Sheila Opoku-Agyeman: Demonstrating Love and Care for Orphans in Their Distress

| February 5, 2012

Have you ever paused from your busy life to ponder how you could help someone less fortunate than you live an easier life? Have you ever tried to heed that voice that says you have something valuable to offer the world outside of just living and breathing in it? Or better yet, have you ever wondered what your purpose is in this life besides simply existing and following a set path of life? Many of the women who make it onto the covers of Afrikan Goddess Magazine all seem to have answered their internal voices. Many have inspired and encouraged us to look beyond ourselves to reach out to others. And no matter how small their contributions may seem, they at least give credence to the believe that all it takes is one person to say, “I want to make a difference. I want to help.” It takes compassion and a sense of responsibility to the world outside of yourself to do that. That change need not shake the entire universe; as long as lives are impacted. And there is no better time to reflect on compassion for our fellow human-beings than now. It is February, the month is which we celebrate love and protect our hearts from heart disease. What better month to bring you a woman who in her own small way is making a change in the lives of others. She is our February goddess because she embodies the spirit of a true Afrikan goddess.

Sheila Opoku-Agyeman is soft-spoken and gentle, but you don’t have to strain your ears in order to hear the compassion in her voice. It is a compassion that is clearly stated in the mission statement of the organization she founded in 2010, and of which she serves as its President and CEO. The mission statement of Sweet Hope International is Biblical. James 1:27 says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being populated by the world (NIV).” It is the mission of Sweet Hope International to demonstrate love, care and concern for orphans by visiting and taking care of orphans through the provision of food, clothing, toys and books. And every year for the last five years, Sheila has made it her mission to make trips to Ghana to do just that – to demonstrate love, care and concern for orphans, providing them with food, clothing, toys and books.

Sheila Opoku Agyeman was born in Ghana, West Africa in 1979. She moved to the United States when she was ten years-old and has since become an American. But, becoming an American through lifestyle change, thought process, and an acquired citizenship has not stopped her from loving the country of her birth. Through regular visits to Ghana, Sheila has kept in touch with family. According to her, those visits back home were always fun and something to look forward to, but as the years passed by, the fun became mundane. She realized she wanted those visits to mean more than just a fun vacation. She wanted them to be productive and purpose-filled.

It was during a flight en route to Ghana from Liberia, in 2006, that Sheila says things eventually became clear. She had been to Liberia on a missions trip. On the trip back to Ghana, something that had been stirring inside of her for some time suddenly became something stronger than just random thoughts. She knew she wanted to make a difference in some way. Her love of children would lead her to consider opening up an orphanage. But, as she considered that mission, she realized that doing so would be counterproductive. There were already a few orphanages in Ghana that she knew of, she had even visited a few and noticed their deplorable states. So instead, she decided it would be best, and probably more sensible, to help fund the ones that already exist.

Sheila became seriously involved in orphanage visits and funding in 2007. However, Sweet Hope International did not become an official non-profit organization until March 2010. Sheila laughs as she shares the story behind the name Sweet Hope International, Inc. To explain this, she throws in a few Akan words that go to show that this lady has indeed kept in touch with her roots despite her long stay in the United States. Her “ofie din,” as Ghanaians call it, is “Sweetie”. Every Ghanaian worth their salt has an “ofie din.” (Ofie din loosely translated means house name). It is the name given a person, and used mostly, by their family. Very few, except those very close to you, get to know or use it. Outside at school she may have been called Sheila, but the moment she stepped inside the compound of her house, she was mostly referred to as Sweetie. Revealing this “ofie din” makes us both giggle because we know the implications behind such a name. Sheila says she always knew that name was given to her because she was “created to bring sweetness into the lives of others.” It is true what they say. A person’s name most often is a reflection of their inner spirit, and Sheila definitely is living out her name. She added “International” to the name of the organization because she refuses to limit her dreams. Sheila sees a great future for Sweet Hope International. She already partners with the Home of Love Orphanage, a Ugandan based home for orphaned children, to assist the Cherubs Orphanage in Kumasi in Ghana. Sweet Hope International has adopted 46 children to date, 16 of whom are currently being sponsored by individuals through Sweet Hope International.

In September 2010, Sheila spent a day at the Cherubs Orphanage Home in Kumasi observing the children and interacting with them about their lives, dreams and their needs. Although the children are well-taken care of by those who run the home, there are also needs that must be provided to make their lives even easier. The children range in ages from six months to their early twenties and to many of them, this will be the only home they ever know. To them, someone like Sheila is that distant aunt who visits once a year bearing gifts of things they need – clothing, shoes, bedsheets, sanitary pads for the older girls, and other necessities – but for Sheila, her greatest joy is in knowing that these children are well-fed and happy when they lay their heads to sleep at night. She knows they need help and she does her best to provide that help. And she is very much aware of the distrust that exists among Africans when it comes to such causes, and so she is sure to share frequent updates of her trips on the organization’s facebook page. It is also the main reason why she founded Sweet Hope International – for legitimacy. Someone has to do it, and if in her own small way, making trips back home means a visit to see the external family she has supported for over five years, out of her own earnings, then she is willing to make that sacrifice because she is practicing her religion in a “pure and faultless way” by “demonstrating love, care and concern for orphans in their distress.”

To learn more about Sweet Hope International, Inc. and ways you can be of help, visit the organization homepage at www.sweethopeinternational.org or on their facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sweet-Hope-International-Inc/107655582657887

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
AG Magazine

AG Magazine

AFRIKAN GODDESS MAGAZINE is a subsidiary of Afrikan Goddess Media, LLC. Our content is designed with the educated, professional, classy, charming and sassy African woman in mind. We encourage women to express their creativity and ideas through writing, and also serve as a platform for meaningful discussions and exchange of ideas.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedIn

Comments

comments

Tags:

Category: Goddesses

Comments (2)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Abena says:

    This is an amazing woman! I applaud her efforts. You can see the love and connection in the pictures above.

  2. CONGRATULATIONS!!!! Sheila and keep up the good work!!!