Thursday, July 20, 2017

Today's MOZEN: Stephen's Story

Stephen Abankwa

Ghana is a country located in West Africa. There are several problems facing African countries including Ghana. These challenges include not only political issues, but also socio-economic ones, too. In recent times, the major challenge most African countries face, including Ghana, is Youth Unemployment.

In Ghana over 50% of the youth are unemployed. The situation is so dire that many of them have resorted to various means of surviving. Most of the youths who are not gainfully employed think that the surest way to solve their predicament is to leave the country in search of greener pastures to countries like Libya, Italy, America, Germany, and France among others. The situation is so bad that people are travelling through the dangerous Sahara Desert to the most common destination, Libya. More than half of the people who use the desert route do not reach their destination and usually die of thirst and hunger in the desert.
After arriving in Libya, their next destination usually is Italy. Because since these young travelers are poor and cannot afford plane tickets, they resort to using rickety boats to get across the Mediterranean Sea. Often, these travelers are killed by the harsh weather conditions or by their boat capsizing.

At the tender age of 16 years, I became an orphan when my parents were killed in an automobile accident. I have been struggling to survive and take care of my younger sister all by myself ever since. It is not an easy thing. There are no “regular” jobs here, so I do all kinds of menial labor just to earn a living. And, these do not pay well at all!

Here is an example: I got a job some time ago as a cleaner in a company. I would begin work as early as 4:30am and work until 3:30pm .At the end of the month, my employer paid me the meager amount of GH150.00 which is less than $50 in American currency! And, if you complain, they will sack you. Someone else as desperate or worse will come and work because there are no jobs or Labor Laws to speak of - Take It or Leave It is your only option.

Ever since I lost my parents, I have had to take care of myself and my younger sister, who is also in school, from the same, paltry salary. It got so difficult that I had to drop out of the University because I just could not handle work and school all by myself. I was willing to do anything legal, no matter how little it paid, just so that my sister and I could survive. It just never seemed to be enough. And, I work very hard. I even sold dog chains on the street just to be able to afford one square meal. I sometimes earn so little that I sleep on an empty stomach so that my sister will have enough to eat and there simply is not enough to go around.  Many people look down on us, but at least we have never begged in the street!
In Ghana, hard work does not pay and the rich keep getting richer while the poor never seem to escape poverty. Even in the schools, the rich are the ones who get scholarships for their children  - even if they are not performing up to standards. It made me so depressed that I felt like ending it all. However, when I looked at my sister I just could not. She is all I have and my reason for living. She is my priority and I do everything in my power to make sure that my sister is healthy and happy.
We continued to struggle until I met my Godfather, Frank LoBuono. With some financial assistance and lots of encouragement, he helped to give me a new lease on life. He has also introduced me to some others who help in the same way. They have assisted me both financially AND emotionally. Their help has enabled me to go back to school and attempt to finish my degree. I know it is the only thing that can eventually solve my problems. I applied to one of the best Universities in my country. I passed the entrance exam nd submitted all 8 papers required for the school in less than 3 months of attending classes. I was one of the few people who got admitted to the school of Information and Communication Technology. I will be beginning my second year when school reopens in September. My sister has successfully graduated from high school and she is waiting for her College entrance results. So, things are definitely looking up.
It has not been an easy life goes and the struggle continues. However, I know with my faith in God, nothing is impossible. I will always work hard to make good things happen. But, I also believe that God has been directing some important people in my life who are helping me achieve my goal to become an independent, successful man. I won’t fail.

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