Saviour beams with joy after signing Saviours Story, the book written about his jounrey. He takes a look at his signature and cant help but smile. (Scarlett Lewis)
Saviour beams with joy after signing Saviours Story, the book written about his jounrey. He takes a look at his signature and cant help but smile.

Scarlett Lewis

A story of faith and survival

February 10, 2023

Abandoned. Unable to walk. Alone. 

Freshman Saviour Nlagnabe was born in a village in Northern Ghana. Three years later he would be deserted in a bush by his parents. After the discovery that their son had a birth defect called Cerebral Palsy, they believed that this was a result of an evil spirit and that he would bring bad luck to the village, according to Saviour’s Story. Saviour would eventually be placed in an orphanage, where he would meet his future legal guardians Joan and Bill Tucker.  

Cerebral Palsy is a congenital disorder due to abnormal brain development before birth. This disorder affects body movement and muscle coordination. 

Joan and Bill Tucker would later bring Saviour over to the U.S. to get the medical attention he needed, and spread his story and message through their book, Saviour’s Story.

The Tuckers originally worked with their church to connect with the Nazareth Home for God’s Children. This orphanage was established by Sister Stan Mumuni in Ghana, who spread awareness about the home through Joan and Bill’s church, eventually leading Joan to go to Ghana and help Sister Stan Mumuni with the orphanage.

“As soon as I heard her story about the spirit children and what was done to them and how she at that time had 32 of them. I just knew in my heart that I had to go and help her physically as well as financially,” Joan said. 

Joan, being a retired nurse, decided to go over to Ghana having no experience traveling overseas, or of the country she was traveling to. But in Feb. of 2015 she was on a plane to Ghana to help the orphanage, and use her skills to help the children who needed it. 

“The children always gather around when someone new comes in, they sing to you at first, as you’re coming in, in the car after they’ve picked you up and they’ll be singing a song on the porch. You are welcome in the name of the Lord,” Joan said. 

The orphanage was filled with many “spirit children”, who ended up there for multiple reasons. Whether it be because their mother died during childbirth, or another member of the village claimed the child came to them in a dream threatening them, making them a spirit child. Joan describes her account of meeting these children in the orphanage in the book. 

When she first showed up to the village, Joan met Saviour in the singing circle, before he had had any treatment for his Cerebral Palsy. 

“Little Savior was always down there crawling around on the floor with the little ones and he always had this big smile. He didn’t say much at the time, we actually at first thought he couldn’t speak. He would just smile and nod his head,” Joan said. “But once he got here [the U.S.], he started talking like crazy. He said it was because nobody talked to him when he was down there on the floor, the babies didn’t talk and that’s usually who he was hanging out with.”

While doing other work with other spirit children, Joan was inspired and found the need to help Saviour through other people’s struggles she witnessed on her journey. She saw an adult man while in Uganda, also with Cerebral Palsy, crawling around the streets with flip flops on his hands. 

“He was crossing this busy street just trying to beg for food or money. My heart just broke, because I thought that will be Saviour, if we don’t get him some help, and that he deserves so much more than calling with flip flops on his hands to beg,” Joan said. 

In order to try and get Saviour the help he needed, Joan and Bill decided to bring him over to the U.S. to Shriners Children’s Hospital in Greenville, S.C.. 

“The medicine and medical practices over there are a little antiquated, or very expensive, one of the two. But we were able to get Savior surgery for his legs, to straighten his legs out, and everything from Shriners, and they donated everything,” Bill said. 

After months of back and forth between the two countries because of the U.S.’s immigration laws, and a lack of treatment at the orphanage due to the large number of kids, Joan and Bill were able to gain custody of Saviour. By doing this, he was able to stay here without violating those immigration policies, and was able to get the help he needed. 

“The doctors originally thought that when they fixed his legs that the best he’d be able to do is sit in a wheelchair, and that he would never actually walk and within several weeks, he was forcing himself to walk,” Bill said. “I just mentioned it to him one day jokingly. I said, ‘wouldn’t it be great if at the next doctor’s visit you walk on your crutches over to the doctor’, and that’s exactly what he did.”

Saviour adjusted to life in Mt. Pleasant quicker than expected, and he loved his new life here, as Joan and Bill expressed. Starting at Cario Middle School before coming to Wando, he found his love for school and made friends easily. 

