Harlan County

courtesy Derek Akal

This is the last part of our Struggle to Stay series, and the final chapter of Derek Akal’s Struggle to Stay. Derek, 22, is from a coal-camp town called Lynch, in Harlan County, Kentucky. If you haven’t caught his earlier stories, here’s a quick recap: Derek says he wants to leave eastern Kentucky to find work. A few years ago, he moved away on a college football scholarship, but then a neck injury led him to move back home. 


Benny Becker/ WMMT

This is chapter two of Derek Akal’s Struggle to Stay. In the first chapter, we met a young man from Harlan County, Kentucky, who thought a college football scholarship was going to be his ticket out. But a serious neck injury led Derek to drop out and move back home.