From A Cobbler To A University Graduate, The Touching Story Of Bampoh Ishmael
Bampoh Ishamael has shared his journey from being a cobbler at the streets of Suhum in the Eastern to being an Economist graduate.
My name is Bampoh Ishmael. I am an Economist (graduated in 2018). I was born and bred in a town called Suhum in the Eastern region of Ghana in West Africa.
Growing up, my two other siblings and I were raised by a single mother. Things were hard for us because our mum was a petty Trader. She would lose all her capital quite often because it was the same money she was using for feeding us and paying bills.
Things were difficult for us as children so I was doing piece work such as weeding for people, carrying blocks etc, when I was as young as ten years of age. I continued this weeding, cleaning and hawking until I completed Junior High School (JHS) at age 15 as the second best student. After completing the JHS, I started selling recharge cards for someone. He promised to save the money (my salary) for me to go to Senior High school.
When the year ended, he told me he couldn’t save for me. So I stopped that work and started working as a casual worker for masons. Once again, the man told me he is honest so I should trust him with my money to save for me since I was a small boy at the time. Unfortunately, he disappointed me too by not saving any money for me.
So I stopped that work and started mending shoes for people, and thus, working as a Shoemaker (Cobbler). I was trying my best do some work and save because I wanted to go school. I thought that education will empower me with knowledge and skills to be gainfully employed to overcome the challenges of abject poverty I was facing. I was motivated by the end result which is to break the yoke of poverty on me.
So after working as a shoemaker for a year, I was able to save some money to pay my admission fees into Senior High School. I worked on weekends and after school to get some pocket money for the next day. I worked on vacations and saved to pay my fees. After four years, I completed my Senior High School with good grades and as the Best Student! My teachers, friends and family contributed to add up to my little savings for the university. At the university, I was mending shoes for friends and lecturers and I was able to get money for my upkeep.
During vacations, I continued my work as a Shoemaker, I was saving every coin I got and consumed a little because I needed to pay my fees for the next academic year. Sometimes, I couldn’t make the full fees, so I had to beg friends, relatives and even lecturers to get some money to supplement what I got in order to pay the fees. I must also add that whenever school resumed, I was often unable to report for the first and second weeks because I had to work extra days before I was able to make extra money that could be used to buy a bag of rice and cooking oil which is the only food I consumed for the whole semester.
Because I had scanty food and little or no money, buying books and paying utility bills was a big challenge for me. In fact, sometimes, my food would run out and I had nothing to eat. I had to drink only water to study. Each time school vacated and I went home, people would ask me if everything was fine or I if was critically ill because of my physique. Things were actually hard for me at home and at school, but nothing made me to change my mind to quit schooling to do something else because I was so determined!
My friends who were into illegal mining coerced me to quit school and join them because they claimed they were making hundreds of money in a day. I did not join them because that was not my aim. My aim was to go to school and learn. I am a brilliant person who is also very hard working. I often learnt from evening to dawn of the following day, despite the financial challenges and hunger I was facing at school.
God has been so good to me.
Finally, the four years came and I graduated with First Class Honours Degree in Economics. I am currently doing National Service and hoping to get a job afterwards or to get a scholarship to study abroad. I am aiming at bettering myself and to help society to solve our problems.
My advice to anyone almost giving up on getting an education is that there is nothing impossible, with hard work and determination, one can achieve his/her dreams!