Spring 2017

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PATRONS | Sring 2017 20 JESPA IS LEARNING TO USE HIS NEW FINGERS ON THE PIANO. Jespa's Journey Young Cameroon burn survivor finds answer to his prayers at Torrance Memorial's Ambassador-Supported Burn Center. WRITTEN BY COLLEEN FARRELL PHOTOGRAPHED BY CHRISTINA HOUSE Jespa Awomah was used to seeing children start to cry or run away when they would first see him. In his small, mostly pagan village in Cameroon, Africa, his condition was viewed, even by his fam- ily, as a curse or bad omen. When he met people for the first time, he kept his eyes and head down. In 2012, by then age 12, Jespa continued to pray for the same thing he had prayed for every day since he could remember. "I prayed that if it was God's will, I would remain as I am, but if it was not God's will that something would hap- pen," he says. It seems that year someone was listening. Rebecca Akumbu also grew up in Jespa's vil- lage in Cameroon, but had moved away to a larger city where she had attended college and law school. In 2012, while she did work for an organization called Plant A Seed Africa, which provides books and school supplies to African children in need, a former classmate sent her a photo she just couldn't shake from her mind. It was a photo of Jespa. Jespa was born healthy, but at 10 months old he crawled into an open fire pit inside his fami- ly's hut. e closest medical care was a three-hour walk away. His mother made the journey on foot, holding Jespa in her arms. e most the one-room clinic could provide was a few bandages. He re-

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