Ellie Grace [3 weeks]

My girl has been home three weeks. I can’t believe how fast the time has flown. It feels like just yesterday I was walking into the Babies Home, picking up a frail, sad, and broken baby and whispering in her ear, “Momma is here. Momma is here. Today you are going home. Home with me. The day is finally here. Baby girl, you are so so loved.”

The baby I brought home that day is nowhere near the baby that is sitting in my lap today. Her hair is dark brown, no longer orangeish. Her skin in dark caramel, no longer grey. Her muscles are loose, no longer tight. Her teeth are coming in, she no longer has the gummy grin. Her belly sticks out, ribs no longer showing.

I could go on and on about all the physical changes that have taken place, but the biggest change, by far, has been in my girl’s heart.

When she first entered the Babies Home in February 2014, she would not make eye contact with anyone. She showed no emotion. She never cried. Her face never changed. Her eyes never lit up. She had no energy to do anything but keep her organs running. Over the months she began to come alive. Just after her twin brother passed away, she made eye contact with me for the first time. And I saw straight into her soul, one filled with hurt, loss, and a lot of pain. It was that same day that I knew God was calling me to be her momma. It took her another month to keep eye contact with me for more than a second. It took her another month to smile at me for the first time.

The day I brought her home, everything clicked for her. I was her momma, she was my daughter. And she wasn’t going back to the Babies Home ever again. She was coming home for good. On the car ride home, she fell asleep on me for the first time ever, and her tiny fingers gripped tightly to my shirt the entire nap. The day she came home I saw her smile big for the first time. Babble for the first time. Cry for the first time. And show emotion for the first time. She finally felt secure enough to let down those massive walls surrounding her heart. I don’t blame her for keeping them up, she has been through more loss & suffering in her short 14 months of life than I could ever imagine. But God, God assured her over and over again, that she can be free. That she has a momma who will fill her every need. That she will no longer go hungry. No longer crave love and affection. No longer go without stimulation. No longer go without a family. That day she came home will forever be one of the best days of my life, for I saw so clearly God create a daughter from an orphan.

Most adoptive momma’s worry about attachment and bonding, and I worried about those things before she came home too. I prayed many prayers to our Maker that my daughter know from the very beginning that I’m her momma, and I’m not going anywhere. And my prayers were fulfilled tenfold. The day Ellie came home, she would not allow anyone to hold her but me. No one could feed her but me. No one could put her to sleep but me. If she was crying, I was the only person that could soothe her. I was the only person that could rock her on my back when she was in pain. My girl, she knew. She knew I was her momma. During her six months at the Babies Home, I only saw her once a week, and it took her five months to even slightly recognize me. With all of her special needs & brain issues, many doctors have said that she might not have the function to recognize people, let alone form a solid attachment to one person. And I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that God had been preparing my girl for a long, long time. Through Him and Him alone, Ellie and I have the strongest bond. Ask anyone who has seen us together here in Ghana, and they will tell you that Ellie Grace knows and loves her momma. When I walk into the room she lights up and laughs. She follows me around the room as I walk completing tasks. She whimpers when she sees me leave the room. And every single time her eyes connect with mine, she smiles. Every single time.  

It is the biggest blessing to be the momma of Ellie Grace, my pint sized miracle girl. My sunshine, my princess, my daughter.

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Posted in Blog Update, Ellie Grace, Ghana, Living in Ghana, My Treasures | 1 Comment

Ellie Grace: It’s Official

Ellie Grace came home Tuesday August 26th when she was discharged from the Babies Home and into my care. Wednesday September 3rd we went to court and stood before a judge, and now she is legally mine.

When I first knew I was to be her momma months ago, when God so clearly laid it on my heart, I knew there was a chance she could never legally be my daughter. I know how the governmental systems can work here, and knew that it would be a massive fight for me to gain custody of her. But I would not let fear hold me back, it was all or nothing.

So I started the paperwork and completed all necessary steps. She was discharged from the Babies Home and into my arms. But there was one more hurdle to maneuver, and it was the biggest of all. I needed to compile a case to be presented in court as to why I should be granted custody, and a judge would decide if Ellie could be legally my daughter. And that last, most important step, terrified me. I knew in my heart she was already my daughter, and had been for a while, and the thought of losing her was unbearable.

We pressed onwards and complied the case. A court date was scheduled. I got her dressed that morning in our matching Ghanaian outfits, and knew that the day would either make or break my heart. But I stood firm in the fact that I knew God had so clearly chosen Ellie to be my daughter, and knew that whatever happened, He was in control.

After waiting what felt like hours, we were called into the court room. The case was presented, the judge asked me some questions, the panel deliberated, Ellie was babbling loudly the whole time, and after being in the court room less than 10 minutes, the judge said, “I have no more questions. This case is obvious. She belongs with you. I am granting you legal guardianship with no reservations. You may even travel outside Ghana with her. Congratulations, she’s yours now.”

And with those words, it became official what I’ve known in my heart for months. Ellie Grace is my daughter. Legally.

