not really better. His uncle’s abusive wife woke Addae early to clean the house and then sent him into the streets to sell trinkets. After awhile, Addae’s uncle trafficked him to an Ecuadorian as a child worker.
When he arrived in Ecuador, Addae managed to avoid the trafficker, but was living on the streets, penniless, alone, and without the Spanish to ask for help. He decided to travel north in a journey as harrowing as anything that went before. Still, Addae kept going, until he walked across the bridge to the US and presented himself to immigration officials. Eventually, officials relocated him to Pennsylvania, where a foster agency contacted HIAS Pennsylvania.
HIAS PA helped Addae gain a special visa for minors deemed at risk of abuse or abandonment if sent home. Addae was then able to get life-changing documents: a work permit and driver’s license. Now Addae holds a job at Walmart and, as a gifted student, looks forward to attending community college on a scholarship. He has also applied for a precious green card, the symbol of legal permanent residency in the US and the next step on the long road to citizenship. Says Addae, “I didn’t think I would ever have a chance at a life like this.”