Life Struggles Can Lead to a Better Life

Edson - Lowell, Massachusetts
Entered on November 13, 2012
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

I believe that my past struggles have set me up for a great future. As a child, I grew up in a small and poorly resourced village in the Central Region of Ghana, West Africa. I had little choice in life other than to take whatever life delivered. Because of the struggles I encountered, my memories project a vivid picture of that chapter of my life.

After reciting my prayers every blessed morning with my family of nine, I cleaned our small house and then walked for miles through unpaved roads to fetch some filthy water that was used for cooking, bathing, and drinking. After carrying the large buckets on our heads, we started a fire outside to heat the leftover meal from the day before.

I spent my time weeding with a machete at a small farm in exchange for some food and in a school that had no resources. Classes were held under a mango tree unless the weather was bad. Only then, did we join the older students in their basement classroom filled with potholes on the partially cemented floor. My school uniform was faded with many patches and oversized. I wore homemade sandals made from old car tires. Because my family could not afford books, I used my father’s old ones full of writing in the margins. My backpack was an old rice sack. Meals consisted of some yucca or maize grains. I used my pencil until it disappeared from use. The kerosene lantern used for studying at night smoked and irritated my eyes.

When my family relocated from the village to a town nearby, I enrolled in a middle school and had to run 40 minutes through thick and dangerous bushes with my heavy backpack to get to school. When it rained the dirt road became a swamp. I arrived at school sweating and out of breath.

I used to hunt for birds to bring home for pets. I became interested in how they fly and dreamed of working in aviation. I was discouraged by most people when I shared my plans with them. I was determined to not listen to the criticisms, but to follow my dreams.

I am now in America, and I hope to prove that all humans are capable of succeeding in life. The one thing that separates those who succeed and those who do not is opportunity. I believe that my struggles have prepared me to do everything to my very best and to create opportunities for others who are also dreaming of their opportunities. I am now majoring in Engineering Science at Middlesex Community College with a goal of becoming an aeronautical engineer. I believe my suffering has compelled me to make my dreams my priorities no matter how difficult my struggles are. Like a soldier training hard in a boot camp for war, I believe that my life struggles have made me determined to focus on my dream of a better life.