“He’s always been very open, very trusting of people that he meets. Anybody he meets is immediately his friend, unless proven otherwise. That’s just the way he is. I think over at the orphanage because he couldn’t stand or anything before the surgery, he would be dragging himself around the orphanage with his hands, and he only got to interact with the babies, because all the other kids were all running around. So as soon as he could make friends, he started making friends as fast as he could,” Bill said. 

Exceptional education teacher, Tiffany Anderson, teaches Saviour while also being his case manager. 

“Because of what he’s gone through, it helps him work harder and want to achieve more. He has such a positive outlook despite everything that’s happened in the past. He doesn’t use any of the struggles he’s had in the past to make excuses for himself or anything like that,” Anderson said. “He just uses it as motivation to want to do better and I think he realizes he’s had this great second chance to really be something in life and he definitely is making the most of it. He loves to make friends and he’s always smiling and he’s always looking for new people to meet.”

Anderson sees and helps Saviour make goals towards his future at school, and in a pathway after high school as well. 

“He talks a lot about working with animals, in some form. Right now he started to complete some of his part of the credential program which is work based learning hours, so he’s been helping the group of students who put together packages of treats and he really enjoys doing that,” Anderson said. “He’s also really good with technology and he’s been working in the media center a lot and he loves the 3D printer. I think as the years go on, I think he’ll have a lot of options because he likes to learn a lot.”

Savior continues to make an impact on those around him at school, through his motivation and dedication to his work and passions. 

“As a teacher, sometimes you have your days where you’re just feeling kinda down because you want students to enjoy learning and I think what Saviour has done for me this year is reignite that spark of a student who is really motivated and wants to learn and if you put your mind to it, you can see progress pretty fast,” Anderson said. 

Despite his quick adjustment to his new life and continuous success in school as well, Saviour still has fears that hold him back that stem from his childhood experiences. 

“I love his honesty and his openness to new things. But, one of his biggest fears is being abandoned again. Because that’s what happened with him before the orphanage, and with another couple that almost adopted him,” Joan said. “There was a Park West children’s festival that we went to, and they had all kinds of games and things. He was in his wheelchair, and he had his phone, so I said ‘I’m gonna stand back and let you go and so you can talk with your friends.’ He was afraid that he would get lost, he was afraid to be alone.”

According to Joan, in an attempt to try and give Saviour some independence, she realized he wasn’t ready for it. It would take a while before he would be able to go off on his own, and that was ok because he wasn’t ready for it yet, and he didn’t need to be, as Joan expressed. 

Because of Joan and Bill, Saviour got to experience a new world he never would have had the opportunity to experience. Leaving the orphanage behind, he was able to get surgery, physical therapy, an education, a loving family, and a hope for the future. 

“If he was still back there he would just be one of 100 children, and there are a couple more that are like him that don’t walk. But over there, it’s like organized chaos sometimes with all these children, trying to keep them all in one place. They just try to make a lot of organized activities for them, so I’m sure he would never have learned to read, he’s learning to read now,” Joan said. “I don’t know how much he would have been able to do there, because there’s not a whole lot of difference. Every day is the same, seasons are the same. I’m sure he would have had a pretty boring life if he had stayed in Ghana.”

Joan and Bill attribute their journey with Saviour to God, with Saviour enlightening that journey and strengthening it along the way, according to Saviour’s Story.  

“He’s able to see things in such a way. I mean, through him, I see the beauty in every little bit of nature, what God’s given us, because he just observes everything around him. And I think that’s very important,” Joan said. 

Joan and Bill decided to capture their experience in their journey with Saviour and write it in Saviour’s Story, to help the orphanage through the profits they make from the book that are donated to the orphanage, and to share their story with the world. 

“The fact that he was where he was and escaped death, and has come this far, that’s a pretty incredible story. I really wanted people to know it, mostly not for him and not for our glory, but to glorify God and to help sister in any way we could,” Joan said. “We just still believe that this is all in God’s hands. Either God’s going to give us the strength we need to keep going and all there is for us to do is just the best that we can do now, and to just believe that God has a plan for him. We can be part of helping them get there.”

Saviour has helped Joan and Bill relight their life, as he keeps them young as they said. While he has learned much from his experience and his journey getting to where he is now, his strength and determination has inspired those around him as well. 

“He has certainly taught me never to give up,” Bill said. “And he has taught me that anything is really possible if you set your mind to it. He’s taught me that if you put your mind to something, you can definitely accomplish it.” 

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