Marcus has been accepted by the University of Ghana in a 4-year Bachelors of Arts program and will begin his college career this month!
Funds raised enabled him to study last year and to prepare to retake his examination in Mathematics which he aced and qualified for the University!!
Although he had been accepted into college in the US, the tuition was just too expensive and Marcus could not get a US visa to come and plead his case in person. Thus, he redirected his attention while continuing to work tirelessly for the betterment of the street children in his country.
Thank you to all who offered support, helping to make his dreams come true. (Maybe in a year or so he will be able to visit under a student visa and thank you in person!)
Some people walk for causes, run marathons, sell Girl Scout cookies, or seek donations for "Polar Plunges;" as you know, that's not me. I am writing to ask for your help and support, right now, on behalf of my young friend, Marcus Love Anafu Naazii. Yes, that's his real name; his mother included "Love" on his birth certificate, perhaps prescient that he would develop into an amazing, caring young man.
Please read Marcus' compelling story below; it is his college essay entitled "The Kerosene Boy." He is thrilled that he was accepted by my alma mater, Manhattanville College, as he only dreamed of attending college here, never presuming that a former street beggar would make the cut.
Unfortunately, the tuition at Manhattanville is now about $51,000 per year inclusive of room and board. He has been awarded the College's Provost's Scholarship of $19,000 per academic year, but that leaves him with a $32,000 shortfall for the 2018-2019 school year. As a foreign student, he must place a nonrefundable $1,300 deposit within the next month or two to reserve his place, so we need to know ASAP if his dream has any chance of becoming a reality.
Thus, I am reaching out everyone I know, and asking if it is at all possible, those interested dig deep into their pockets for, even at $1,000, it would take 30+ generous donors to come forward!! We may think we cannot individually do much to save the world, but I am hoping that together we can support someone who has already demonstrated that he can make a difference, and who has committed his life to doing so in the future. Your assistance, at whatever level is comfortable for you, would be very appreciated at this time.
If anyone knows of any foundations or other sources for grant money to support his education, please email me at [email redacted]. I will, of course, keep all donors confidentially apprised of Marcus' situation.
Please pass the word to anyone you may know capable of assisting too! Many, many thanks for whatever you can do.
"The Kerosene Boy"
They laughed at me and called me, “The Kerosene Boy.”
I am Marcus Love Anafu Naazii, an 18-year-old born in a very remote town, Omanjor, which is located in the country of Ghana.
As one of seven children, second oldest after my sister, heavy responsibility fell on me at an early age. My father is a disabled mason and my mother, a porridge seller.
As a refugee from the French-speaking country of Togo, my mother had escaped the torture of the regime of the late President, Gnassingbe Eyadema, who - in his 38 years in power - brutally killed civilians trying to create a democracy. Unfortunately, my mother could not communicate, and remained jobless until she could only find work by going from home to home, seeking laundry to wash. I remember massaging her sore palms each night. Once we taught her to speak the local dialect known as twi, she managed to save a pittance from the laundry in order to open a porridge business.
My father was a hard-working man, who would have gone to the ends of the earth to support us, but he lost his work as a mason for political reasons. I recall going with him, as he sought to contract to mold blocks for people, and being thrilled when it worked out, as then we could have rice for lunch and some funds available for school fees. When he lost his job with the National Disaster Management Organization, there was little to keep us from going to people’s homes to beg for work.
It was not easy being a small child in this family. We knew nothing of a meal called supper; for us, it was only breakfast, and then some leftovers to eat at lunchtime. I could not attend school regularly as I had to support my father in raising money for the upkeep of the whole family. We slept on three mats, joined together. At least, we were not living on the streets, and my father’s tutoring of English and Math led me to obtain a four-year scholarship from “primary 6” until the end of junior high school. I understood the suffering of my parents and studied hard, as I soon realized that only through education could I make a major difference in their lives and those of my siblings.
When my dad lost his job, our hopes for a stable life were shattered. We went back to living in utter misery, this time worse than before, worse than we could ever imagine. My father contracted diabetes and high blood pressure, likely due to the stress, and almost lost his life as he became so weak. Even once he was able to find work, he could not do much, and then I had to step up once again.
I begged on the streets. I carried heavy luggage to earn a few tips. I helped school children cross the highway and did whatever other menial work was available. I had to raise money for my siblings, my sick dad and my jobless mother.
It was then I started my first real business. As my village faced frequent power cuts and black outs, I put aside a small amount from my earnings in order to buy my first gallon of kerosene. During outages, I would rush home from school, change my clothes and head out to the streets, banging on plates to let people know I was nearby, with kerosene available for sale. I would measure it out with a funnel into a small bottle. Hence the nickname, “Kerosene Boy.” At that time, it was our only chance for survival, and I was not going to give up on a chance. I was committed to succeed as a kerosene seller, and for awhile, I was able to provide medications for my father, food for the family and cover some other expenses.
