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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

SE employee survives war, now reaches out to others

Edmund+Tamakloe%2C+who+has+worked+in+the+SE+Campus+library+since+2007%2C+is+currently+writing+a+book+about+his+experiences+as+a+war+victim+in+Africa.+Photo+by+Taurence+Williams%2FThe+Collegian
Edmund Tamakloe, who has worked in the SE Campus library since 2007, is currently writing a book about his experiences as a war victim in Africa. Photo by Taurence Williams/The Collegian

By Elaine Bonilla/se news editor

Edmund Tamakloe, who has worked in the SE Campus library since 2007, is currently writing a book about his experiences as a war victim in Africa.  Photo by Taurence Williams/The Collegian
Edmund Tamakloe, who has worked in the SE Campus library since 2007, is currently writing a book about his experiences as a war victim in Africa. Photo by Taurence Williams/The Collegian

The explosions of bombs and firing of guns are now only memories of what it was like for one TCC employee, raised in and survivor of a civil war.

Edmund Tamakloe was born in an eastern region of Ghana, Africa, with his divorced single mom and eventually moved to the city of Accra to live with his dad. At age 6, Tamakloe’s mother died. Soon after, his dad died too, leaving him an orphan at 9.

“Once my parents were both gone, my half-sister adopted me and took me to live with her in Liberia,” Tamakloe said.

There, he lived for eight years in the midst of the Liberian Civil War.

He said living in wartime is the worst thing a person can go through, and it’s nothing like the way Hollywood describes it, finding romance in such times.

“War for me was brutal and gruesome,” he said. “There were rebels and militia everywhere, and no one was helping us. We knew people who would get raped and killed.”

Walking outside was very dangerous. Bullets hit their building, and bombs went off in their neighborhood, Tamakloe said.

“We couldn’t even sleep in our beds because that was too high off the ground, and we could be shot,” he said. “To sleep, we had to dismantle our beds and sleep on the floor.”

Tamakloe said it was bad, but then a vigilante group came in to help. It was their job to keep their eyes open for anyone coming.

Eventually, the rebels ambushed the group and killed them including Tamakloe’s cousin. Tamakloe and his family moved and became refugees.

“Moving was probably the most dangerous because there were soldiers everywhere,” he said. “Many of the soldiers were just children who were given drugs and turned into soldiers.”

Once the civil war ended, Tamakloe’s aunt and her husband spoke with his half-sister about taking over his legal guardianship. This adoption would give Tamakloe the chance to move to the United States with his aunt. Once the adoption was agreed upon, it took two years for the adoption to be finalized because of the war.

“We felt it was better to move to the U.S., and there were more opportunities,” he said. “I was brought here [Texas] in 2005 when I was 17. Now I’m 25.”

Once in Texas, Tamakloe attended TCC, something he couldn’t have done in Africa.

“As a student, I loved reading and knowledge, so I was always in the library,” he said. “Then one day, I asked someone if the library was hiring, and they were.”

He began working in the SE library in May 2007 and became a full-time employee in April 2011.

Public services librarian Vidya Krishnaswamy said the library was a good fit for Tamakloe.

“I have known Edmund for four-and-a-half years, and since then, he has accomplished so much,” she said. “He has even written a book.”

Tamakloe self-published Long Live Avalon, a novel about two princesses who put aside their power struggle to save their kingdom of Avalon.

After graduating from TCC, he transferred to the University of Texas at Arlington, but he became seriously ill.

“I got so sick,” he said. “I really thought I was going to die.”

Tamakloe woke up one day and questioned why he had survived so much only to become deathly ill.

“I began wondering what the meaning of this life was,” he said. “I felt as if I was walking around like a blind person. I didn’t have any real perspective.”

Tamakloe wanted to know how he could change. He researched and read about other people to gain perspective on life. Then, he began mentoring and coaching young men and women through their hardships.

Many of those he helps are friends, youth groups and orphans. He then created a blog — letters2youngmenandwomen.wordpress.com, — as a way to reach out to others by providing insights for young people and how everything has a lesson to be learned from it.

“The goal is to give insight to life to young people who don’t know how to approach their life,” he said. “We all have choices to make and by thinking the decision through, you can determine if it’s the best decision.”

Topics include life, self-esteem, love and marriage. Tamakloe said in one blog he talks about the powerful tool of imagination and tells how it can be used to help improve personal and professional problems.

“Sometimes, people go through horrible things, but, believe it or not, good things will come out of it,” he said. “Sure, some stories are painful, but they weren’t always painful.”

Library services director Jo Klemm said Tamakloe is a perfect example of someone who has achieved the dream.

“Had he never come to

the U.S., he wouldn’t have had the chance to an education,” Klemm said. “He even uses his past to help others through anything they are going through.”

Krishnaswamy described Tamakloe as nice and likable. Sometimes when students approach the desk at the library, they specifically ask for him, she said.

Tamakloe is currently working on a book about his experiences and life as a war victim.

“Life has always been a challenge and an uphill battle,” he said. “That’s why I have my blog — to let people know everyone goes through hardships.” 

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