DETROIT – We’ve followed the incredible journey of the “Beaumont Five” for two years.
The children are from rural Africa and were brought to Metro Detroit for life-changing surgeries. One by one, they’ve recovered and headed home. But how are they doing now?
In their rural villages, being born with a cleft lip or palate is considered a curse. Many of their families were forced to hide them away to save their lives.
- Part 1 -- 'Beaumont 5' begin journey of hope
- Part 2 -- 'Beaumont 5' share big reveal
- Part 3 -- Oldest of ‘Beaumont 5’ Prepares to Head
- Part 4 -- ‘Who is Doctor C?’
- Part 5 -- ‘Emotional farewell’
- Part 7 -- One of the ‘Beaumont 5’ returns to U.S.
One of the questions we’ve heard most often about the children is how they will be received when they go home.
Adama was the youngest of the “Beaumont Five,” just five weeks old when he arrived in the United States.
“He was itty bitty when he came, so he’s gained at least 10 pounds since being here,” said his host mom April DenBesten.
Local 4 visited the DenBesten family in Rockford as they prepared to send Adama home.
“We talk a lot about it. We know he’s going home, but there’s been a lot of tears shed already, and I know there will be more,” said DenBesten. “He’s just been a part of our family.”
But they know his parents are waiting.
“He’s their only child, so to be able to have him in her arms. I mean, as a mother that’s just emotional,” DenBesten.
Their family has big dreams for little Adama.
“I just hope that he’s somebody that makes a big difference, and I think he’s set up for that,” host dad Steve DenBesten said.
Salamata was five months old when she came to live with the Weiss family. She’ll be 13 months old when she heads home.
“Our family will never be the same,” said host mom Betsy Weiss. “We see things through a different lens now. I think we are more patient. I think we learned to be a lot more grateful.”
Weiss isn’t worried about Salamata bonding with her parents, but she does have concerns.
“I think my main concern is food. She is a big eater,” said Weiss. “Knowing that food is limited and scarce. An average meal is just cornmeal and water and thinking about her eating that right now is almost laughable. She would just spit it out because she has learned that she can have different tastes.”
It’s a concern shared by the host families of Zoey, Aime and Abdoul.
Ray of Hope Medical Missions founder Rebecca Ghent is quick to reassure them.
“Everyone’s worried about these kids are going back from this very material world, and everything is given to them, to the bare necessities. And sometimes the bare necessities are even difficult, but I can assure you that all of these kids are very well loved,” said Ghent.
And one by one, the “Beaumont Five” have made the long journey back to Africa.
Photos show Adama back in his mother’s arms and a year later growing and healthy.
“Last we heard, he was doing well. He was speaking, he was walking,” said Ghent.
In their culture, adults don’t smile for photographs, but Aime’s mom was apparently unable to contain her joy at their reunion. She is grinning.
Just two months later, Aime contracted malaria and was hospitalized. He was treated and recovered.
His family has now left Burkina Fasa.
“Aime, his family had actually decided to go to Cote d’Ivoire,” said Ghent. “They went into the refuge status of Cote d’Ivoire, so I don’t suspect that we’ll hear very much from them.”
Salamata’s parents said they were beyond grateful for the love and care their daughter received while she was away from them.
Zoey was the oldest of the “Beaumont Five.”
“She was so excited to get home, and so, she had so many memories of her mom and her baba,” said Ghent. “She was ready.”
After reuniting with her dad, Zoey was excited to go back to her village.
“Zoey, we haven’t gotten a lot of updates, but we know she’s very far removed from the city, but was doing great last time we heard,” said Ghent.
Abdoul was the last of the “Beaumont Five” to go home. His young mom was grateful to have him home and healthy.
“They sent these children out of love, so certainly I fully expect that they’ll bring them back into love,” said Ghent. “But how will they fit into the fold of the community? How will the community react? The reality is that these communities, they see this miracle, they see what these medical advances can do, they see the survivor in this child.”
Ray of Hope Medical Missions has brought almost 60 children to United States for surgery in the past seven years. They do it all with donations and have an all-volunteer staff.
To learn more or make a donation, click here.