FRISCO, Colo. (CBS4) – After months of fighting to get a visa for a poverty-stricken Haitian boy to come to the United States to attend school, a Frisco family has much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.
Jaci Ohayon and her family greeted 14-year-old Jonas at Denver International Airport last week, just in time to celebrate the holiday together.
Ohayon says they first met the boy while he was shining shoes on the streets for income to support his family in Haiti. The Ohayon family was there for a year where they built a friendship with the child who struggled to make enough money to buy food.
They tell us the child walked from Haiti to the Dominican Republic on his own to search for a better life.
The chance encounter on the streets turned into a months long battle to obtain proper documentation for Jonas to come to Colorado to attend school. The private Peak School in Frisco offered him a spot.
He will begin classes next week. A full scholarship, provided by another Summit County family, will pay his way at the tune of $120,000.
The Ohayon family worked through the bureaucratic process, sending letters and finally convincing the government to allow the boy to come here for school until he graduates high school.
“We got him on a plane the day after we got word from Governor-elect Jared Polis’ office that the pleas to immigration officials had paid off and the visa was approved,” Ohayon told CBS4 on Wednesday.
Jonas’ mother encouraged her son to come to the U.S. because she believes he would never had the opportunity to get a proper education.
The child has a long road ahead of him; learning English, how to read and write and adapting to life in the hustle and bustle of a resort mountain community, not to mention seeing snow for the first time.