The story of Kofi Nyarko, and his interactions with the Franciscan missionaries in Kofi’s native land of Ghana, West Africa, is truly one of sustained impact.
Prior to meeting Brother Vincent Vivian, a Franciscan Friar Conventual with the Our Lady of Angels Province, in 1987, Kofi was a 13-year-old boy suffering from leprosy. He had the disease nearly his entire life but did not know it. However, Brother Vincent, who arrived in Ghana as a missionary a decade earlier and had devoted his life to serving those afflicted with leprosy, recognized it right away.
He took Kofi into a home he had established to care for children with leprosy and got him the medical attention which cured him of the terrible affliction.
Over the many years that followed, Brother Vincent continued to care for Kofi and other children of Ghana, providing all the medical attention they needed.
Brother Vincent’s desire to serve and care for the sick was embedded in him when he was a child, when he helped care for his twin brother, Richard, who was ill much of his life.
The impact of those experiences, as well as the example of St. Francis, eventually inspired him to volunteer to serve in his Province’s new mission in Ghana. Not long after arriving in Africa, he learned of a hospital devoted to caring for leprosy patients and he felt compelled to visit.
“It was so unbelievably horrifying to see the way those human beings were left to live,” said Brother Vincent, in remembering that first visit. “But yet something was drawing me there.”
Through his work, Brother Vincent helped save the lives of countless children in Ghana and planted the seeds for a man — Kofi Nyarko — who would devote his life to working with international health agencies, traveling the world to help eradicate leprosy.
After more than 30 years apart, Kofi visited the Shrine of St. Anthony in Ellicott City, Maryland, for a touching reunion with Brother Vincent.
The story of Kofi and Br. Vincent illustrates the incredible impact of the Mission work of the Friars — and the donors whose generosity makes it possible.
For more information, or to donate, visit our web site at www.franciscanmission.org.
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