“To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
In 2008, Holly Foutz, a member of the Communal Restaurant team, traveled to Ghana for the first time to meet her soon to be adopted son, Kwasi. On return trips to Ghana while performing humanitarian work alongside their department of social welfare, Holly and her family witnessed the heartbreaking plight of children with disabilities and the urgent need for more specialized care.
Despite laws prohibiting the mistreatment of children with disabilities, many people continue killing children with only minor birth defects. Because so many Ghanaians still believe that a child with a disability is a “spirit child,” parents often feel pressure to adhere to these customs. Families who don’t comply with the superstitious obligations to kill their child are often banished from the community.
And thus begins the story of Acacia Shade, a non-profit organization Holly founded that is dedicated to the welfare of children with disabilities in Ghana.
“It’s hard to imagine the difficulties these sweet children have if you haven’t seen it first hand. They are dependent on someone for everything they need and yet many have no one. They don’t stand a chance at survival if they are abandoned and many are killed,” Holly says.
Holly put together a board of committed volunteers who share a common vision and sense of compassion. “We are so richly blessed here that after seeing the desperate plight of these children there is no way I could not do something, anything, to help. It takes so little from all of us to make a huge difference to one of them.”
Acacia Shade’s mission is to operate special care facilities run by a caring staff. By relocating high-risk children to Acacia Shade homes, they hope to give these children a chance to thrive and live happy and fulfilling lives. Beyond care facilities, they work with local and national government agencies to educate communities and build long-term solutions for integrating the children back into families, schools, and society.
“I hope everyone who hears about what we are trying to do will consider one thing they could go without to help save one of these deserving souls. One of the most rewarding things for me about the whole process of forming this foundation is to witness the generosity and kindness of so many. It strengthens my faith in humanity and warms my heart.”
How You Can Help:
Visit the Acacia Shade website (www.acaciashade.org) to donate, signup for their newsletter, and learn about volunteering and fundraising.
Follow Acacia Shade on Facebook (www.facebook.com/giveshade)