Building an orphanage | Amanda's story

Danielle Petch

March 8th marks International Women’s Day, a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women everywhere. 

At TrustedHousesitters, we're proud to have so many incredible and caring women in our community. That's why, this International Women’s Day, we’re celebrating the achievements of some of the women in our community who, through volunteering and giving back, are helping to make the world a better place for people and animals alike.

However, we know there are many more stories to be told, which is why this Women’s History Month, we’re asking you to get in touch.

Amanda, a TrustedHousesitters member originally from Denver, CO, had the course of her life changed following a very special promise made during a trip to Ghana. This is her story. 

“I have always loved to travel and when I found TrustedHousesitters in January of 2018, I joined immediately because it combined my two favorite things: connection and adventure. There is no better way to connect than to live in their shoes and no better way to feel connected than to share the love of the pets.”

In August 2018, while finishing her Masters in Public Health, Amanda’s career and passion took her to Ghana as a Community Health Ambassador.

“While teaching hand washing to kids I came across an orphanage. I have visited orphanages in other developing countries and generally, they are not great places, but this one was different; the kids were happy, healthy, fully dressed and not starved for attention. These kids stayed on my mind and a few days later I went back and visited the lady who ran the place. I wanted to help, but as my education taught me, I didn’t assume what they might need, I asked.”

“You are doing a wonderful job here with the kids, and I want to help you,” I said. I was insistent that I wanted to do something they really needed. “Well, we need a new home,” she said sombrely. Wait, a building? I was flabbergasted. 

This was my defining moment, what John O’Leary would call an inflection point. Who was I and did I really care? Did I just want to do good and pat myself on the back and say job well done, or did I actually care about doing what they really needed? Was I in it for me or for them? 

Amanda discovered that the building the orphanage was currently occupying, built in 1842, was falling and becoming fast dilapidated. 

“I was SO not ok with this. The thought of all these kids who had been rescued from lives I can’t imagine, to find a place where they are happy and loved, and then to lose it all! I said the biggest ‘yes’ of my life. But this was no easy task, especially as a homeless unemployed grad student scraping by on savings...”

After her planned trip to Ghana came to an end, Amanda returned to London to mull over her recent trip. Along with the company of Lilah, one of her favourite dog walking pups, she began to process this massive undertaking during a run along the Thames.

“Fast forward two and a half years, a whole lot of struggle, a global pandemic, a lot of learning, some fundraising, hard work and skill of the local professionals and several trips back and forth, I am now living in Dodowa, Ghana, running my own nonprofit and working to not only finish the building I promised but working to improve the lives of all the kids of Dodowa."

"The first floor of Belief Home — given that name because I told the lady it was going to take a whole lot of belief to build it! — is finished, and now we are dreaming of what the second story will hold. We have aspirations of a library complete with computers, clinic space for our nurses, and more living space. We are also expanding beyond our home walls working with the local health directorate and social welfare to create the Belief Home Youth Center, a place for all the youth of Dodowa to learn to THRIVE.”

Many thanks to Amanda for sharing her story. To find out more about the work Amanda is doing at Belief Home, you can visit their website or follow them on Facebook and Instagram

Read more stories from the inspiring women of TrustedHousesitters…

Building an online community | Read Vanessa’s story

Volunteering around the world | Read Debra’s story

Cycling for Children in Need | Read Sarah’s story

Animal rescue in Spain | Read Jill’s story

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