From Street Child to Mentor: Cyril Brings Hope to Others

Cyril fled his abusive home, seeking refuge on the streets where he learned to survive through sheer resilience. A chance encounter with TK and volunteers from Future of Africa rekindled his hope, setting him on a path towards achieving his dreams. 

Cyrils journey with Future of Africa began in November 2016 at Opebia when he first joined our weekly Street Outreach activities.

Among the crowd of young boys interacting with volunteers, Cyril stood out. He was always eager to talk to volunteers about his hopes and dreams which included becoming a philanthropist. He had no idea how he would escape poverty and the streets, but he held onto the hope that once his life improved, he would find a way to support vulnerable children in any way he could. 

Today, Cyril volunteers with FOA as he waits to begin his university studies. His journey is one of resilience, filled with hope for a brighter future.

Cyril Nii Nortey was born in Osu but lived with his father in Labadi during his formative years. When he was three years old, his mother left his father and vanished from his life, never reaching out or making any effort to stay in touch. Growing up, Cyril was energetic and impulsive, always cracking jokes and playing pranks. He fully embraced his childhood, but his father, along with some relatives and neighbors, labeled him as noisy and stubborn.

His father was harsh, beating Cyril for any misstep. Worse still were the times when his father's anger turned Cyril into an outlet for his frustrations. At just eight years old, Cyril began wandering to other towns; he would walk about 10 miles away from home to escape his father's wrath. Unfortunately, this only made things worse, as he faced even harsher beatings for returning home late at night.

After five years of enduring his father’s mistreatment Cyril made the life-altering decision to leave home for good. He was not certain where to go and where his father would not find him. But he had had enough of being abused and wanted to no longer live in fear. His first stop was Opebia, where he found solace with other young boys who lived on the streets. Among these boys was Patrick, who took the initiative to care for Cyril and help him adjust to street life. They roamed the streets of Accra together, begging for money so they could get food to share. 

  • My first day on the street I got into a fight and I was beaten badly. There was no one to console me and this made me feel even worse
    Cyril Nortey

Cyril spent six months on the street before meeting TK, Nikki and volunteers from Ashesi University. At that time FOA was a small yet dedicated group of individuals driven by compassion and determined to understand why many children were living on the street. We went out into the streets every Saturday to hang out with street children, share meals with them and build relationships so they knew they had big brothers and sisters who cared. 

‘I heard from other street children that there was a group of people who were sharing food on Saturday evening and they also played games, so I was interested in joining.’ Every week, Cyril eagerly joined street outreach, immersing himself in games and forming connections with volunteers. Cyril stood out for his eloquence and his keen interest in engaging with others. His genuine love for reading was evident as he frequently asked volunteers for books to read throughout the week. Sitting on the street pavement, he would immerse himself in a book, undisturbed by the noise of passing cars and pedestrians.

TK approached Cyril with an offer to attend school and at first Cyril was excited about going back to school and getting the opportunity to escape the streets. However, Cyril hesitated to accept the offer when TK mentioned involving his parents. He was not ready to meet his father and so he distanced himself from FOA for sometime. 

A few weeks later, TK and Nikki visited Okponglo, another area where street children lived, and reunited with Cyril. They urged him to join outreach and hang out with the volunteers. Later that day, Cyril approached Nikki and asked if she could bring him a storybook promising to bring it back to her when they met again. The following Saturday, Nikki discovered Cyril using the book to teach Patrick how to read—a testament to Cyril's untapped potential.

TK then suggested again facilitating a family reunification through FOA to provide Cyril with the support needed to attend school. Cyril reluctantly agreed, but on the day TK took him to meet his father, Cyril hesitated to speak with him, still carrying wounds from past abuse. Uncertain of his father's reaction, Cyril was surprised when his father welcomed him warmly and reassured him of his unconditional support. His father then consented to TK's plan for Cyril to attend school and within a month, Cyril and Patrick embarked on their journey to the Volta Region to begin their education. There, they lived with TK’s grandparents and attended a school in the town. 

It took Cyril several months to adjust to his new environment, especially mastering the local language. Once he became proficient, he quickly engaged with others and even began writing stories. However, breaking down his defensive barriers was a challenge. During his time on the streets, he had learned to protect himself from older bullies, by resorting to physical confrontations to assert his strength and avoid appearing vulnerable. Even in a safer environment, these habits persisted. One day, during a disagreement with another student, Cyril's temper flared, and he injured his peer. This incident sparked concern among TK and his grandparents and they worried. Feeling misunderstood, Cyril attempted to run away but didn't get far. He did not know how to leave the town and so he  hid in the bushes before he was found and brought back home. After a lengthy discussion with TK and his grandparents Cyril realized it was time to change and he committed himself to managing his anger and focusing on his education.

  • The first time I spoke to Cyril I could immediately tell that he was a very smart and intelligent boy
    Michelle Kyei

Since leaving the streets seven years ago, Cyril's life has transformed. He completed primary and secondary school and is looking forward to enrolling in one of Ghana’s premier universities to achieve his big dreams. Currently, he interns with FOA and mentors other young boys and girls who have just been taken off the street. Similar to the days when he helped Patrick learn English while living on the street, Cyril frequently leads sessions on literacy assisting his peers to learn how to read and write. In university, he plans to study sociology to better understand community dynamics and to help him develop skills on how to support families to thrive.

He is eager to become a social worker and do his part in reducing the prevalence of street children. He also one day hopes to pursue a career in law so he can give back to the community and support people who have faced injustice. He hopes for a future where society views street children not as thieves or monsters but as individuals deserving care and support. Cyril's journey from the streets is a testament to resilience, hope, and the power of second chances.

July 3rd 2024

Become The Change You Want To See

The future of Africa starts with young people harnessing the fundamentals of social responsibility to drive positive change within themselves.

Donate Volunteer With Us