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General News Mon, 31 Jul 2006

Slavery At Orphanage

(Graphic) -- An alleged fraudulent deal between an American couple, Mr and Mrs Chad Kline, and Rev Victor Ofori Amoah, the Proprietor of the Baptist School Complex and Orphanage at Troto, near Suhum in the Eastern Region, has led to the “sale” of Miss Elizabeth Adzo-Tei, one of the inmates, who is currently living with the couple in the United States.

The couple, with the support of the father of the child, were alleged to have made a false presentation to an Accra High Court, presided over by Mr Justice Victor Ofoe in 2001 that the child’s parents, Mr Kofi Adzo-Tei and Madam Comfort Dede, who were alive, had died long ago, thus making her an orphan and ready to be “adopted” by the couple.

The deal was said to have fetched Rev Amoah a handsome amount out of which he allegedly gave some to the father of the child.

Madam Dede who could not bear the trauma of her child’s absence, kept on pressuring her husband for the repatriation of the child until she finally died about a fortnight ago.

She was laid in state on Friday and was expected to be buried on Saturday. According to sources at the Troto village about 10 years ago Rev Amoah opened a branch of the Baptist Church in the village and later approached the Odikro and elders for land to turn it into a school and an orphanage, which was granted.

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According to the sources, Rev Amoah thereafter brought a handful of children from the village and surrounding hamlets to the orphanage after which he sought financial and logistical assistance from various sources, including foreign embassies and high commissions in Ghana and non- governmental organisations.

To ensure that more money was donated to the orphanage, the source said Rev Amoah contracted a stringer with the Ghana News Agency, Mr Prosper Addepa, to transport children from far-away places such as Osu Wen in the Greater Accra Region to increase the number of inmates to convince the donors after which they were sent back to their respective places.

The source said although most of those who were kept at the orphanage had their biological parents living, they were always presented to wealthy foreigners for adoption by teaming up with the proprietor to make false presentations in courts that the childrens’ parents had died to facilitate their “adoption”.

When contacted, Rev Amoah said he did not know that the parents of Miss Elizabeth Adzo-Tei were alive, and explained that he allowed the American couple to adopt the girl based on information that her parents were dead.

Rev Amoah who refuted the allegation that the parents of most of the children in the orphanage were alive indicated that most of them had been brought from different parts of the country.

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When Mr Addepa was contacted he confirmed that he brought a number of children totalling 53 from Osu Wen, and explained that it was only a humanitarian gesture to enable the children have the basic necessities of life and education.

Both the Odikro/Gyasehene, Nene Stephen Doku, and the assemblyman for the area, Mr Evans Bonbee said when they realised that Rev Amoah was deceiving the donor community to obtain funds they warned him but he continued.

The Odikro and the assemblyman cited an instance where many children were transported from elsewhere to the orphanage a day before the Australian High Commissioner to Ghana presented cash, mattresses and other logistics to the orphanage last year after which the children were sent back to their homes.

“At first Rev Amoah convinced me to allow my children to be considered as orphans at the orphanage but after realising the implications as an Odikro, I declined,” Nene Doku stated.

When the Daily Graphic went to the house of Mr Adzo-Tei at Troto on Friday, the family was making preparations for the burial of the late Dede, mother of Elizabeth Adzo-Tei.

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Mr Adzo-Tei, however, refused to answer questions relating to the paternity of Elizabeth, explaining that he was in a state of mourning.

An uncle of Mr Adzo-Tei, Mr Kwame Narteh, however, confirmed that Mr Adzo-Tei was the father of the child in question.

A family source told the Daily Graphic that when Madam Dede died, Rev Amoah informed Mr and Mrs Chad Kline that the grandmother had passed away, so the couple should send money for the funeral, which they did by sending some foreign currency estimated at ¢5 million out of which Rev Amoah gave Mr Adzo-Tei ¢2 million for the funeral and kept the remaining ¢3 million.

Source: Graphic