Scholarships from Abroad – part two

In part one, 18 students from the village are selected to receive a scholarship to high school.

The Plan

was for Lynn to transfer funds via Western Union and have EcoBank issue checks to the schools in the name of the students and have the headmistress distribute those checks.

What Actually Happened

EcoBank – the Pan African Bank is our bank. We have a challenging relationship. Expediency and efficiency are verbs unknown to them. I wrote about our first adventure (when we tried to open a bank account efficiently) and my last involved writing withdraw slip by hand, copying a “sample” they provided on blank paper (EcoBank does not print withdraw slips, and then charges $2 to with withdraw money). And of course there is the fun game we play with their ATMs we call like to call ATM roulette – but today I’m the wheel instead of the ball, just hoping the ball of funds will land on my number and tuition checks can be issued.

I have an amazing mother-in-law who, when she was wanting something from a large institution, would make an appointment and then plop herself down in the office of the person who had the power to grant her request with a good book, empty bladder and no intention of leaving.  It always worked.  Today, I’m channeling Nelda as I walk into Ecobank with an empty bladder, a fully charged Kindle, and a firm resolve to do battle with their bureaucracy.

I guess it could have been worse had I not won the heart of sweet Bernice who helped me with the paperwork.

In Ghana there is always paperwork, and even if much of the information is the same, one has to fill out every stinking form. By hand. Bernice really wanted to just transfer the money into the accounts of the different high schools, but we didn’t have their account numbers.

I think…Maybe if these high schools had answered their phones (or provided working numbers). Maybe if they had responded to my emails. But none did, so the only other option was for me to personally drive to each school to get those account numbers… and that is not going to happen today. So checks it is…

Bernice hands me a 2 inch stack of check forms, and a quick calculation has it taking 4-6 hours to complete, a task I am not excited about as it has me finishing about bank closing time. So I ask Bernice to help, and she balks.

Now I wasn’t raised Catholic, and I didn’t have a Jewish Mother, but as a pastor I do know something about the guilt those two faiths are famous for. I really feel bad for heaping guilt on her, but what alternative did I have?

“If I don’t finish today, I say, there are going to be eighteen disappointed students who will not be going to SHS and its going to be on your conscience, because Bernice, I’m doing everything I can to help them”

God Bless You Bernice!

Three hours later Bernice and I have the forms are filled out.  Now about the money…

It wasn’t all EcoBank’s fault, Western Union played a supporting role by choosing not to make funds available, just to take Lynn’s money, issue codes, and do nothing because it was Africa. Seriously, what did they think was going to happen when they sat on the money until Lynn called, and they had a personal interview?

So I had hours to read, pray, and nap.

That should be the title of my autobiography. Read, Pray and Nap. 

Western Union’s motto is “Moving Money for Better,” and fourteen hours after they said the money was available, they finally moved that money to EcoBank, and the check writing process begins. 

Its 3pm and the bank closes in an hour. 

That night I was teaching a course on prayer, and the topic was Dealing with Disappointment. I figured even with the hours of prayer (and naps) today would provide plenty of illustrative material on dealing with disappointment, especially now that the bank has closed, and no checks have been issued.

This isn’t the first my afterhours experience with EcoBank. It seems their policy is whoever is in the bank when the doors close will be helped. I stood, or rather sat my ground even when the formerly bored security guard came over tried to shame me into leaving. Really, I’ve been here six hours, and you’re shaming me?

With the doors are locked, a party atmosphere breaks out, and suddenly the room develops compassion, “Oh! You are still here?” “You have been here all day! Its too much-ooooo”

Ninety minutes post closing time, Bernice, my sweet angel, shows up with the checks. She is proud, I am relieved, and ready for some food and a bathroom. Time per check: about 30 minutes.

Adams hands Student Checks to Auntie Margaret

[Handing Checks to Headmistress Margaret ]

A few days later My Guys hand the checks to the school headmistress, Margaret, who later will distribute the checks to the students to take to their schools.

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