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My Story of Survival, School and Hope

By Evans Klu

I'm Evans Klu, a young boy who was born and raised in a slum of Gbi-Akplamafu, Ghana.

I'm the youngest of three children, raised by a single mother who worked tirelessly to ensure we didn’t go hungry. She labored long hours, taking on odd farm jobs to make ends meet. Life in our village was challenging, each day was a struggle, and we ate the same things every day: Banku with hot pepper and sometimes boiled Cassava. 

Growing up, my siblings and I helped our mother on the farm. School was a luxury we could not afford. Even so, my mom devoted her life to raising us, instilling in us the values of kindness, hard work, and perseverance.

I learned character before I learned to read. My mom taught us the importance of empathy, urging us to always lend a helping hand to those in need, despite being in desperate need ourselves. She shared stories of her own struggles and triumphs, inspiring us to dream big and never give up, no matter the obstacles we faced.

When I was 9 years old, our community members started accusing my mom of child abuse due to my lack of education and enrollment in school. It was not that she didn’t long for me to be in school. Education is “free” in Ghana, but nothing is truly free. Our public school system is neglected in the poor parts of Ghana which means no support for uniforms, school stationeries, exam fees, meals during the day, water, and so on.

Striving to Learn

Somehow my mom got us into school when I was 9 years old and by brother was13. To this day, I do not know how she did it. To this day, I do not know how we did it - but we did. And so it began.

School went okay until l I reached grade 5. My brother and I were sent home from school because we couldn't pay the examination fees. My mother, despite her best efforts, couldn't find the money to cover the exam costs. That meant we couldn't continue in school. I was 14, disappointed as I left school, but I tried to keep my head held high. I returned home to help my mom on the farm. In theory, this would help our household survive, but I struggled to contribute enough food and money. I could not ease her burden or mine. I needed a new plan, once again. When I turned 15, I decided to leave home and head to a nearby town called Wegbe where schools were more abundant and odd jobs were more accessible to survive and attend school. With community help and my own hustle, I paid the minimum needed to be in school and rent a small room to sleep. Admittedly, I suffered from hunger and longing to be home. I persevered and reached grade 8. The public school systems in rural Volta Region Ghana are poorly resourced and my education quality is minimal. I knew this in my heart, and my poor exam scores verified that my education was far behind. Despite progressing to grade 8, I was not ready to take my BECE exam scores for Secondary School. I didn't even know if that was possible. I needed to improve my academic ability, but how?

I looked into local private schools in Wegbe because they were better resourced with greater focus on comprehension and more student attention. Determined to go, I continued my public school education while working odd jobs to save up for private school. Finally at 18, I started private school and re-enrolled in grade 8. The private school felt advanced, as if the students enrolled had been in school all their life. I did not have much school during my childhood and my voice felt small amongst the loud voices of students and teachers around me. I made my way into a better school, but now I was so far behind my peers. A wave of embarrassment would hit me every time I entered a classroom and I felt dumb. I was sinking through the cracks and no one seemed to notice. I wish I understood at that time, that I was a smart child who simply lacked schooling and proper support. My life seemed destined for the hopeless cycle of odd jobs, farming, and the mundane struggles of poverty.

Finding My Way with Mako 

Thankfully, life is full of surprises. One day, hopelessness turned into hope. I went to play football (soccer) with community kids in an open field - a pastime that nourished me with joy. A boy named Solomon was playing soccer that day and he noticed I was down. I shared my struggles with Solomon and he told me his own stories of struggle and hardship, and how he found new hope at a nearby school and boarding home, an NGO that offers support for education and cares for impoverished children. I had not heard of NGOs, but asked Solomon to tell me more. Now known as Mako Children’s Center, I learned that there were many children like me striving to stay in school without financial ability or parental support. Solomon encouraged me not to give up on my education, and suggested I try visiting his school and home - a place where I could be seen and heard.

A few days later, I made the long 2 hour journey by bike to visit the school and boarding home. Solomon’s encouragement and my own desperation was enough to take a leap. By fate, I visited when Cassie, the President of Mako’s US Board who partners with the local Ghana operation, was visiting from America. I discovered that she helped this home and school run from afar - that night, she was sitting on the floor of the boarding home compound, talking to the kids about careers, education and determination. I was invited to join as a guest, but felt at home. I found myself safe in a den surrounded by other kids who came from similar struggles of poverty and hardship. Discovering a place where food, shelter and education could be possible was a miracle to me. Cassie’s priority was clearly to share her love and help kids realize their potential. Soon enough, that included me too. On that fateful night, I introduced myself to Cassie and asked her for guidance on how to become an automotive engineer. Ultimately, that question sparked a long talk, just her and I. I did not ask for help with school fees or food - I asked for knowledge. We sat side by side talking as if we were lifelong friends. As the sun went down; I shared my story and my dreams. She spoke with wisdom and kindness; offering her own journey of struggles in education and life to success. Her words sparked a realization within me. I realized that despite my current circumstances, I possessed untapped potential. She saw something within me that I hadn’t seen in myself, and I started to recognize my mind and my heart as valuable and capable. A few days later, I was admitted into their program. School and food would be supported by the organization. I quit working odd jobs, I left the public school I was struggling in, and entered a new chapter of life. My endless pursuit of education changed everything. I would soon realize that to change my reality, I had to keep trying. The more I learned and evolved, the brighter my future became.

