In honour of Fathers’ Day, I’ve decided to profile the two awesome dads I’ve gotten to know well in Ghana: Alhassan and Yaku.
Alhassan is effectively a single father, which I think is quite unusual in Ghana. He lives in Tamale with his 7 year-old daughter while his wife lives in Accra and works as a lecturer at a university there. Unfortunately, they’re currently in the middle of a divorce. Alhassan has custody over their daughter. He is definitely a workaholic, even by Canadian standards, and often stays at the office until 8 or 9 at night, even though as a National Service Volunteer (NSV), he only gets a small stipend. Thankfully, his father helps him with taking care of his daughter. Together, they are managing.
Alhassan just finished a degree in statistics and he’s looking for a serious career to begin when his NSV year is up. He taught for ten years as a high school teacher and he told me that he might go back to teaching if he can’t find work in his field. If that doesn’t work out, he’s going back to school for a Master’s degree in computer science. No matter what Alhassan’s future holds, his daughter is the central focus of it for him. He told me that education is very important and that he wants to be able to give her all of the opportunity he can by supporting her education. His career plans exist solely to make sure that her future is bright.
Yaku is a new father. When I first arrived, his son Ahmjed was only 33 days old. The newness of his situation is apparent; Ayisha will often hand off a crying Ahmjed to Yaku, who will hold the baby at arm’s length with a clueless look on his face. She has passed the baby off to me once or twice and I feel the exact same way, so I understand Yaku’s struggles. Still I think he will make an excellent father; he’s learning how to deal with all the crying and pooping pretty quickly. Just two nights ago, he was able to rapidly stem Ahmjed’s fussing by properly burping him without Ayisha’s help!
Yaku’s brother recently passed away, so both of his daughters are living with Yaku. Often Yaku’s nephew will stay with us as well. Yaku is very progressive in his child-rearing beliefs: he refuses to cane the children–something that is very common in the village–and spends a lot of quality time with his son–something that doesn’t seem too common in the village. Like Alhassan, he sees the value in education, especially his own. He’s taking classes to prepare for the WASSCEs so that he can move on from being a Youth Employee to a certified Maths teacher. He told me that he doesn’t want to have any more children until he can make sure that he can provide them with a good education so that they can create better lives for themselves than the one he’s living.
These dads are turbo impressive, because they are excelling at fatherhood in a setting where there are so many struggles besides properly raising a child. They are definitely inspiring examples of what it means to be a father and to put your children first and I hope I can someday embody some of the things they represent as a father myself.
I got permission from both of these awesome dads to write this post. Unfortunately, neither of them wanted their pictures to be posted online, though! Also, I know this post is a day late, but I figured you’d all be too busy hanging out with your dads/father figures yesterday to read my blog.