Dedicated to Billa

Anyone who’s heard me talk about my time in Ghana will also have heard me speak of a man named Billa. Billa was the founder of the “underprivileged children’s centre” (UCC) which is the school that I volunteered at during my trip to Teshie. I found out last week that he sadly passed away.

I only met Billa a few times as he was always super busy running the school and he probably wouldn’t even remember me if I walked past him in the street. But he made such a huge impact on my life without ever knowing it. He was the most humble man ever and he had such an incredible story which made me cry when he told it.

He told me that he struggled with poverty growing up but had always held on to his dream of helping others. When he got a bit older he started teaching and helping a few children underneath a mango tree outside of his home. He said that when people found out what he was doing, they scolded him and told him he was stupid. He was beaten up and told he would never make anything of himself. Apparently it was a ridiculous idea for someone to be helping others when they didn’t have a qualification to teach. But he continued anyway, actively scouting for children who were out of education, and eventually there were too many to fit underneath the mango tree! This led him to open the UCC.

I visited other schools in Ghana but the UCC was so different. In the other schools the children were running about crazy because their teachers were asleep at the desk (yes, I really saw this!) or couldn’t be bothered teaching. One of the volunteers told me that sometimes the teachers didn’t even turn up. But Billa was always consistent and so dedicated to empowering the children. The whole place was always full of fun and laughter and you could tell how much he loved what he did. He blessed hundreds of children with an education they otherwise wouldn’t have had access to, and also sent over 70 children (probably more since I left) from Ghana to universities in the USA and Europe.

The fact that Billa followed his dreams even when he was ridiculed and beaten will continue to encourage me for the rest of my life. The way he lived taught me to keep believing in myself and keep following my passions- you never know who you are inspiring. He was such a brave and kind man, and I am so grateful I had the honour of meeting him.

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