An underprivileged man who became homeless after he was jailed in 1996 for 10 years in the Upper East Region for reportedly stealing a donkey is now close to moving from a terrible cubicle where he sleeps currently to a decent building he can call his own house.

Three months ago, Starr News told the story of Zack Aduko who has lived for 14 years so far in a little structure built from rejected roofing sheets and some old wood.

His daughter died aged 21 years shortly after he was released from the Navrongo Central Prisons in 2006.

Those who were once close to him reportedly distanced themselves from him because of his ex-convict background.

Overwhelmed by a chronic stigma associated with his past prison years, soft-spoken Zack turned to a bushy 3-acre piece of land said to belong to his father and resettled there as a loner.

Despite the hardship he faced, he managed to gather some seedlings of high-value crops, planted them on that inherited property and changed the bush into a rare palm grove.

On the same land he also raised a plantation of orange, cassava, mango and banana among other edible greens.

That windowless cubicle, where he sleeps and which he says he is compelled to share with wandering snakes because the structure has no door, stands at the mercy of heavy rains and unpredictable storms on that plantation at Nyariga, a farming suburb of the Upper East regional capital, Bolgatanga.

Moved by the maiden story Starr News told about him around the middle of the year, a pilot, Nasser Saleh Sinare, donated Gh¢3,500 to him through Starr News.

“In fact, it’s something which has touched my heart honestly. I have an air-conditioner in my room, car, etc. And for this man to sleep in this poor structure, it’s sad. I hope our Agric Ministry or NGOs will help his plantation. He’s done what Napoleon couldn’t do,” Captain Nasser told Starr News in May.

That cash was handed over to Zack on his farm 24 hours after the airplane captain had transferred it. Zack’s teacher friend, Titus Alika, who brought the ex-convict’s suffering to Starr News’ notice this year, added the pilot-donated cash to some Gh¢500 he had mobilized from some sympathetic residents to build a suitable house for the poor prisoner-turned-planter.

The construction of the house, which started in no time thereafter with some 550 bricks Titus had provided on his own for Zack whilst he was mobilising funds for the building project, is at the lintel level today.

In dire need of water pump

There is an old canal around the plantation that draws water from the Vea Dam in the next-door district, Bongo.

Zack has been struggling to fetch water from that channel to irrigate especially the young crops on the farm. Hopes were high, after his story was first told to the world outside his farm, that his appeal for a water pump would yield relief.

But months after he made that appeal, his routine back-and-forth struggle – carrying water in buckets between the farm and the canal – persists.

“We still need money for the roofing of the building, for the plastering and to pay for the labour services of the carpenter. We need a door and frames for the door and the windows. He needs a water pump and, if there is money, he can buy seeds in advance to store towards the dry season. He also needs some fertiliser for the farmland.

“He is managing to survive. The last time, a woman gave me a bowl of uncooked rice to be given to him. He was excited for the support when I delivered the rice to him. But, as he is still living in the poor structure on his farm, he’s not okay – with the cold, the weather – you can imagine. He is fortunate this year as the rain is not much, unlike last year when he woke up one morning and a heavy rain had washed away the fowls he also had on the farm,” Titus, a renowned radio broadcaster in the region, told Starr News.