Rafia's story begins on September 29, 1996 in Accra, Ghana, also known as Ghana's capital. Her mother, Grace, often raised her by herself, with few visits from her father, who was off in the military. Rafia was the only child, but not for long...
My precious little girl! I'm going to name you Rafia, after the mini mountain located in the country next to Ghana, which used to be a part of Ghana years ago before the boundaries were made.
Five years later...
Rafia, do you want to meet your sister, Darlene?
Ooo! I be big sister!
In November 2001, Grace takes a one way ticket to the United States without her children...
I hope Rafia and Darlene understand I'm leaving Ghana to make a better life for myself so I can bring them to the United States too someday, when they're old enough. It was good that 9/11 delayed my visa process so I could sort things out for them and make sure they're left in good hands. This is the right choice right?
Girls, you know I have to leave. It's a part of my job, you will be comfortable here with your aunt! Mommy is in the United States, but I will come back to you eventually!
But Dad, I don't want to live with our aunt! I want mommy! I miss mommy! Why did she leave us?
Shhh! Darlene, don't cry! I'm sure auntie will be back soon...
Their aunt would often receive money, not from their father, but from Grace in the United States. Rafia and Darlene were not treated well in the hands of their aunt, who often leave them by themselves at night when they were just children.
Maybe a fun fact will help... Did you know in 2004 the Summer Olympic Games were held in Athens, Greece? The United States won the most medals, 101 to be exact.
After moving in and out of different homes and schools for years, Rafia and Darlene settle down in a flat, located in the middle of nowhere. The flat was specifically for military families and formed its own little community, where everyone shared food during the holidays and planted crops. Their mother's best friend took care of them after Grace asked her to because she learned about how their aunt treated them.
No! We should play pass the dirt!
Lets play hide and seek!
Darlene! Rafia! Do you want to climb mango trees and pick some juicy fruit?