SHARON — For the past two years, First Selectman Brent Colley has hosted a 16-year-old girl from Ghana through a female scholarship program.
“She has become like an adopted daughter to us,” Colley said.
Through the program Rising Stars of Africa, Colley and his family has hosted Jessica Lomo, who has attended school with his daughter, Emma, at the Berkshire School in Sheffield, Mass.
But now she’s “stuck,” he said.
After going to Ghana in late June to visit her family, Lomo has not been able to return to the U.S. Colley is asking the community for help bring her back by Aug. 26 — in time to start school with the rest of her classmates.
While Lomo has a round-trip airline ticket to the United States and a current visa, she needs to schedule an appointment with the U.S. Embassy in Africa as a requirement for returning — and was told she may not be able to get one until next April.
“We are currently struggling to get Jessica and four other students over to the USA due to no visa appointments,” said Jordan Palmer, founder of the charity Akwaaba Volunteers Ghana, who is helping Lomo.
As each day passes, Lomo said she’s been growing more anxious.
“It’s almost time for school and it will mean a lot to me to get back on campus to experience a much exciting school year in comparison to the past COVID class times,” she wrote in a text message.
Colley said Lomo has become more outgoing since she first arrived in the United States.
“When she first came, she was really quiet and spent a lot of time in her room,” he said. “Over the course of time, we got to know her. She learned how to swim. We taught her how to fish. She’s part of our family.”
“She gets along with anybody, she works really hard. She is a straight-A student,” he added.
Colley said Lomo is a standout soccer player entering her junior year of high school. He’s hoping to get others to join the effort to help bring Lomo back to the U.S.
“It will be all hands on deck,” he said. “We can make this happen if we all ban together.”
Lomo, who would often practice soccer for two hours a day on a hill next to Colley’s house, has aspirations to play in college.
Litchfield resident Dave Shannon has been coaching Lomo for two years.
“She is a great role model to the other kids,” Shannon said. “She never misses a practice, is a super skilled player, and gets along with everybody really great.”
He added he’s hoping “the word gets out and the right people hear the message and we can cut through the red tape and get her back as soon as possible.”
Colley is hoping members of the community can contact the U.S. Embassy in Africa to request an appointment for Lomo by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.