Watching Doctor Abio Ayeliya, anyone can see the energy he exudes. Working as a coordinator in Student Life and Leadership one wouldn’t necessary think about what struggles Ayeliya has grown through to get where he is now.
It’s only been a short six years since Ayeliya left his small village in Ghana and came to America in hopes of making it. Now he is working in an office with a telephone and electricity is worlds from what he was used to.
Starting from a young age he worked on his families’ farm.
“I grew up with 12 [other siblings]… my family did subsistence farming.” The food that was raised was primarily used to continue feeding the family.
Growing up in poverty hasn’t negatively affected the view that Ayeliya has about the world.
“I don’t think its anybody’s fault,” he said.
The little time that he wasn’t helping on his farm he spent in school. It was during the time at school that he had a chance encounter with the Peace Corps volunteer who noticed the situation that Ayeliya was going through.
“I was struggling to go to school…he saw my situation,” he said.
The meeting of the two formed a close friendship. After the completion of his secondary school education Ayeliya immigrated to the U.S. to attend an American University. In order to get him to America $25,000 had to be raised first.
“I’m very grateful for the opportunity to come here,” Ayeliya said when describing how much he appreciates the opportunity to study in America and the peace core volunteer who made it possible for him to continue his studies.
Arriving at Eastern Oregon University, Ayeliya didn’t ever allow the challenges of a different culture to dimmer his drive to succeed. He attributes the community feel for the reason on why he never felt isolated from others.
“I was excited to be here –the community was very supportive — I had a great time,” he said.
Given the opportunity by others to improve his life, Ayeliya is now doing the same for others now. Majoring in a business, he took courses to gain more knowledge about non-profit organizations. The Sabu Help organization started by Ayeliya has existed for over two years now. Instead of going for the band aid approach of handing out funds the organization gives out micro loans.
The organization primarily assists people who come from the same village as Ayeliya. Each person who seeks the funds, which is $150 is required to pay back the amount they borrowed within a year.
“Our principle is to teach them to fish for themselves,” Ayeliya said. He claims that by making the recipients responsible for returning the funds, the long-term goal of empowering people is being made.
“We exist to create opportunity for underprivileged people to earn a living,” he said.
By running the organization Ayeliya feels like he is helping the people back home. “Sometimes it isn’t that the poor made a choice [to be poor]… it’s that the opportunity isn’t there for them.”
For anyone who would like more information about the foundation visit Sabuhelp.org.