The rest of the day was a blur of celebration and kissing my girl’s cheeks about a thousand times and telling her how much I love her. All my Ghanaian friends & I danced and jumped joyfully as we celebrated the huge milestone, an orphan becoming a daughter…Ellie Grace becoming mine.

But this is just the beginning of our journey together. Being a single mom to a special needs 16 month old is faaaaaar from easy, but most definitely worth it. I cherish each and every day with my pint sized miracle girl & marvel at all the progress she’s made in the last two weeks with me. It is the greatest God-gifted blessing to be her momma…in my heart…and now on paper.

[I did not know that the judge would grant me permission to travel with Ellie outside the country. I am working on getting her birth certificate, passport, and American visitors visa so we can come see family and friends in America within the next year! Yippie!!]

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When you pray bold prayers part 2….[Meet Ellie Grace]

I want to tell you about two warriors.
I want to tell you about love, loss, heartbreak, and Jesus healing all.
I want to tell you about these two warriors coming home.
I want to tell you about my treasured son and daughter.

** Names have been changed for privacy & parts of the story have been excluded for personal/legal reasons **

In January 2014, I moved indefinitely to Ghana to follow God’s call to be His hands & feet in this small West African country. I had no idea the plans He had for me, but I faithfully packed up my life and moved across the globe. Less than a month living in Ghana I got an email from a Ghanaian man named Joseph that said, “My wife’s sister just passed away leaving behind six children. 4 primary school aged children and 10 month old twins. The 4 older children are living with their grandmother in a village and the twins are staying with different people. The twins are underdeveloped and not feeding well. Can you help me?”

Because of my connections with many non profits here, I get these calls/emails frequently about children who need assistance. I investigate every case and see if I can help them directly, or connect them with a partner organization that can offer any services or programs. Even though I get these requests for help often, this one seemed different. It touched my heart in a different way and I felt the nudge to act. I picked up the phone and called Joseph. I learned more about the situation and my heart broke even further. Since their mother’s death, the twins had been passed from person to person because no one could provide nutrition or medical care. I knew I needed to do something.

I got off the phone, began to pray for discernment and guidance, and asked friends and family to join me in lifting this situation up to our Father.

I do not believe in removing children from their biological or extended family unless absolutely necessary. I believe in supporting, encouraging, and assisting the family that God born them into, before considering removing children. I believe that orphanages should be the last resort for children, but often times they are used as the first and only option.  Most times, with economic assistance, families can, and want to, take care of their children. (For more information, please check out Abide Family Center).

I called Joseph back the following day and asked him if any family members would be able to care for the twins with support of formula, diapers, wipes, etc, along with financial provision. I explained to him that I whole-heartedly didn’t want to bring the twins to an orphanage without exhausting all options of keeping them in their family. He said he would talk to the family when they gathered for the funeral of the twins’ mother.

I prayed constantly for these two sweet babies, their older siblings, and for the entire family. I wanted someone to step up and offer to take care of them. I wanted this to be a success story of keeping a family together through economic support. I wanted to walk alongside this family and watch all the kids grow up healthy and happy. I wanted none of the children to be in an orphanage. I wanted the utmost best for all of them. So I prayed and prayed, and knew that the Maker of the universe had every little detail already planned out.

A month later, Joseph called back and said that when the entire extended family gathered, no one wanted to care for the twins, for various reasons. I didn’t ask about any details, nor did I want to stick my nose too deep into their family’s issues. Joseph also said that he approached a few local orphanages to see if they could take the twins in, and they all said they were full. He said, “Rebecca, I am worried the twins will die very soon. They are underdeveloped and have only been fed rice and water for months, because that is all we could afford. Is there anything you can do?”

It was very obvious that the family had exhausted all avenues of caring for the twins, and without intervention, they would die. My heart hurt a little knowing I would have to remove the twins from their family, but I felt at peace with the situation. I got off the phone and called the director of a Babies Home that I have worked closely with.

This Babies Home is extremely unique, and the only one in Ghana (that I know of) operating as a short term, temporary home. The children in the home are all under 4 years old and most of their mothers have died in childbirth or shortly after. Each child has a specific exit plan, and most involve reunification with extended family once healthier and off of formula. The home is not a permanent or long-term solution for the children. They don’t believe in institutionalization of children, or keeping children who have family that want to love and care for them, but simply can’t due to poverty. I fully support their mission and vision, and they are the only Babies Home that I work with here in Ghana.

Because of our close relationship, the director of the Babies Home said that I could bring the twins to stay there until a better solution was found. I called Joseph back, and we arranged for his wife to bring the twins the following day.

Joseph’s wife brought the twins 10 hours south, on bus through rough terrain, and met me at the Babies Home. I had never seen the twins before, because I had only spoken to Joseph on the phone.  The minute I laid eyes on them, and my heart was captured. Their dark brown eyes cried out for help and love. Their frail bodies could barely move. They had no muscle tone on their bodies, no meat on their bones, and no food in their bellies. They were 10 months old, but weighed that of a newborn. And they weren’t just “underdeveloped” like Joseph had said, but both had special needs.

