Sunday, April 2, 2017


"None of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can do small things with great love, and together we can do something wonderful."

- Mother Teresa

We embarked on our latest trip to Ghana with great purpose, filled with the desire to achieve something meaningful, to fulfill that yearning that mothers have to fix something(or someone) that is broken, to instill hope, offer encouragement, to serve, strengthen and most importantly, to love. 

It was my first time back to Ghana in over a year when we moved our kid's into the new home that we built for them at GMAD. We were so excited (as always) to see them and had planned for many other service projects to do while there that were in line with our cause. Also, this time we were bringing along ten strong and wonderful women and we knew that together, as we arrived, our bags bursting at the seams with supplies and our hearts equally as full, we could turn love's whisper into a shout!


Being our first ever Women's trip we didn't know quite what to expect, or how the ladies would fare in a third world county. 
We knew it wasn't for the faint of heart. The problems and challenges of the people we encounter can be enormous, as are the unshakable pains our hearts would feel. 

Even so, as board members, we were so excited to share that "something" that we feel when we come to Ghana. That thing that is impossible to put into words or try to explain to someone who has never been there. It's not just a feeling but an overall experience. 

You see, each person that we meet in Ghana has a story we haven't heard, dreams we haven't yet imagined, and a present-day reality that is just as real as our own, and what we have come to realize each time we meet them is that they have more to give us than we could ever give to them. 

It is a privilege to learn from them, to feel their strength, to hear their stories and share them, and then to be inspired to do something to help, however and wherever we can.  It is these kinds of experiences that captivate our hearts for Ghana and her people.

We also didn't know how lucky we would be to get this particular group of ladies, many unknown to each other but yet so perfectly meshed in their reasons for coming.
It takes a certain kind of person to leave their families and comforts of home, to travel 1000's of miles around the world into some of the most unpleaseant conditions to help people they don't know and may never see again.... and on top of that, Pay to do it! 

But to our delight, what every one of these women possessed was a strong desire to leave their imprint on the lives of their brothers and sisters in Ghana. To bring them hope, comfort, and to just let their hearts be expanded, knowing that they could be.


Once we touched down in Ghana we literally hit the ground running and arrived at GMAD, and our home there, to the familiar smiles and hugs of the kids and staff who never cease to makes us feel like long lost besties! Even those they are meeting for the first time. It's one of the things I love most about Ghana, because they all do that and really, who doesn't like to be showered with love?

There were so many highlights from this trip that it is hard to do them justice in a single blog post but I will do my best to convey, as concisely as possible, a few of my personal favorites. 

Here Goes.....

The School for Special Needs Children in Aboom. It never disappoints! We arrived to their exuberant hugs, and also painted the outside of their school(which was long over due for a paint job) Oh these kids!! I forget how they steal your heart from the moment you step off the bus. It was the best way to spend our first full day in Ghana. 

I think I can safely say that a favorite of all of ours was the day we arranged to meet with three mothers (and sons) in their village. These women inspired us to have a life marked with their same unwavering strength, hope and resolve. As mothers we sat together with their sweet boys and shared a moment in time but as we left, our hearts were filled with their beautiful faces, knowing that now they will forever be etched in our thoughts and become a part of our prayers. 

It was a joy to reconnect with little Wisdom, a darling boy we met two years ago in a remote village in the Volta region.  Getting to see how he is accepted and loved in his village and that he is truly flourishing made our hearts so happy! 

Another notable highlight was meeting with the incredible Kekeli foundation, whose work includes creating self-advocacy groups while working to get inclusive schooling for young people with disabilities. We got to deliver supplies we had collected for them and see the goat farm we had raised money to help them build for the purpose of educating these special young people in the trade of goat farming. And we so loved getting to meet with the those future goat famers!

We were so fortunate to have the always inspiring Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, join us for an assembly we organized at the local school near our home at GMAD. The children were riveted as they listened to his story, while hearing how he is working to change the perceptions of people with disabilities by empowering them, promoting their well-being and creating global awareness. Emmanuel believes, as do we, that changing age-old perceptions needs to begin with educating the rising generation about these issues, which is done by creating awareness and inclusion in the schools. We came away from this day encouraged about the way things are going in Ghana, and although it's just a small start we are going to keep working to reach out to more and more schools as we brainstorm ways to further create inclusivity and awareness. 

When meeting with the various organizations we went to help. I was (as I always am) in complete awe of the people who run them. They make it their life's purpose to convey value, and significance to those who have long been forgotten, shunned and neglected. This is just a part-time gig for us, but these people are on the front lines everyday facing seemingly insurmountable challenges while working with the most vulnerable of Ghana's children who live in inescapable poverty. There truly are angels who walk the earth and it is always  humbling to walk among them. 

Last, but in no way the least of our highlights, was seeing four (not so little anymore) children that we have come to love as our own. They captured our hearts long ago and have been the inspiration for us to do what we do at Acacia Shade. Although we continue to evolve and grow as we reach out to help educate, create awareness, and provide assistance to as many of Ghana's most vulnerable children and their families as we can, we will never forget the four who started it all. We cherish any time we have with them and our hearts swell with pride as we see the progress in their lives and the milestones they reach, and surpass. We love that they are now part of GMAD, where they are accepted, included and loved by their peers, nannies, and all the staff there.

Once again, Ghana delivered an unforgettable trip to us and we are really proud of what we were able to accomplish there together. Although we are reminded of the ongoing challenges ahead, we are hopeful and we come back home resolved to keep things moving forward for Acacia Shade. We will keep adding to our continuing list of projects to tackle, always with gratitude for the things that we're learning and especially for the constant reminder that we all belong to each other.