Staff Spotlight: My Life
This week we hear from long time Expo staff and friend, Charles. He tells us about his life growing up in Antoa and his hopes for the future.
Sometimes, in order to become who you’re meant to be, you have to face certain challenges. Growing up without a father is something I wish I hadn’t experienced, but even so, it has made me that much stronger, and I love sharing my story because it motivates my listeners.
My parents are from a little village called Antoa, in Ghana. My dad left for Nigeria when I was in my mother’s womb, and never provided us with any financial or emotional support. At the age of 9, I decided to start working on a palm wine farm with my grandfather, no longer able to bear witness to the pain and suffering my mom went through while trying to provide for her family. I helped him harvest and sell palm wine, and used the money I made to buy books, food, and pay for extra classes at school. I continued this through the start of high school, despite the fact that my friends made fun of me. I blocked out their words, determined to continue my education and knowing that working with my grandfather was the only way I’d be able to do so.
To my deep disappointment, there came a day when my grandfather and I ran out of palm trees suitable for tapping wine. I was in form 2 in high school. However, a silver lining came in the form of an American NGO that wanted to run a peer tutoring program at my school. “Now is the time for my hard work to pay off,” I thought- and it did. I was among the 5 students selected to take part in this program, whereby I would be tutoring junior high students and would be eligible for a scholarship, awarded by the organization. My determination again paid off when I won the scholarship and was able to pay a portion of my school fees, which helped me complete my high school education.
When I finally met my dad, at the age of 12, he was very sick. He couldn’t even walk. After a few years, he died. Although he hadn’t played a role in raising me, his death nonetheless affected me emotionally. It was difficult to live in a small village without a dad. People would point at me, saying things like, “that’s the boy without a father.” Even so, I didn’t let their words discourage me. My grandfather was there to support me emotionally, and encourage me to reach my full potential. I was devastated when he died just as I was about to write my finals at the end of high school. However, he had taught me how to stay strong and stick to my goals. As such, in spite of all of the difficulties I have gone through in life, I remain determined to stick to and follow through with a personal goal of mine, about which I am very passionate: I want to be the first member of my family to go to university.
I would like to study business at University and then own a school or some other businesses in my village and Ghana as a whole. I will use the knowledge I will gain at the university to run my school and my other businesses. I will be interested in employing graduates from my village to work at my businesses. This is because not furthering your education is one of the biggest problem in my village. After university here in Ghana, it becomes really difficult to get job. So I would like to employ university graduates in my village and Ghana as whole to reduce the number unemployed graduates here. I know this will also motivate the next generation to take their education serious as they will have hope that they will get job after completing university or come up with their own businesses or something different that will help develop the country. Lastly, I would love to continue giving scholarships to brilliant but needy students to further their education, so their lives can be changed for the better, as mine was.