IMG_8542[Twins-February 2014]

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I got them settled in their crib and learned more details about their situation that absolutely shattered my heart. I could not fathom all that the twins had been through in their 10 short months of life. After hearing everything, I knew that it was best that they were at the Babies Home, but knew their long term plans were very hazy. Ultimately, God had closed so many doors, opened even more, and placed them in my life for His mighty plans.

The following day the twins were taken to the hospital and put on a high calorie diet to help fight their malnutrition, and seen by a physical therapist to begin to loosen up their non existent and very tight muscles. Even in just 24 hours, their faces had become less grey colored, and the twinkle in their eyes was glimmering small.  The doctor took one look at them and said they were dying, and if I hadn’t brought them in that day, they probably wouldn’t have lived much longer.

The Babies Home is six hours roundtrip from my house in Kumasi, so I began visiting the twins twice a week to monitor their health and overall well being. I worked closely with the Babies Home director to help get them the best care possible.

Friends and family began lifting the two babies up in prayer, as I was watching God heal their tiny bodies and hearts. Over the months, they began gaining weight, becoming more alert, and making huge strides in their development. I was watching miracle after miracle happen before my eyes, and was in awe that God chose me to be a vessel of His love for the two of them. They were the sweetest pair, and I had fallen hard for them.

IMG_8994[Boy twin growing big & strong- March 2014]
IMG_9259[Girl twin gaining weight & muscle- March 2014]

The long term home for them was still unknown. I hoped that they would be able to be resettled back with their family once healthier, and that an extended family member would care for them with my long-term assistance.

But everything changed with one email.

A volunteer at the Babies Home contacted me saying that boy twin had suddenly and unexpectedly passed away. I saw him a few days before this happened and he was happy and seemingly healthy. He was rushed to the hospital and declined. Just a few days after his 1st birthday. My heart was shattered, and I had no idea how to pick up the pieces. This child held a massive piece of my heart. I considered him a son, not by blood or by legal order, but a son nonetheless. My treasured boy. The world was missing a hole that only he could fill. But in the midst of pain, I rejoiced. For he was with our Heavenly Father, and was reunited with his mother. I could only imagine the singing and dancing that ensued when they saw each other. My precious boy went home, to his true home, the only place he belongs. So I thanked the Lord for the time we had together on Earth, and praised Him that we will all be together in Heaven one day. But that doesn’t mean my heart isn’t still missing a piece to this day.

IMG_9265[My boy had some heart piercing eyes]


[When I was at the Babies Home, he never wanted to be out of my arms]


[My treasured son, how I miss you to this day]

My mind began to fill with worry about girl twin. “What about her? She has lost her mother, and her twin brother. Her father will never be in the picture. Her family can’t care for her. She is living at a Babies Home with 30+ other children, and has a continuous rotation of caregivers. She has special needs that require constant attention. Where is best for her? God, please show me the plans for her. What should I do?” Those words were whispered for day in and day out as I tried to figure out what was best for Little One. I continued to visit her at the Babies Home twice a week, and watched her change from the dying, sickly tiny baby into a bigger, healthier, smiley child.

Since the minute I met her and her brother, I had been (secretly…or not so secretly) praying about foster care. I know my home here in Ghana is for special needs treasures, and of course I would have loved to welcome them both in if God made it clear that was what I was to do. But before then, I always felt the road to foster care was not one I should walk down.

I went to visit her at the Babies Home one day, and had an inkling that someone big was bound to happen. I sat down to talk with the director, and she said, “Rebecca, we are taking good care of Little One, but I have been praying, and I think she belongs with you in your home. She’s your daughter, and has been from the beginning.” And I was speechless. I was going to talk to the director that day about getting foster custody of Little One, and she brought it up first. ONLY GOD. And that’s the moment that I knew. I knew she was my daughter, and I was her momma.

I called Joseph that night and shared my heart for Little One, and my thoughts on fostering her. He said he would want her in no other home than mine. He gave me his family’s blessing to proceed with the process.

I don’t know whether Little One will be with me for a short time, or a long while. I have foster custody of her, and am praying about the next steps and for her future. She is my daughter. She is mine, and I am hers. With children, you don’t love halfway. There is no partial loving. It’s either all in, or all out. I love her fiercely, whether she will legally carry my last name one day or not.

So that is the story of my two warriors. Both who have come home. One to the Father, and the other to my home. My son and daughter. My two little loves. My treasures. This story is not over though, it has only just begun.

That’s what happens when you pray bold prayers, God just might answer them in a way you never expected, but always wanted.

After lots of paperwork, meetings, and phone calls…it is such an honor to introduce to you God’s greatest gift to me, my treasured daughter, my sunshine girl, my Ellie Grace.


IMG_8537[ ^^ February 2014]
IMG_8370[^^ Six months later…August 2014….God heals & restores.]

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Posted in Blog Update, Ellie Grace, Foster Care, Ghana, Living in Ghana, My Treasures | 1 Comment

Theresa part 2 [Faustina Business Grant]

Back in April I introduced to my first treasure, the inspiration for The Treasured Ones, my sweet Theresa. If you haven’t read her story, you can read it here.

