My name is Stephen Takyi, a level 300 Bachelor of Education (Accounting) student at the University of Cape Coast in Ghana. I was born on 25 January 1998 in a small village in Ghana, which gives my story a unique identity that is cultural, historical, and political. The village that I come from is called Kwaprow. It is near the University of Cape Coast and about 2 km away from Accra on the Tarkoradi highway. My parents are also from Ghana. My father, Eric Takyi was learning carpentry when he met his future wife and my mother, Comfort Araba Tafo. My mother was just a junior high school graduate who was actively involved in a petty trading business.
I am their first born child and grew up with my younger siblings Sandra, Emmanuel and Daniel. Even though we were a low-income family, the atmosphere in our home was warm and loving. All the children were encouraged to be competitive and strive for excellence. I had a very close relationship with my mother who devoted her time to raising her children. She would often take me along on her work as a petty trader when she was going to the market and other places.
As a child, I was a voracious learner, spending many hours reading story books and studying mathematics. I attended Kwaprow M/A school in the Cape Coast from Kindergarten until Stage 4. When I was 11 years old, my parents decided that I would live in Wawase, one of the villages in the central region of Ghana with my grandfather. “It is for the best reason” I remember my mother telling my father, as she urged him to accept the decision. My father did not have a stable job at that time, and there was a need for me to get a better education. My grandfather was a carpenter, and I learned so many skills from him during my stay there at the tender age of 11. During that time, I attended Charity Preparatory School. I lived with my grandfather for two years, until he passed away. I came back to my parents’ home and continued my schooling in Kwaprow M/A Junior High School. Attending Kwaprow helped me to grow in my academics and faith, and it gave me high moral standards. I also participated in the cadet corps while I was there. In 2014, after completing junior high, I attended Efutu Senior High School located in Jukwa district. Originally, I desired a career in science, much to my parents’ dismay. So, I changed my program to business. I continued in the cadet corps and became Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM). I was also a Compound Overseer.
Growing up, I was always happy with my family. I especially remember my parents telling us lots of stories. But, there were also strong memories of my parents having some wicked and serious fights. When I reached my teenage years, I noticed that they were not the parents I remembered growing up with, and that is when everything in my world seemed to change. During senior high school, all I can really remember about my parents is their constant battling. If they had one good day in the week, it was a miracle. My father drank heavily; he was irresponsible and didn’t sleep in the house. This was the main reason for their daily fights. My father used my mum as a punching bag, and I became very worried about this. Focusing in school got extremely hard, and everything around me became sad. I lived in a boarding house because of their constant fights. I didn’t like coming to the house. One day I did come home from school, and I was met by my mother in the children’s room. “I’m divorcing your father”, she said. She explained to me what that meant and her reasons why. I was very happy about it because my mother was being mistreated by my father. Because of the divorce, my father decided not to provide for us financially, which included my school fees. This is when my hustling began.
I was 17 years old and in my second year of senior high school, so I didn’t want to quit school. My mother’s petty trading business was not going successfully because she didn’t have any business ideas. So, during vacations, I would try to find work to do, usually construction work. At that time, it was very hard for me because I was too young for the nature of the work. But I continued to do it because I needed to pay my school fees. I did this until I completed senior high school in 2017, and I received admission to the University of Cape Coast. But, because there was no money, I had to stay at home and work throughout the year to earn money for the admission fees. I eventually earned my admission fees, which were GH 3000 cedis (US $515), and I entered the University of Cape Coast on 22 June 2018. My time at university was difficult because my only support came from my mother and me. While in school, I had to use the same strategy I did in senior high and work. But, this time it was very difficult because university learning is more intense than it was in high school. I found it difficult to cope.
During level 200, the corona virus outbreak happened, and schools in Ghana were closed down. So, I travelled to the western part of Ghana to work and gather money for level 300 fees. I met two men, who offered me work on their site. I worked for them for 6 months, but they refused to pay the workers, giving us many excuses. Around that time, the government announced the reopening of schools. My mother was also constantly calling me for money, but I couldn’t send my family anything. I was worried and going mad.
Mr. Deon Carter was sponsoring the work of these two men, Mr. Richard and Mr. Zito. One day, I got injured while working, and Mr. Deon came to give me medicine. Mr. Richard introduced me to Mr. Deon as a college student. Mr. Deon asked about which college I attended and the program I was in. The next day, Mr. Deon came and asked me who was supporting my schooling. I told him that it was just my mother and me. He then promised to ask his friends in the U.S. to help me. It was like a dream. I was very happy and surprised. The next day I sent him my transcript, and soon after, I met Miss Quinetha Frasier, the CEO and the founder of Global Foundation for Education and Economic Mobility (GFEEM).
Three weeks later, I received a full scholarship. Mr Deon and GFEEM paid my fees, rented a hostel for me, and bought me books and a laptop. They are currently supporting my schooling, and they are helping my family as well. I am honored to have received this scholarship from GFEEM. It has not only been an immense financial help for my family, but it has also provided me with the ease of mind to pursue my degree to the best of my ability. It truly means so much to me that I am following my passion at one of the most esteemed universities in west Africa on a scholarship. Mr. Deon Carter and Miss Quinetha Frasier have really changed my life.
I want to thank everyone involved in this scholarship for your generous gift that made my education attainable. I am proud to say I have worked hard to be where I am, but I certainly could not have done it without your help. I am forever grateful for your generosity. Thank you.