Ubuntu is a word that you have probably heard us use before. It refers to the role that we each play in lifting humanity up as one. When you hear this concept, who do you think of? Maybe a famous advocate such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu or Nelson Mandela. Maybe it’s your mom or dad, or even a sports hero. For us, we think of Michael Acheampong, class 4 teacher at the Akatim Village School.
Growing up, Michael had very little and nothing came easy to him, which made climbing the educational ladder very difficult. “Unfortunately for me when I was in basic 6, my father, a certain sickness came up and he was forced to [quit]” says Michael. From then on, his family started experiencing financial hardship. His aunts and uncles tried to help ease the burden, but they had their own families to take care of. When his older brother had to stop schooling in order to work, Michael refused to accept the same fate for himself. “When I saw a friend going to a farm with somebody, I would just go and escort them. Sometimes they would give me something [money]. Sometimes I would get food. When I went to school I just associated myself with those who have, so when they buy [lunch], I might get something to eat.”
Despite his family’s hardships, Michael went on to complete his Senior High school with the dream of attending the College of Education. When he went to ask his family for help, no one was able to provide. That didn’t stop him. He put aside his education visions for the time being, and went to work to save money. But after working for two years at a telecommunications company, he felt that he wasn’t doing what he truly wanted; he wasn’t impacting the lives of others. From then on, Michael told himself that he would become a teacher no matter what. And he did. He would miss classes in order to work so that he could afford to pay his fees, but after hard work and years of determination, he walked away with a certificate to teach. How did he do it with no financial help? He attributes it to the encouragement from his mother and father. “I was raised in a less privileged home. It wasn’t easy getting to this standard, but always when you see that somebody cares, not just giving you money, but somebody who asks ‘how is school going,’ you see, it motivates you a lot… and it keeps you going.”
The next step for Michael was to enter Ghana Education Services’ pool of teachers and wait for an assignment. “When I got into the mainstream and they posted me to Akatim, that was the first time I heard the name… I had to ask where that village was… when I got here at the first time, I told myself I have really gotten to where I want, that I can at least affect their lives positively.” It was a match made in heaven for both Akatim and Michael, so much so that he referred to it as a “dream come true.”
Day in and day out, he has a big smile on his face whenever he’s teaching and he exudes a positive energy that instills belief in his students. “I sort of am inspired by my own self,” he says. “Considering what I have had to go through to get to this point in life. It inspires me to do more because I see great futures that await these kids.” Michael also notes that he draws inspiration from you, our donors. Sometimes it’s beyond his imagination that people from a different country will spend their time and hard-earned money to help people that they barely know.
Just as we may inspire him, he inspires us; and we hope that he inspires you, too. One of his favorite parts about working with The Senase Project is our Sponsor a Student program, so we’ll leave you with one last quote:
“…if somebody is out there and wants to sponsor somebody here, I think that person should do it whole heartedly, without any fear, because even if he or she does not get anything out of it, he or she have affected a life. And that life, too, will affect another person’s life.”
If that doesn’t embody Ubuntu, then I don’t know what does.
CEO & Co-Founder
The Senase Project