After Theresa died, I broke down. She was the first child that I had known that had passed away. Everyday I live here I hear about children passing away, but Theresa was different. She wasn’t just a statistic of children that die under 5 here. She wasn’t just a child with hydrocephalus. She wasn’t just a name and a face. She was Theresa, a little baby who died way sooner than she should have, in part due to the governmental + hospital “systems”, that aren’t really systems at all, as much as they are disorganized, messy, and corrupt institutions. But she is dancing with Jesus now, full, free, and whole.

And I learned that beauty can come from ashes.

In the midst of Theresa’s death & grieving, I felt the push to reach out to Theresa’s mother, Faustina, to see how I could continue to help her. She has three more children who are living in northern Ghana with their grandmother. Faustina traveled down to Kumasi with Theresa to see if there were any better hospitals here, and they ended up staying for six months while Faustina tried to make money to pay for Theresa’s shunt surgery. There are more opportunities in a big city like Kumasi than there are in tiny villages in northern Ghana. Faustina didn’t bring her other three children because school is totally free in the north, whereas here she would have to pay for them to attend school.

After Theresa died, she told me that she wanted to stay in Kumasi and continue to work and send money to the north to feed her other three children. That’s when I had an idea. Instead of financially contributing to Faustina’s family, why don’t I help provide something where she can make all the money herself?

I asked Faustina if there was any trade, business, or food that she thought was needed in her community. She said yes, there were no people selling yams, and all the community members have to travel far to buy their yams. She wrote down all the costs involved with starting a yam business. We discussed business tactics, financial planning, money saving, and budgeting. She was on board for all of it, and explained how this business would be profitable.

Many of you generous blog readers & friends responded to the post I wrote, and wanted to help Faustina start her business. The money you provided was more than the amount that Faustina needed to fully open her yam selling venture.

Last week I met up with Faustina, went over her business plan one more time, and took her to the place where she would be depositing & saving her money. She was so excited when I handed her the booklet where she would write down all her purchases, deposits, and withdrawals. I saw a new sparkle in her eye that day, one that I hadn’t seen since her baby girl went to be with Jesus. She had pride. She had hope. She had a dream.

Faustina has been running her yam selling business for almost two weeks now and I have gotten nothing but amazing reports from her. The community members are very excited that they now can buy yams locally. Faustina is selling out of yams, and is actually turning a profit. She has already sent some of the money to the north to care for her three children. All she says is, “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for helping me care for myself and my children. I will never be able to thank you enough. I am so happy to be working again.”

That amount of pride would have never come from me just handing her money.
That amount of confidence would have never come from me giving her clothes and shoes for her children.
That amount of hope would have never come from a hand out.

Hand outs of money are bandaids over bullet holes. They are a quick fix. They are the easier road. But I knew I wanted more for Faustina than that. I wanted to help her help herself. It would have been so much easier to just give her money and be done with it. But that money would have run out. And she would be back in the same place she was. But now, a small amount of money that helped start her business, will provide her with a job, with a living, with money to send her children to school, with hope & a future. And that is why I believe in taking the harder road, of self-sustainability, of empowerment, of giving people all the skills, resources, and tools….and then watching them fly.


Posted in Blog Update, Ghana, Living in Ghana, My Treasures, The Treasured Ones | Leave a comment

Momma Portia & Baby Kwabena [Rehab Home]

July 8th, 2014 Portia, a 20 year old girl, gave birth to a baby boy named Kwabena at a local hospital here in Ghana. She started having intense contractions two weeks before she was due, so she went to the hospital to get checked out. They admitted her and saw she was dilated, but the baby wasn’t coming out. The doctor decided to do a C-section to safely deliver the baby. There were no complications with the surgery, and baby Kwabena was born into this world.

When Kwabena made his entrance, he was missing his left hand (most likely from amniotic band syndrome). It looked as if his hand was cut off just above his wrist. He also had one clubbed foot. Besides those two physical deformities. Immediately, Portia and her family wanted to reject Kwabena and leave him at the hospital for Social Welfare to take away. In Ghana, children with special needs are believed to be cursed, and are said to be a result of a wrongdoing by the mother and family. Many Ghanaians believe that special needs children are born into families just to cause them trouble, and for them to waste money on the child. Portia’s parents and grandparents wanted to get rid of Kwabena altogether, they wanted to send him into the forest and kill him so they could rid their family from the evil. They told Portia that if she decided to keep Kwabena, that they is no longer welcome in their house, and no longer part of their family.

Because Kwabena was born premature and very small (less than 4 pounds), he was put in an incubator. Portia was discharged from the hospital once she was healed from surgery. The nurses at the hospital heard of Portia and Kwabena and how she wanted to abandon him, and that she was cut off from her family. Light for Children, has a longstanding relationship with this hospital and is close friends with the nurses. Two weeks after Kwabena was born, the nurses brought Portia to our office to see if there was anything we could do. I was still in the US at the time, so they talked to another staff member. They immediately called me and explained what was going on, and I told them that Portia and Kwabena could move into my house once I returned to Ghana. There was no questions, no contemplation, no reservations. This is what the Rehab Home is for, to welcome any and all special needs treasures in. And I was giddy with excitement that I would be soon welcoming it’s first two members.

