When Mercy was registered with the Compassion program in third grade, things were extremely difficult for her family of four. Her mother was selling roasted plantains and maize by the side of the road as their only source of income because her father had been in an accident and was unable to work.
But life improved greatly when she joined the program. “Compassion paid my fees and provided books and school supplies,” says Mercy, with tears in her eyes. “They gave us groceries and special packages throughout the year and at Christmas and Easter periods. In addition to all this, they helped us get a nice flat and paid the rent for us for two years!”
The assistance significantly lifted the burden from Mercy’s mother, Comfort, who decided to start selling koko, a local breakfast porridge. Comfort wanted to be financially self-sufficient — and her hard work paid off. The koko business did very well.
“Compassion really helped us,” says Comfort. “I was able to sell my koko and use the money to pay our rent for the next two years. I don’t know what we would have done without Compassion.”
Yet more dark days lay in wait. Just before Mercy entered high school, her father passed away.
It was a shattering blow for her and a particularly difficult time for the family. Mercy was lost, wondering how she would continue her schooling when her family was broken and her mother needed help at home. Yet, with support from her local church and the guidance of the center’s tutors, she pressed on to graduate from high school — and then set her sights even higher.
“After completing high school, I wanted to study medicine,” she says. “Unfortunately, I did not meet the required grades in elective mathematics, so I wasn’t able to get admission to do medicine.”
The center staff encouraged her to retake the exams. “The help we receive from Compassion is not only financial,” Mercy explains. “One thing that really benefited me was the encouragement and emotional support that the center staff constantly gave.”
But after she redid the exams, her results were withheld by the examination board without explanation.
“Those were extremely difficult times for me. They made me get closer to God; I would pray and go to church a lot,” Mercy says. “I wasn’t sure what was happening. First, I failed, then the results for my re-sits were withheld. I was devastated.”
Mercy lost all hope of continuing her education. Months went by, and the examination board still delayed releasing the results for Mercy’s school. The staff at her center remained a constant support as Mercy endured the long wait.
After months of prayer, the results were finally released. But, due to the delay, she wasn’t admitted to study medicine. Instead, she was offered a place to study computer science at the University of Ghana Legon.
“When I was offered admission to study computer science, I wasn’t happy because I didn’t know anything about the program, and it had never been an interest,” she says. “But I decided to take the opportunity and make the best of it.”
Compassion assisted with tuition and supplies, and Mercy finally started university.
“Classes had already begun when I enrolled, so I was behind,” she recounts. “It was so tough trying to catch up. I had no idea what was going on. I reached out to some students — some agreed to tutor me. They are still my friends to this day.”
With the help of her friends, Mercy caught up with the class. As time went on, Mercy realized that she loved the course, and she graduated with a second-class upper degree in computer science.