January 17, 2005: Headlines: COS - Ghana: The Observer, La Grande, Ore: RPCV Izaak Edvalson helps Young Ghana Man's Dreams Come True

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Ghana: Peace Corps Ghana : The Peace Corps in Ghana: January 17, 2005: Headlines: COS - Ghana: The Observer, La Grande, Ore: RPCV Izaak Edvalson helps Young Ghana Man's Dreams Come True

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RPCV Izaak Edvalson helps Young Ghana Man's Dreams Come True

RPCV Izaak Edvalson helps Young Ghana Man's Dreams Come True

RPCV Izaak Edvalson helps Young Ghana Man's Dreams Come True

Eastern Grad Helps Young Ghana Man's Dreams Come True

By Dick Mason

January 17, 2005

Caption: NOTEWORTHY ASSIST: Doctor Abio Ayeliya, left, of Ghana, is able to attend Eastern Oregon University because of help he is receiving from Izaak Edvalson, right.
The Observer/DICK MASON

His name intrigues people, his story inspires them.

Introducing Doctor Abio Ayeliya, 23, an Eastern Oregon University freshman from Ghana.

His is a story of perseverance and the selfless concern of a former teacher - Izaak Edvalson, a 1998 graduate of EOU.

Ayeliya attends Eastern because Edvalson, a former teacher in the Peace Corps, has given him the chance of a lifetime. Edvalson donated $15,000 of his own money and has raised another $10,000 to cover Ayeliya's first two years of expenses at Eastern.

It is a remarkable story, one that started when Edvalson met Ayeliya while working in the Peace Corps in Ghana from 1999 to 2001. There, in the northern village of Chiana, Edvalson received the type of attention he was not used to.

As a teacher Edvalson was bothered by students who were constantly asking him for things. They did so because they think Americans have everything, Edvalson said.

Ayeliya was among those who came around. However, he was different. He only wanted help with school. Ayeliya also made a positive impression by volunteering to do things like carry water to Edvalson's home and help with gardening.

The student and his teacher became fast friends.

"We're like brothers,'' Edvalson said.

Ayeliya's English name is Doctor. He is so named because he was born in a hospital in Ghana. Most people there are born in villages.

"A lot of people are confused by his name,'' Edvalson said.

Ayeliya is earning a degree in business, not medicine. Having a degree will greatly boost his chances of landing a good job in Ghana he said. Ayeliya also wants to use the added income he hopes the degree will bring to help support his family. He has 13 brothers and sisters.

If not for Edvalson, Ayeliya said that he now would be herding cattle on his family's farm.

"I'd be a cowboy,'' he said.

Instead Ayeliya is busy not only earning a degree but also learning the nuances of a new culture. He laughs now when he reflects upon what he has already learned. In the first class he attended last fall Ayeliya stood up when the professor entered the room and said "Good morning, sir,'' something that his classmates in Ghana always did.

Ayeliya was surprised to see that his American classmates remained seated and did not say anything. A smiling, but slightly embarrassed Ayeliya sat down.

"Everything is different here,'' he said.

Including the weather. Ayeliya had never seen snow. Ghana rarely experiences temperatures under 70 degrees.

"When it's 70 degrees we build fires to warm up,'' Ayeliya said.

He has not embraced Northeast Oregon's chilly weather but he has enjoyed its snow. Ayeliya will never forget the first snowfall he encountered.

"I lay down in the snow and made snow angels,'' he said.

Ayeliya came to Eastern better prepared for its academic challenges because of help he had received from Edvalson in Ghana. Edvalson did not believe Ayeliya received a good education in his village so he sent him to a boarding school in Northern Ghana that offered superior instruction.

Edvalson provided $600 to cover all of Ayeliya's boarding school expenses. He cannot think of a person more deserving of the help he has received.

"He's a hard worker and doesn't expect anything from anyone,'' Edvalson said. "He's very dedicated to education.''

Edvalson, a 1994 graduate of La Grande High School, is a builder of natural alternative and solar-powered homes. He is staying in La Grande this school year to help Ayeliya adjust to college.

Edvalson views the sacrifices he is making to help Ayeliya as small. He believes that people often place too much emphasis on money and material things. Instead he said it is often better to use money to help those "who really need and deserve it.''

Individuals interested in helping Edvalson assist Ayeliya can do so by visiting his Web site at: wolongope.com , by calling him at 663-1962 or e-mailing him at edvalsi@eou.edu.

When this story was posted in January 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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Story Source: The Observer, La Grande, Ore

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Ghana



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