After his treatment finished, Kwabena was discharged from the hospital with a clean bill of health. I returned to Ghana August 4th and met with Portia’s parents and grandparents about the situation. They made it very clear that they could not, and would not, care for Portia and Kwabena, because of his special needs. The situation was heartbreaking, and an emergency, so the very next day, I went and picked Portia and Kwabena up, and they moved into my house.

They have been living at my house for over two weeks now and have settled in nicely. Portia is a great mom and tends to Kwabena’s every need. She is beginning to form a bond with him, and it’s my hope and prayer that she will see her son as a treasure and gift from God. It has not been all sunshines and smiles, as there have been some very difficult moments and days, but by God’s grace alone, we are taking things day by day.

Kwabena is now six weeks old and is healthy as can be. He is gaining weight quickly and is an active little boy. We will begin treating his clubbed foot, through a casting process, once he is a few months older, and he is able to be fitted with a prosthetic hand once he is older as well. Portia is in great health and is recovering from her C section.

I ask that you continue to pray for Portia & Kwabena in the following areas:

Physical Health- Healing for Portias wounds, healing for Kwabena’s leg and hand, and overall strong immune system and bodies.

Guidance & Provision- Portia will be getting her senior high school exam results in the next month, and then we will begin discussing her future education opportunities. She would like to go to nursing school, which I would love to have someone sponsor to pay for.

Protection- Both Portia & Kwabena entered my house very broken little souls. They hearts were in complete disarray as they had many traumatic experiences happen to them in the last month. I pray that God reveal Himself to them, and that they begin to learn to lean on Him always and that He is the Maker, Protector, and Healer of the universe.

Rest- Life with a newborn isn’t easy for any of us living in my house. Pray for restful nights and days!

Thank you friends, for your prayers, donations, and encouragement for P, K & I!
I am so excited that these two are finally home.
Safe, loved, and healing! Look out for more updates soon!

IMG_1428[Portia loves watching movies…a girl after my own heart!]
IMG_1450[Kwabena the day he arrived…so tiny!]
IMG_1497[Love his little toes blowing in the breeze]
IMG_1508[I have THE most fantastic house manager ever…Selina helps with every aspect of P & K]
IMG_1515[Thank you Moby Wrap. Without you, I would get nothing done while babysitting K]

Posted in Blog Update, Ghana, My Treasures, The Treasured Ones | 1 Comment

The Treasured Ones [Rehab Home]

So far I have shared about three of the four programs of The Treasured Ones:

Community Outreach

Medical Sponsorship

KCH Inclusive School

Today I am fully explaining our last & final program (for now)….the Rehab Home.

When I signed the lease on my house back in August 2013, I knew that I (obviously) was not the only one who would be living there. With four bedrooms, two bathrooms, huge living & dining room, and large enclosed compound, there was absolutely no way I would be living alone. I signed the lease on the house in faith that God would send whoever was supposed to live with me. Months before moving in January 2014, I prayed for my future house guests, whomever they may be.

For the first six months of living in Ghana, my house was filled with volunteers, some staying a short time, and others for a while. And to be honest, I never quite expected that. I always envisioned my house being filled with children and families, not international volunteers. But those are the people that God sent at the time. So I welcomed them with opened arms and served selflessly. Having to cook and clean for them meant I spent a lot more time than usual at home. But that time at home allowed me to fully settle in and make this house, a home. I organized, decorated, and arranged, and prayed that God would continue to bring whomever He wanted into my home. But secretly (or not so secretly), I constantly prayed about welcome children into my home.

When I met Theresa & her mother Faustina, it was very clear that they could not remain living where they had been. The physical conditions were not ideal, and they needed to be in a place where Theresa could recover after surgery in a safe, sterile, and comfortable environment. Unfortunately, Theresa went to dance with Jesus before we could get her shunt surgery, and before I could invite Theresa & Faustina into my home. But because of them, the dream of the Rehab Home was born.

The volunteers all slowly left my home as their trips ended, and no more were scheduled to come stay. I felt that God was pushing me to begin making plans for the Rehab Home, and to dream bigger than I ever have before. I decided that when I returned from my 1 month trip to America in July, that I would really begin exploring options of welcoming special needs treasures in.

And of course, God had other plans. Two weeks before arriving back in Ghana, I got a call about a 20 year old girl who had just given birth to a baby boy with physical deformities, and who desperately needed a place to stay after her parents cut her out of the family. And I said yes. Portia & Kwabena (story coming soon) moved in the day after I arrived back in Ghana. And my heart & home are now overflowing with love.

That is what the Rehab Home is all about, being a place of refuge, security, and love for any and all special needs treasures. There is no specific mission statement other than this: to be a place of God’s love & hope. To be a safe haven. To be a place where all are welcome. My doors & heart are open to everyone God brings.

