BRONZEVILLE — Jacob Amgbey finally will return home to Ghana Saturday after more than 25 years, the last several of which have been spent in assisted-living homes.
Workers at the Bronzeville Park assisted living home where Amgbey has lived for the last 1½ years, have been planning to send him home since June and finally have worked out the details.
"We couldn't find a companion to go with him," Bronzeville Park staff member Joyce Molino said. "This is the first time we could find someone who is willing to take [it] on. They're taking on the responsibility of someone getting home 8,000 miles. It’s a pretty heavy responsibility, and you don’t want to just turn him over to just anybody.
"Then I had to get his travel documents extended because they were only good through Sept. 15," she said. "I had to go back to the embassy and do that whole process."
Molino eventually found "a friend of a friend" that the family and staff deemed trustworthy to bring Amgbey back to Ghana for the first time in 25 years. Molino worked with Amgbey's nephew to find the man who will accompany him on the trip. Amgbey has two sons in Ghana he plans to live with when he returns.
Molino said Amgbey has suffered from a mild form of dementia since he was robbed and had a heart attack in 2006. She said preparing for the trip has made him "a little spun-out."
"He's been fine. He's a little confused about all this, this is big for him. I think he'll do fine once he's on the plane and all that is taken care of," Molino said. "It's hard for him to understand the concept of this, but I think as they go through the steps of getting to the airport and getting on the plane, then he'll relax."
The staff has planned a small get-together Saturday for family and friends to say goodbye. They also will have a stretch limo pick him up from the home at 11 a.m. and take him to O'Hare Airport to catch his 3:30 p.m. flight on Air Italia. At the gathering, friends and family will give Amgbey suitcases, sandals, clothes and other gifts for his trip.
"We miss everyone when they leave, but they don't leave very often. Everyone should be home if it's an option," Molino said. "We're a nice place to visit, but it's better to be home."
Molino helped raise $700 that Amgbey will be able to use as pocket change once he's home, and an anonymous donor paid the airfare for the trip.