A Myjoyonline report about a man who emerged from poverty and into the Ivy Leagues was the impetus for international exposure, leading his former school to name a block in his honour.

Maclean ‘Mac’ Sarbah, who recently graduated with a Masters from Harvard University, said he was “surprised and emotional” when he discovered that Yeji’s Royal Educational Complex decided to dedicate a building to him. The school, which he attended for primary and junior high school (JHS), invited him to speak to its students about the power of education, but upon arrival, administrators had an entirely different plan arranged.

“They ended up planning a festival in front of about 2000 school children. They were really inspired. It was surreal. I’m so grateful to the school,” he told Myjoyonline. “In many ways, this was a recognition of the hard work and support of family, friends, teachers, classmates, staff at every school and mentors. It’s a recognition of God’s grace for the unworthy. I couldn’t have done it alone. I believe it’s for a bigger purpose than for yourself”

Maclean Sarbah

Mac in front of the kindergarten classroom where his journey started.

Mac is one of eight children who was born and raised in Yeji, a rural town in Ghana’s Brong Ahafo region to Tongu immigrant parents from Mepe-Battor in the Volta region. His steady drive to surpass meagre living conditions propelled him to graduate from some of the world’s leading universities, including Columbia University, the University of Cambridge and Harvard University.

After numerous visits back and forth to Ghana, while living abroad, Mac came back yet again – this time, to give back. His homecoming began like any other. He spent time with family and friends, visited his favourite local restaurants and met new people to broaden his network. Within days, news of his arrival swirled. The Diaspora Affairs, Office of the President called asking him to speak at a panel. Then invitation’s from the nation’s universities flooded in. Suddenly, an endless stream of media houses reached out. It was nothing short of overwhelming, he recalls.

“I didn’t envisage the degree of coverage I would receive. I had no idea that the news of my experience would spread in the way that it did. I believe God elevates you, so you can serve others. I am grateful to God.”

VIDEO of Mac shaking hands with students

Then finally, the climax: a trip to the Royal Educational Complex. Although the experience was one of the most memorable of his life, he admit that the area was in a retrogressive state. “I underestimated the severity of what we went through,” said Mac. “I kind of lost sight of the nature of the place. Seeing it was like ‘wow,’ this is where we came from?”

To help, Mac is praying to God for His grace so that, with support of similar-minded people, we can contribute to education through the Sarbah Foundation. He is also passionate about playing a role in education and entrepreneurship and would like to see what partnerships he can build to help elevate Ghana. Finally, he sees himself in leadership, if God wills it, making a difference and hoping to change lives across the continent.

“Mac’s hard work and dedication serve as inspiration for our students to see how far they can go if they are persistent and continue to reach for their goals,” said Mr Owusu Amponsah, Director of Sefah Bonsu Royal Educational Complex. “We felt it was necessary to name a block after him.”

The struggle is a part of the process, Mac concluded. “But remain relentless,” he urged those in need of motivation. “The capability to emerge out of the most humbling background is where the power lies. Trust God.”