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From Ghana’s streets to medical school

SOS Children's Village Asiakwa, where Charles grew up
SOS Children's Village Asiakwa, where Charles grew up

Charles was a baby when his mother abandoned him and his two brothers. When their father died a few years later, the boys had to fend for themselves until SOS Children stepped in. As Charles, now 26, prepares to graduate from medical school, he takes a look back.

After their father died, the boys spent a year living hand to mouth in the city of Tema. Charles, then aged 8, and his older brother barely made enough money for food and often could not afford their school fees.

A new start in life

The turning point came when they were found by an SOS social worker and taken to the SOS Children’s Village Asiakwa, 60 miles from Ghana’s capital, Accra. Elizabeth, his SOS mother, said: “They looked completely lost. I just made them aware that they were safe and put a smile on their faces.”

Charles gradually adapted to his new surroundings. “My childhood started when I came to the SOS Children’s Village and met my SOS mother,” said Charles. “She always pushed me into studying. Before then, I was always last in class. After the first term here, I was the first!”

A love of learning

After four years at Asiakwa, Charles moved to the SOS Children International College in Tema. There he discovered a love for biology and ‘the complexity of living things’. After immersing himself in his studies, in 2005 he earned a place at medical school in Accra.

The five-year course was challenging, but Charles was persistent, even when he had to retake his second year studies. There were also exciting times, including a school exchange to Germany. After sitting his final exam in late 2012, he will undertake a two-year internship before receiving his licence to practise as a doctor.

Future dreams

And how about his dreams beyond being a doctor? Charles looks forward to having a family that he can take care of. He keeps in touch with Elizabeth, his SOS mother, attributing much of his success to her love, support and encouragement to pursue his education. He concludes: “I don’t know where I would have ended up without SOS Children. The greatest gift I got was my SOS mother. I am so grateful.”

Find out more about SOS Children’s Villages in Ghana.