Life-Threatening Journey Fueled by Quest for Freedom
What if, at 13 years old, you had to flee your home due to a civil war, board a ship sailing to a foreign country and start a new life not knowing what the future had in store?
That is exactly what FedEx Ground team member Sydney Ocran experienced. His quest for freedom fueled a life-threatening journey from Liberia to the United States.
Overcoming the Impossible: At Sea and Then a Refugee
Ocran grew up in West Africa, but his circumstances quickly changed when a civil war erupted in Liberia. Separated from his family amidst the turmoil and bombings, Ocran fled to the Freeport of Monrovia in Liberia and hid inside a cargo ship.
The ship sailed the following morning with thousands of refugees onboard.
“I remember seeing people buried at sea and quickly realized that I had to fend for myself since I had no food and water for three days. I was weak, hungry, and thirsty, which put me in survival mode. I went from living to existing.”
The ship reached the coast of Ghana three days later.
Ocran survived the difficult moments by remembering his grandmother’s last words and the values she instilled in him as a child in Liberia.
“She told me to appreciate life,” he said. “Love, learn and never give up on your dreams. Never compromise your freedom and integrity. Always know that there is one thing that cannot be incarcerated: your imagination.”
Ocran spent the next eight years in a refugee camp in Ghana, where he married and had two children. He provided for his family with little to no access to basic life necessities. In constant search of ways to improve his situation, Ocran came across something that gave him a glimmer of hope: the United Nations was providing scholarships to refugees. Those who passed an exam would be granted the opportunity to study in another country. Ocran took the exam, but didn’t pass on his first try.
He held on to the belief that something better awaited him, so he tried again. This time he passed and received a chance to study in Russia. He arrived in Moscow with just $5 in his pocket and was told no additional financial assistance would be provided. Ocran saw this as just another challenge he knew he could overcome. He remembered what his grandmother taught him: failure was not an option.
Bringing Life Lessons to FedEx
Sydney has since received a doctorate from the Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia and has worked as a professor, journalist, manager, social worker and, most recently, talent acquisition coordinator for FedEx Ground. He reflects on his achievements and continued growth by providing opportunities to people in his community.
Ocran said his life experiences have given him the ability to understand the value of people and building healthy relationships. His job at FedEx runs deeper than bringing new talent through the door. Ocran relates with others by sharing his journey and what FedEx has meant to him.
“I try in every possible way to understand the struggle of every individual I meet and ensure them that FedEx is not just a job but also a window of opportunity,” Ocran said.
“You see, the beauty of life is that, if you stop trying, you will fail, but if you keep trying with perseverance, determination and hard work, you are bound to succeed.”