Not many of her kind are that fortunate to have access to basic education, let alone enrol themselves into Senior High School (SHS) to even come out with flying colours despite their woes.
Similarly, nowhere in the history of Ghana has it been told about a head porter, popularly called Kayayo, who has demonstrated outmost discipline, commitment and dint of hard work backed by an admirable academic prowess as an achievement.
But standing tall among her peers, Abudu Salah,22, a Kayayo who resides within a slum in Accra has defied every odd, broke through the cycle of poverty, torture and all forms of abuses to get herself enrolled into a Senior High School.
Ms. Abudi did not only manage to secure an admission into SHS for the sake of it but went ahead to prove herself as the second overall best student in the 2018 West African Senior Schools Certificate Examinations (WASSCE).
She did the unthinkable, came out with flying colours, scoring six A’s and two B’s, a result many including examining body West African Examination Council (WAEC) refer to as an excellent performance by all standards).
Brilliant Salah hails from Mamprugo, a town located in Ghana’s Northern Region, where poverty is rife. , a situation which compelled the youth to migrate out of town many miles away down south in search for greener pastures.
Among the 2018 batch of students who completed Ken Hammer Senior High Technical School (KENHASS) in Goaso, a community located in the Brong Ahafo Region, Abudu Salah by her remarkable performance in the 2018 WASSCE was adjudged the second overall best student of the entire school.
Abudu also happens to be a peer educator on Ending Child Marriage implemented by the Purim African Youth Development Platform (PAYDP) and supported by UNFPA.
Narrating in an interview how her journey to SHS began, talented Salah disclosed she got herself registered into the Senior High School (SHS) to further her education through personal savings which she acquired working as Kayayo with just a little support from her mother, a petty trader in the north.
“I lost my dad while in SHS at the time government has not introduced the Free Senior High School education [and] when my mom was the only one taking care of my junior sister and I.
“Payment of school fees was a problem at that time so I had to travel from the north all the way down to Accra to work and get a little money, send it back to my mom for her to top it up then I took it to school. I was doing that till I completed SHS.”
The plural of Kayayo, Kayayei, refers to head porters consisting of young women and girls who earn money by carrying loads on their heads in urban lorry parks and markets.
Usually migrants, who hail from the three northern regions of Ghana, their work is insecure and poorly paid. Kayayei tend to be have limited social safety nets, inadequate housing and are disproportionately affected by violence and abuse including rape, theft and forced marriages.
Many of these young girls between the ages of 6 and 28 will be found carrying loads on their heads at marketplaces within cities in Ghana.
Recounting one of her worst ordeals working as a Kayayo at Tudu in Accra where she resides, Salah said: “I remember two years ago when there was a continuous heavy downpour which lasted for several hours. Where to sleep was a problem. We run here water, we run there water, everywhere was flooded.
“We couldn’t even know where to sit before day break, all of a sudden we all broke down into tears. The question I asked myself was, ‘will I also be alive to see the break of day or die? Had it not been a good Samaritan who took us in his car home, we will all have perished on that tragic night.”
She aspires to further her education to the nursing training college where her dream of becoming a professional nurse in the future can be fulfilled despite financial constraint.
She has therefore appealed to philanthropists, individuals, corporate organizations, NGOs and government to come to her aid and support her to get enrolled into a nursing training college to be trained as nurse.
By Joseph Kobla Wemakor|Accra, Ghana