Starting now, I will be inviting all Medical Sponsorship children & their caregiver into my home before, during, and after surgery. This way, they don’t have to worry about anything but caring for their child. They don’t have to be cooking and cleaning all day. Those things will be taken care of, and they can solely focus on their child. While they are here, I would have bible studies, health/nutrition classes, parenting workshops, health/nutrition seminars, and business & financial classes. I want to pour all that I can into both the child and caregiver, and to know that when they leave, they are equipped with all the skills and resources to care for their child, medically, spiritually, financially.

After the business class, the caregiver can create a business plan, and apply for a grant from me to begin a small business such as tailoring shop, selling second hand clothing, vending food, etc. I whole heartily believe in investments, and not hand outs. Equipping the caregivers with a trade and supplying the products to begin the trade, is much more long lasting than handing out money. This allows the caregiver to feel empowered that they CAN provide for their special needs child. That they never have to even consider giving their child up to an orphanage or abandoning them because the financial strain is too much. This equips & empowers them, and their child.

My home will also be open as a foster home, for any special needs children who need it. Because I soon will have foster custody of Little One, the government can approach me to ask if I can take more children in. I am fully trusting God that if He wants to grow my family through foster care, that He will make that clear, and provide endlessly.

The Rehab Home takes place in my own home, so the people that are admitted, become family to me. We eat together, cry together, and dream together. We speak truth, love, and light. All of their worries, fear, and stresses are brought into my home, and through God and God alone, they hopefully are discharged from my home with light burdens and a trust in the Lord.

I have a fantastic house manager named Selina, who also is a teacher at KCH Inclusive Primary School. I could not run the house alone, and she is the perfect person to be my right hand woman in this journey. She is the greatest blessing, and an answer to so many prayers. She helps prepare all meals, clean, budgets, and is who the children and families go to if there are any problems.

The Rehab Home is nowhere near capacity, and I pray that in the coming months and years, more special needs treasures make this their home, short term, long term, and forever. My daily prayer is that this house becomes a place where healing, encouragement, and transformation take place.

I am so excited to see where the Rehab Home goes. God takes our “yes” and expands it into something we could have never wished or dreamed of. I am continually saying “yes”, and letting Him do all the work to turn these walls into a space of His love.



[Baby Kwabena]


[Momma Portia & Baby Kwabena]


[One of the bedrooms]


[One of the bedrooms]


[Little One, who is, Lord willing, coming home soon]

Posted in Blog Update, Ghana, Living in Ghana, My Treasures, The Treasured Ones | Leave a comment

The Treasured Ones [KCH Inclusive Primary School]

WeSo far I have shared about 2 of the 4 Treasured Ones programs (Community Outreach & Medical Sponsorship) and today I’m sharing about KCH Inclusive Primary School! (The 4th program is the Rehabilitation Home which I will be sharing about next week).

If you’ve read the story of Theresa, the little fighter with hydrocephalus who went to be with Jesus, then you have read about Kelly, a 16 year old American girl from California who has been to Ghana many times to work at an orphanage/school, with the deaf community, and with children with special needs. When Kelly arrived in Ghana in February 2014 she told me about how the fundraised for a bus for special needs school. I had only just began to learn about special needs children in Ghana, and knew that there weren’t very many schools for children with physical and mental disabilities. She continued to tell me about how the Ghanaian headmistress (principal) of the school wanted to bring more special needs children to the school, how she goes into the villages to educate parents on special needs, and how she cares for all the children at her school like they are her own. It sounded way too good to be true. A Ghanaian passionate about educating children with special needs in a country that views these children as cursed? I was definitely very skeptical…but I was so intrigued and wanted to meet this headmistress.

Kelly introduced me to the headmistress named Shirley the following week. Shirley and I sat down for six hours and each poured our hearts out for special needs children in Ghana. We talked about cultural stigmas, religious views, and educational opportunities for these precious children. At the end of that meeting turned heart-to-heart, I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that Shirley and I were sisters that just happened to be born on opposite sides of the world. And that we would be working together in educating special needs children in Ghana for a very long time. That day I took on a whole lot more responsibility and The Treasured Ones added another program, to help open & run the first and only inclusive special needs school in Ghana.


In January 2009, the government of Ghana built a school on the premises of Kumasi Children’s Home, a government run orphanage, to allow the children living at the orphanage to go to school on the same compound, so they did not have to go to school outside and face abuse, maltreatment, and harsh stigma. They also welcomed any children in the community to attend the school completely free of charge. Kumasi Children’s Home Primary School opened in 2009 with 20 students and 3 teachers. Shirley, a young Ghanaian who recently graduated from teachers training college, was assigned to be the headmistress of the school.

Three years later in 2012, Shirley’s heart became burdened when she found out that there were special needs children living at the adjacent orphanage who were not going to school. She held a meeting with her teachers, and they decided to take it upon themselves to attend more trainings to become certified to teach special needs children. That year after the training, they welcomed all the special needs children from the orphanage into school for the first time. They began unofficially doing inclusive education, where they would have mainstream (non special needs) and special needs students in the same classroom.

