Pipeline from Africa

Immigrants from Ghana do much of the low-paying, back-breaking work of caring for frail Americans in their homes. Back home, they’re seen as success stories.
It had been 12 years since Rita Sarpong (right) had seen her family in Ghana when she arrived for a visit in February. Her sister Ellen Sarpong (center), who married while Rita was away, greeted her. Six of Rita’s seven siblings live in Ghana. On Rita’s other side is Precious, the beloved daughter of a neighbor. (Michele McDonald for The Boston Globe)
Rita was excited to be returning to Ghana after 12 years. (Michele McDonald for The Boston Globe)
Rita’s nephew Nana Sarpong Owusu Duah (in purple shirt) held the hand of his sister, Tracy Owusu Dua, as he met his aunt. The children’s mother was on the right. (Michele McDonald for The Boston Globe)
In Newton, Rita Sarpong tended to her 90-year-old patient at his home. She works two jobs as a home health care aide. (Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)
A Ghanaian barber cut a customer’s hair at a shop in Worcester. Worcester is home to one of the largest Ghanaian communities in the United States. Many Ghanaian home care workers live there, and many shops and restaurants cater to people from Ghana. (Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)
Gloria Camara took cash from a customer sending a “remittance” home to Ghana. Her shop is on Main Street in Worcester. (Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)
Members of the Worcester Ghanaian community gathered to watch the Super Bowl at Anokye Krom, a Ghanaian-owned African restaurant in Worcester. (Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)
Ghanaian women danced and took selfies while celebrating Ghana’s Independence Day at the VFW in Natick in March. (Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)
Congregants took part in worship services at the New England Ghanaian Seventh-day Adventist Church in Worcester in February. (Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)
Congregants at the New England Ghanaian Seventh-day Adventist Church in Worcester. (Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)
Caregiver Aba Owusu watched as her client Ned DeRubeis, 91, shaved at his home in Newton in February. Aba, a visa lottery winner from Ghana, spent four overnight shifts a week tending to DeRubeis’s needs. He died in May. (Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)
Aba Owusu sat in her apartment kitchen in Pawtucket on a day off. (Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)
Naomi Kuukua Kumi, who is called Kuukua, packed the car with the Owusu children’s backpacks and lunchboxes in the morning before school in Accra, Ghana. Aba Owusu, their mother, lives and works in the United States as a home health aide. The car was totaled when Aba located it on Craig’s list. She bought it and sent it to Ghana, where her husband, William Yaw Owusu (right), bought replacement parts from roadside vendors and had it rebuilt and painted to look new. (Michele McDonald for The Boston Globe)
Yaw and Yaa Owusu ran ahead of their cousin Lydia Obeng to the well in her neighborhood in Anyaa, a suburb of Accra, on a visit after school. Although there are many big, new houses being built all around Accra, the water and power supply is intermittent, and only about 30 percent of the roads are paved, according to a 2016 study by the Ghanaian Institution of Engineers. (Michele McDonald for The Boston Globe)
Aba’s children, Yaw (center) and Yaa, gargled with mouthwash, part of their morning routine, as their father, William Yaw Owusu, got ready for work. He is the deputy editor of the Daily Guide, a widely read private newspaper in Ghana. (Michele McDonald for The Boston Globe)
William took the children to visit his sister and her family in Anyaa, a suburb on the outskirts of Accra. William tied Yaw’s shoe in front of his sister’s shop, while his brother-in-law, Isaac Obeng, tossed Yaa affectionately. Nancy Obeng, William’s sister, has often helped with the children since Aba has been in the US. But the Obengs recently moved to the outskirts of the city and opened a shop (with a freezer paid for by Aba). It can take close to an hour to drive there. Potholes are so big and common that people in Accra have taken to planting plantain crops in them in protest. (Michele McDonald for The Boston Globe)
Aba talked to her children over Skype while at her apartment in Pawtucket. (Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)
In Accra, Aba’s daughter Yaa, 4, asked for a photo of her mother and then held it on her head as she watched television. (Michele McDonald for The Boston Globe)
Rita guided her 90-year-old patient through his morning exercises at his Newton home. (Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)
Rita at the Newton home where she is a home health aide. (Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)
In this blog: Big Picture