In the process of working on these papers, the legal aide mentioned that it was expensive to sponsor a foreign student and that I would need to work with the Knox County School officials to get the proper paperwork. It turned out she was more than right!
After some phone calls, I got in touch with the Transfer Office. The gentleman there had attempted to get four other students to the US in the past, but none of them had come. This did not bode well, but we gave it a try. Together, we completed the required forms and submitted them. In that process, I learned that in order to educate a child in Knox County, in 2016, it cost $9,200. Since Ben is not my adopted child or court appointed ward, I have to pay those fees. My taxes that I’ve paid don’t count for anything. In addition, he needed assurance that I had money to pay for Ben’s housing, food, clothing and activities. He asked how much that would be. I said, “Do you have children?” After some thought, he moaned gently and said, “$22,000”. I sent him documentation that I have that much money, though not in one place.
Then the waiting began. Part of the form had to be signed by the parents, and I assumed incorrectly that the embassy would send the form to the parents in Kenya. The school was to send the forms, but neither of us seemed to know that. After I had left the country, I was informed that these forms had to be posted/mailed or faxed, they could not be emailed! It is hard to believe that is the case in this day and age, but so it is.
I pleaded with the gentleman in the Transfer Office to please send the form via courier and I would pay him when I returned. He posted the letter. It didn’t come and didn’t come to Kenya. Our goal was to apply for the visa by the beginning of May, but by the end of May we didn’t have the paper for Ben’s parents to sign. Finally, I appealed to my dear, long-suffering cousin, Harriet, to intervene. She went to the office and got a second copy of the documents. She sent them by courier at considerable cost, and would you believe it, BOTH sets of documents arrived on the same day!
Finally at the beginning of June, all the paperwork was in and the application was completed. It took about two and a half weeks to schedule the interview with the embassy staff. On Saturday before the interview was scheduled, Clène discovered that she had the wrong date in mind. The interview was two days earlier that she had thought! Ben was collected from his school, and they all went along with every type of paper they could imagine they would be asked for. In the end, the interview took less than five minutes, and Ben was given permission to travel to the USA. In another two weeks, Clène was able to collect his passport with the visa inside.
On the 26th of July, Ben finished his school exams and on 31st July, we got on a plane for the 30+-hour journey, arriving just before midnight to Knoxville on 1st August!