Since opening in 2009, KCH Primary School was exploding, and more children from surrounding communities were enrolling. The 2013 school year opened with 203 students, 15 special needs children from the orphanage, 2 special needs children from the community, 9 teachers, and Shirley as headmistress.

Caleb_Photographs-108[above & below: Two of the inclusive classrooms]

After a visit from the Ghanaian government’s education director in 2013, it was decided that the school was becoming overcrowded and needed more classrooms. The government paid to build a new school block with 10 classrooms just behind the existing school. Shirley would move all the primary classes to the new school block, which would leave her with four empty classrooms in the old block. And she knew exactly what she wanted to do with those empty classrooms…bring more special needs children into the school (I told you she was amazing!).

Caleb_Photographs-134[old school block which will be turned into a resource center for the special needs kids]
Caleb_Photographs-141[new school block with 10 classrooms]

Kelly (16 year old American) was volunteering in Ghana at the time, and Shirley shared her vision for expanding the special needs section of the school even more with constructing the resource center. Shirley told Kelly that the biggest barrier in bringing in more special needs children was transportation. Because many parents in Ghana view their special needs children as cursed and not human, they also don’t believe that they deserve to be educated, which means they would not want to take the time and energy to dress the kids for school, and transport them there. Shirley told Kelly that the thing the school needed most was a school bus, so they would be able to go into the communities and pick up the special needs children and transport them to school each day. So Kelly went back to the US and fundraised almost $10,000 in one year for a school bus (I told you she was amazing too!) and when she introduced me to Shirley in February 2014 she was back in Ghana to purchase the bus.

IMG_0467[School bus before the new paint job]

And really, things have only exploded from there. Shirley and I got right to work dreaming bigger than ever before. In April 2014 Shirley met with the education sector of the government to see if they would allow us to bring in more special needs children. A week later KCH Primary School officially became KCH Inclusive Primary School. We got governmental approval to expand to an official special needs inclusive school within one week (people…this doesn’t happen that quickly….ever). This approval allow us to get three special needs teachers and three classroom assistants starting in September (…ummm…that never happens this easily ever….). The new school year begins in September, and we will officially be opening as the first and only inclusive special needs school in Ghana.

Because we want to keep the teacher to student ratio as small as possible, our max capacity will be 30 special needs children. 15 special needs children from the adjacent orphanage will be starting to attend in September, which leaves 15 spots open for special needs children from the surrounding communities to attend. But parents of special needs children will not willingly enroll them in school, and the kids are often kept in their houses all day. So how were we going to get the 15 community special needs children enrolled?

We searched for them…and we found them.
Shirley and I, along with the occasional volunteer, went into the villages along our planned bus route and found the children. We went house to house asking anyone and everyone if they knew of special needs children in the area. We walked for hours upon hours going from person to person. Many people were reluctant to lead us to the children for fear of stigma and rumors being spread. I will explain in another blog post about how we actually found the children…but we did eventually find them. And many of those are now enrolled in our school, and will be starting in September.

IMG_0272[Phillip & Precious two of our special needs children who will begin in September!]

All of the 30 special needs children will be sponsored to receive uniforms, books, hot lunch, and transportation on our bus. Their parents will have to pay nothing for them to attend school, but they will be required to come to monthly parent teacher meetings, bi monthly physical therapy appointments, and school wide gatherings. We hope that through them being forced to be involved in their child’s education and see that the teachers and staff pour nothing but love into their children, that they begin to view their children as treasured, worthy, and blessings to them and society.

What will day to day school look like for our special needs children?
KCH Inclusive Primary School will be the first & only inclusive special needs school in all of Ghana. Inclusive education is where children with special needs, and children without special needs are educated in the same classroom. We believe that when we educate the children in the same classroom, positive social and academic outcomes occur. We believe that when the children learn with and from each other, they develop a higher level of understanding and encouragement. We know that pursuing inclusive education will take a lot more planning, commitment, and work, but we running steadfast towards a vision of  special needs children in Ghana being included and valued in all aspects of society.

During classes such as art, music, PE, civic engagement, and religion, the special needs and mainstream (non special need) children will learn the same material and do the same activities. During classes such as math, reading, and science, special needs and mainstream students will be in the same classroom, but being taught and working on activities separately. We understand that each special needs child learns differently, and after assessments, we can begin to determine how each child learns best, and then adjusting lessons accordingly.

School runs from 8am to 1pm, Monday thru Friday. We begin the day with school assembly and prayer, sing a few songs, and then each class walks to their designated room to begin the day. There are 3 lessons in the morning, then a break for lunch and play, and then 3 lessons in the afternoon. The afternoons are when the special needs kids will break away for physical therapy, art/games, and vocational training. Fridays are more relaxed and we often have school-wide soccer games, dance parties, and games.

