Wellness Advocates and Nurturing Nations help build a home and school for children in Ghana with special needs

Wellness Advocates and Nurturing Nations help build a home and school for children in Ghana with special needs


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While visiting West Africa in 2011 to adopt a little girl with Down syndrome, Wellness Advocates Mark and Laura Belk personally observed the neglect and persecution experienced by children in Ghana born with special needs.

“People have told us that nothing prepares you for Africa,” says Mark. “The conditions are so difficult, and they’re so easy to observe. There’s lots of need. Children with special needs, children that deviated in some way from the norm, are all considered cursed. That’s the culture.” Oftentimes, Mark explains, these children are killed by priests of the traditional religion in West Africa.

After this experience, the Belks were overwhelmed by the desire to help, protect, and educate the children born into these circumstances. They began the non-profit organization Nurturing Nations and began building a children’s home and school in Ghana straightaway to provide a safe and protected place for children with special needs. Additionally, Nurturing Nations provides education to communities in West Africa in an attempt to change the attitudes toward these children, and also to help break the cycle of poverty in these areas.

When Wellness Advocates Dave and Tammy Miller were introduced to the Belks through a mutual friend, they immediately wanted to participate in the efforts of Nurturing Nations. They began fundraising for the building of the children’s home and school, and found themselves passionately dedicated to the protection and education of African children with special needs or living in poverty. Dave and his son visited Ghana with the doTERRA Healing Hands Foundation™ in 2014 and were inspired and motivated to get the efforts of Nurturing Nations moving forward in West Africa.

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“People look at pictures [of Africa] and will think, ‘well, it doesn’t look that bad.’” Laura explains. “But when you’re there, you see that there is everything that you can imagine: the smells, the sights, and the sounds; this is their life. Every day. In this home where we have air conditioning, and we have clean water, we can’t just sit here and say ‘oh well.’ We can’t do that. We have to do something.”

In 2015, the Belks and the Millers participated in a matching campaign with the doTERRA Healing Hands Foundation for this cause. Their efforts resulted in over $20,000 that Nurturing Nations was able to use for the building of the children’s home and school in Ghana. Fruit trees, a garden, and a small farm on the property were also established using these donations to help supplement the food for the children at the home and school, and to provide hands-on education and experience in self-reliance through lessons on farming and food production.

Tuition from students attending the school is used toward the long-term sustainability of the special needs home while allowing all students to interact in a safe space dedicated to the protection and education of the children with special needs as well as children from the surrounding area, including those living in poverty. Thanks to the efforts of Nurturing Nations, these vulnerable children are receiving some of the safety, security, and education that they need.

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