STARTING FROM ZERO
Imagine, at age 29, being forced to leave everything familiar to you including your family, your friends, your business, your home, the food you eat, your neighborhood, your hope of meeting your unborn son, all the places familiar to you and the customs you know. On January 24, 2019 at the age of 29, this is exactly what happened to our friend Franklin Ejenma.
This is his story and how you may be able to help him start over in his new country. My husband Tom and I can vouch for him.
Early on the morning of November 5, 2018, while Franklin was sitting in his living room in Cameroon with his door wide open, three masked armed military men stormed in, violently kicked him to the floor and jammed a gun into his back while they ransacked his apartment then lead him out at gunpoint. He was cuffed, blindfolded, pushed into the back of a truck and taken away.
Frank was held in a room with 2 men, who had been badly beaten and tortured, only to be periodically removed to a separate place where he was also brutally beaten and tortured (strangulation, near-drownings in dirty water and other horrifically inhumane acts). He was shown a video of 2 boys being beaten, tortured, and then killed, and told that was how he was going to end up. He was terrified.
Franklin was arrested because he is a member of a group that opposes the unjust discriminatory policies inflicted on the English-speaking population of the country (20% are native English-speakers). One month earlier, his stepfather was found murdered and dumped on the side of a road, resulting in his mother and younger sister fleeing to neighboring Nigeria. Franklin’s math teacher was killed and left in the town square. Franklin was fearful that he would be imprisoned and tortured for the rest of his life.
Unbeknownst to Franklin, a good friend had witnessed him being taken away by the military and contacted Franklin’s company lawyer, who was able to free him on the grounds of unlawful arrest. The lawyer told Franklin he would have to flee. Frank went into hiding while he arranged for a passport and a flight out of the country.
On January 24, 2019, he began a harrowing journey traveling through 11 countries to get to the US-Mexico border. This included 5 days and nights trekking through the jungles of Colombia and Panama, where he was bitten by sand flies and infected with Leishmaniasis. He was detained for 3 weeks in the Veracruz Detention center in Mexico and then for 4 months in the Otay Detention Center in San Diego. Frank’s baby boy, Reign, was born in Cameroon while he was being held in the Otay Detention Center.
One day, as my husband Tom was dropping off donations at Casa Marianella, where Frank was staying temporarily, he met Franklin who offered to help carry donationsinto the office. Because of Frank’s friendly, curious and kind nature, they formed an immediate connection and became friends. Since then, Frank is a welcome guest in our home and has become a friend of mine as well. Getting to know Frank has opened our eyes to the human side of the horrific news stories we read.
Frank has a degree from the University of Buea in Cameroon, with an Accounting major. He is kind, smart, funny, highly motivated, respectful, curious, and surprisingly positive in light of the horrors he has experienced. His son Reign is now 4 months old. Frank’s only connection to his new son, family and friends is through WhatsApp.
On October 16, 2019 Franklin was officially granted asylum in the United States by a judge in San Diego. That was a great day!
Franklin is starting from zero. All his savings went to helping his mother and sister flee to Nigeria, and getting himself to the United States. When we met him his belongings consisted of what he could fit in a backpack.
Having been deeply touched by his story and his character, we want to raise money to help Frank with his living expenses including housing costs (rent including deposits, utilities including deposits, basic household needs) medical, transportation expenses, food, and clothing for the next several months until he can start saving money on his own. With his drive and determination we feel he will be very successful in his new life here and will contribute to society in ways big and small.
If you feel moved to help Franklin get a fresh start, please consider donating to this fundraiser. We will greatly appreciate it.
- Kate Fox
- Pat Davidson
- Christine Marie Thomas
- Katherine Calban