I did not know where my support would truly start or end, but over the years, Mako Children's Fund and Cassie’s individual advocacy provided mentorship, guidance, and resources that helped me navigate the challenges of growing up and transitioning into adulthood. Thanks to their unwavering support, I’ve not only graduated from high school but also went on to get a job to earn a living. Today, I stand as a testament to the transformative power of kindness and generosity.

As I look back, my life’s story changed in a moment - as I see it, it’s all by meeting one person, Cassie, in my youth. As Cassie sees it, it’s all by my own courage and character. Mako’s sponsorship wasn't just financial assistance; it was a lifeline that helped me build a better future for myself. I wanted to share this story with the world because it's a reminder of the incredible impact that organizations like Mako Children’s Fund can have on individuals and communities. It's a testament to the power of compassion, empathy, and the belief in the potential of every human being.

Breaking Poverty Cycles Amidst Chaos

In 2022, I had a proper education and true comprehension with strong exam grades. It was time to change the trajectory of my future once again. I moved to Accra, the capital of Ghana, where economic opportunity was higher for people with an education. I could now break poverty cycles and properly help my family. Today I earn a living at Toyota Tsusho Manufacturing Ghana. I live in a ghetto of Accra, but I am earning income. I am most proud of my ability to believe in myself and take risks to explore new opportunities. Moving to Accra required complete belief in myself to persevere. Life in a country of Ghana and a city like Accra, is a whirlwind of sensations and challenges. When I first entered the city, it was overwhelming. Picture yourself being dropped into a crowd of strangers, concrete buildings everywhere and dysfunctional chaos swirling about without any familiar face in sight. That was Accra for me. Gradually, I learned to adapt. I observed the patterns of the city of Accra, the ebb and flow of its energy, and I began to find my place within it. I made friends with the stray people that prowled the alleyways, finding solace in their independence and resilience. They taught me the importance of staying nimble and alert, always ready to pounce on opportunities that came my way. Adapting among these people means being flexible and accepting change. I scavenged through scraps of life in the city for survival, piecing together bits of information like a puzzle to solve problems. I still navigate through the labyrinth of streets, slums and ghettos in the city. Every encounter with a fellow denizen of the city is a chance to learn something new, whether it's a nugget of wisdom or a clever hack to navigate the urban landscape. Survival in the city isn't just about staying alive. It is about fostering connections and building relationships. The alliances I have formed with friends continue to remind me: Collaboration is often the key to survival.

I learned that life on your own comes with unexpected challenges and opportunities. Embracing the change as an opportunity for growth and learning is required. I find that self-reflection and introspection helps me understand my strengths, weaknesses, and values. This helps me make better decisions and live a more fulfilling life. I am grateful to have these tools within me; instilled early on from my mom. 

Today, I am growing into a young man and the city is a canvas where I leave my mark. And through it all, I never forgot where I came from. Accra shaped me, molded me with the people I have in my life. My roots gave me lessons of ethics and character that I stay grounded in. No matter how far I've come, I carry with me the lessons of my mother’s struggle, my chance at education, and my early days of survival in this urban jungle. I understand now that survival is not just about meeting your basic needs but also about thriving and living a fulfilling life on your own terms. I take each day as it comes by staying resilient, and staying true to myself.

Dreams Ahead

I envision a future where I achieve success both in my career and personal life. I anticipate challenges such as balancing work and personal commitments, overcoming self-doubt, and staying motivated. To navigate these obstacles, I plan to prioritize effectively, seek support when needed, and maintain a positive mindset. My hopes for the future encompass personal growth, meaningful relationships, and making a positive impact. While I can control my actions, choices, and efforts toward these goals, I understand that external circumstances and others’ actions are beyond my control. Therefore, I focus on adapting and responding effectively to whatever comes my way. My aspirations include furthering my education, advancing my career, and cultivating a fulfilling personal life. I am driven to continuously learn, grow, and contribute positively to my country, community, and beyond. 

I am proud of my story and hope to empower children like me by giving mentorship and guidance. My path was paved by the support of others and my own determination. I hope that we find our way and break the poverty cycles; uplifting ourselves will surely uplift my family.

How to Support Mako Children

Every dollar counts in providing continuous care for our kids. Become a member of our EveryChild and Scholar Collectives, make a one-time donation or get involved as a volunteer or board member today.


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