Then, for one entire month, there was no need for my kerosene, and business stalled. As I had to develop another alternative, I learned how to dance from my mates on the streets, and then came home and taught the routines to my older sister. Together, we would then perform, with a bowl in front of us, in which donations were placed. We gained little but it was better than nothing.
Somehow, I managed to graduate from junior high school with excellent grades. My father had begun to receive a pension at age 56 when he could no longer work as a mason at all; he used it to help assist with my high school tuition, while my mother’s porridge business money supported my younger siblings. I promised not to let my father down, and served in a Christian body called “Scripture Union.” I had found my faith in the Scriptures, and found passages that felt as if God were speaking directly to me. At the Scripture Union, many different denominations came together to form a unified body of worship. By vote of the congregation, I was elected the Assistant Bible Secretary, and was responsible for evangelism and for explaining and interpreting Scripture to the whole church. I was young for the role, and then received significant fame from my teachings. I always focused on giving hope to the lost and showing how God can work in mysterious ways. Soon, I had a strong reputation and many followers.
It was then time to elect a Senior School Prefect to lead the whole student body; I prayed and felt an intuition to run for the position. I gave what I was later told was an “awesome” speech as it was necessary for candidates to state how they hoped to execute change and foster excellence. With the support of the teachers and the Scripture Union, I was voted into power. It was an amazing blessing and opportunity! It also enabled me to receive a reduced tuition with free room and board. For those who do not know the meaning of a prefect, it refers to someone who is like the Captain of the school, someone who acts as a liaison between the students and the administration. One must be able to encourage and motivate students, be cooperative, helpful, well-mannered, trustworthy, responsible and respectful to all. I tried to display leadership qualities, as well as confidence, initiative and problem solving skills.
Through God’s guiding Hand, I emerged after one year, and was known as the youngest and most outstanding prefect ever at the Navrongo Senior High School. I was awarded a certificate by the Headmistress and had my name inscribed on the school’s administration block. Thus, I completed high school with two certificates: one from the Scripture Union and another from the school, and managed good grades, despite the time involved in handling these positions.
While I knew there was no financial support for me to attend University, I had learned about the SAT test on Google, and found an institution willing to enable me to take the test on credit, as they saw that my intentions are positive, genuine and geared at giving back to my community, country and continent. I had no test preparation book as I could not afford one, but would use a teacher’s book to study. When I took the test, I scored a 990 which may sound less than average by American standards, but mine was the second highest score of all those who took it with me.
I returned home to help my family and the people in my village. While at high school, I often thought of those young people who were not fortunate enough to have received any education at home, and who could not afford to go to school. There are many “street children” in Ghana. I engaged in various acts of charity, such as joining a team of nurses working in health screening, and engaged in communal labor projects and other humanitarian efforts. I was teaching, and felt a strong desire to help the less privileged street children, since I had been there. I know every bit about how it feels. Even though I had no money, I began distributing some of my own clothes, sandals and other material goods I could spare to the orphaned children on the streets, giving them hope and introducing them to Jesus.
This activity quickly led to my formation of a nonprofit organization called the Love Foundation Club (hereafter “LFC,”) as four of my friends came on board. These friends were mates from school who already knew me to be a strong leader. They decided to support my dream and vision of embarking on charity for the less privileged street children in very rural areas. We started to gather belongings from the more fortunate, and then targeted the streets to reach out to the less privileged. Pictures of our efforts were posted on Facebook, and we received some financial support initially from a woman in Germany. With her help, we wisely secured a registration document from the Registrar General, giving our organization credibility and the legal right to operate in the four corners of Ghana. We have received media attention in Ghana; I have been on three radio programs (Abro fm, Radio Univers and 1family Radio) and was featured once on television (GH-one TV) for the success of the Foundation, and for the inspiration and positive influence I have provided for other young people.
Again, I know that to continue to do good work, I must now continue my education. There is overwhelming illiteracy and poverty in my country and throughout Africa. Many youths are not motivated towards education, as they have not seen role models rise through learning. Instead, they engage in social vices such as drugs, prostitution and armed robbery for their livelihoods. We must break this cycle of despair and depression. They need hope and motivation. They need to be inspired. I want to be that icon, that beacon of light for them, an example of someone who can succeed. I am willing to devote my life to this task, but need the opportunity now to continue my studies with a college education.
Today, LFC is a very successful charity with a membership of 200, and separate branches of the foundation have been started in other deprived countries of Africa. Now, my nickname is “The Youngest Philanthropist in Ghana,” and an article on HypeGH.com refers to me as “the youngest CEO in Ghana.” It has been quite a journey since I was known as “Kerosene Boy,” and as I approach age 19, I have only just begun.
(Please see – and “like” – our Facebook page for Love Foundation Club and review our website at http://lovefoundationclub.com)
Marcus Love Anafu Naazii