#MotivateGhana: The Story Of Sylvia Afful, A University Graduate Who Sells Energy Drink At Kantamanto

Currently there are about 2000 Graduate Nurses and Midwives who are jobless after they successfully passed the Licencing Examination organized by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) in 2013 and ended their National Service (Rotation) in January 2015 but have up till date not been posted.

Research indicates that, Ministry of Health has written to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning for clearance to employ the over 2,000 qualified Nurses and Midwives, but the Ministry says there is no money hence the graduates becoming jobless.

Some unemployed graduates indulge themselves in criminal activities that undermine the stability of the country to earn a living; armed robbery, prostitution, fraud, drugs and many others.

Sylvia Afful

Sylvia Afful

Sylvia Afful is one of the many qualified graduate nurses and midwives, who through financial difficulties have channelled her energy into doing something that most graduates will find it very challenging and repulsive to pursue. Despite the criticism she is facing in her new job, she believes it has been worth it.

Graduate from Korle-Bu Nursing Training College, Sylvia has garnered the confidence to join market women in Kantamanto to make a living by selling energy drinks – a job that is perceived for the uneducated – a job that most graduate will not even think of venturing into.

According to the 25yr old graduate, she always had passion for nursing because she will save lives and also “when we are done with school we are assured of our job.”

But Sylvia has expressed disappointment in government’s failure to post newly qualified Nurses and Midwives to their various hospitals and clinics months after graduation.

Sylvia explained that had it not been the selling of these energy drinks in the market, she wouldn’t have been able to pay for her graduation fee and would have been homeless.

“I have been able to rent a house with the help of my mum from the selling, and some of the money I used to pay for my graduation fee.”

Sylvia Afful at the hospital

Sylvia Afful at the hospital

The young professional comes from a deprived family and has been through a lot of difficulties to achieve her dream of being a nurse but currently finds herself selling in the market.

Narrating her agony, she recalled “I remember my mum said we came from Liberia to Ghana during the first civil war when I was a week old with my other siblings and we settled in a village called Senya Breku in the Central Region. Things were very difficult so we moved to Kantamanto in Accra and mum involved in petty trading to cater for us. We lived on the street till when I was about 9 years and met a man called Mr Ken Amoah, he was a social worker and had an NGO. He introduced that NGO to me and with my two brothers we went to ‘Children in Need Ghana’ in Tabora – Alhaji. They gave us shelter and took us to Future Leaders International School. I stayed in the house for about 10yrs but unfortunately it got collapsed due to mismanagement. So I had to leave the home to stay with my mum at Awoshie to continue my education then she had hired a house. But the landlady was creating a lot of financial problems and my mum was not having enough money so we have no option than to leave. My mum decided to go and continue with the hustle she had always been in Kantamanto”

Fortunately for Sylvia she had a scholarship due to her intelligence from a man she met called the late Allan Crosby Matthews who introduced her and some friends to a scientist from Belgium called Luke Gerard. They were interested in her education so they sponsored her in her books whiles CAL Merchant Bank sponsored in paying her school fees from primary to the university. “My sponsors where keenly interested in my education”

Sylvia Afful selling at the market

Sylvia Afful selling at the market

Throughout her education, Sylvia had always had a problem with accommodation and food. “I was having a problem with accommodation, I was with my uncle after Junior High till I got admission to St Johns Grammar Senior High School. And when we vacated I had to go to the market and sell pure water to gather some money to cater for some basic needs when school reopens. After my nursing training I was posted to 37 military hospital for my National Service so I went to stay with my auntie but I had to run to stay with a very good friend at Russia due to maltreatment.”

Very God fearing and hardworking, Sylvia couldn’t take the suffering of being jobless and homeless after school for some months. She needed a place to stay and also earn a living, so she drafted an application letter to Korle -Bu Teaching Hospital, Holy Trinity Clinic, Sukura Clinic and some other places but to no avail. She then decided to do something for herself if she is not getting a job. Her mum spoke to a man who sells energy drinks at Kantamanto to supply her daughter on credit basis.

Sylvia Afful

Sylvia Afful

She told the Motivate Ghana team that at the beginning she found it very embarrassing as a graduate to sell in the market but there was no other choice. “There were times when I met some of my friends, I pretend I haven’t seen them so I change route for them not to identify me. There was a day I met one junior in Senior high school and she was very surprised to see me. I tried to explain to her that, I am done with nursing training but we haven’t been employed that is why I am doing this for a living. She became very happy for me and recalled how hardworking and intelligent I was in school but told me she can never do something like that”

Sylvia noted that she derives motivation from her mum “my mum has always been my greatest source of motivation, she always advise me to remember where I am coming from. I have also come to believe that selling on the market does don’t make me a rag. My mum is no more sleeping on the street and I have also stopped perching in friends’ homes. We are living happily in our rented home.”

Her sincere advice to graduates is that they shouldn’t always depend on government to survive but should rather create employment for themselves. She hopes to be a unique nurse, counsellor, motivational speaker and establish a home for the less privileged.

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