Caleb_Photographs-78[above & below: two of our inclusive classrooms]

What needs to be accomplished before we welcome the special needs children in September 2014?
From now until September Shirley and I are busy doing home visits to all the special needs children living in the surrounding communities to get final parental approval to enroll their child to our school, as well as to measure them for their first ever school uniform! We are finalizing the bus route and making sure the parents know where and what time the bus will pick their child up. The kids are super excited to take the bus!

We are moving all the classrooms from the old school block into the new school block (see photos above). The old school block classrooms are becoming:
1. Computer Lab: This will  allow us to do audio/visual training with the kids. They love computer games, learning how to type, and creating computer art. The lab will allow them to be stimulated in different ways, and hopefully become more interested in school. Many of our kids are non verbal, so with the help of programs designed for special needs kids, they can click on different pictures and words to communicate with us their wants and needs.
Current need: We are looking for used laptops (Mac or PC) to be donated to our computer lab. Please email me at kuntzr@gmail.com if you have any that you would like to donate.

2. Physical Therapy & Multi Sensory Room: We will be hiring a Ghanaian physical therapist to come do PT with our 30 special needs kids 3 times a week. None of our children have ever had PT before, and we know that with this extra help, they will SOAR. We have high confidence that many of them will begin walking, running, and jumping for joy with the help from our PT. The space will also double as a multi sensory room which will create a stimulating, yet calming atmosphere for our kids. We will have different tables of activities, toys, and games where the kids can come to relax and calm down. Coming to school for the first time can be overstimulating, so we want to create a space where the kids can go and unwind.
Current need: We need $1,000 USD to renovate this room and turn it from a dumpy classroom into the PT and sensory room of our dreams! We need to paint, install new windows, purchase tables and chairs, and built storage units. (See donation button & instructions below)

Old classroom 1[Old classroom that will become the PT/Sensory room]

3. Art & Vocational Training Room: This will be our third main room of the special needs resource center. We will have art lessons and free art many times a week. We have some pretty talented artists on our hands and we can’t wait to see what they create! All schools in Ghana are required to teach a creative arts class, but schools rarely have art supplies to actually do the lessons. Thanks to generous donations, we will have a fully stocked art cabinet with all the supplies our kids could dream of! This space will also double as a vocational training room for our older special needs students. They will be learning beadwork, jewelry making, and sewing to help them gain skills that they can use to gain employment. We also will be launching an online shop with all the items they produce!
Current need: We need $1,000 USD to renovate this room and turn it from dreary classroom into a colorful art & training room! We need to paint, install new windows, purchase tables and chairs, and built storage units. (See donation button & instructions below)

Old classroom 2

[Old classroom that will become the Art/Vocational Training room]

I can’t believe all the incredible things that God has orchestrated to allow Shirley & I to become connected, and for us together to pursue the huge dream of opening the first & only inclusive school in Ghana. There have been many valleys and mountain tops of the past months pursuing government approval, finding the special needs kids, developing goals and objectives, and putting together every details of the school. There have been many sleepless nights and some very long days, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I will do anything and everything to provide the best education and environment for our 200+ mainstream students, and 30 special needs students. I never thought I would be working alongside an incredible Ghanaian team to educate, serve, and empower so many special needs treasures. God is incredible, that’s all I can say.


[Shirley & I. Opening & running an inclusive school in Ghana…we both are also under 30. Dreaming BIG!]


[Akos, one of our special needs students who learned to write her number 1 to 40!]


[Annan, one of my favorite kiddos…soon he will be walking!]

If you would like to support KCH Inclusive Primary School, you may donate through Paypal below, or send a check made out to “Rebecca Kuntz” to:
Rebecca Kuntz
5332 Fair Elms Ave
Western Springs, IL 60558

Posted in Blog Update, Ghana, Living in Ghana, My Treasures, The Treasured Ones | Leave a comment

The Treasured Ones [Medical Sponsorship]

Last week I shared about mission and vision for The Treasured Ones Community Outreach and today I am sharing about Medical Sponsorship!

Medical Sponsorship was the program that birthed The Treasured Ones and confirmed the desires God was laying on my heart to care for His special needs treasures in Ghana. I was technically running the Medical Sponsorship program before The Treasured Ones was ever established.

This program all started with a baby girl named Theresa who showed me that God has the mightiest of plans for His children, even when that means calling them Home much sooner than us on Earth would have wanted. You can read Theresa’s story here about how we were brought together, how we fought for Theresa, how she was called to dance with Jesus just one day before her surgery, and how God was working in every single detail. I haven’t read the blog post I wrote about her since the day I wrote it, as the wounds are still fresh and my heart is still tender. I still praise God in the midst of pain, because Theresa began my prayers for special needs children in Ghana.

IMG_9484[Theresa's Mother & Grandmother]

After Theresa’s death, four more children with hydrocephalus were brought into my life, and I knew it was God & Theresa working together up there in Heaven to say,
“Help these children. These are my treasures with hydrocephalus that need you to advocate and fight for them. Do whatever it takes to get them immediate medical care. These children are Theresa’s friends. These children are my gifts to you.”

DSCN2457[Ronald before surgery]

And through incredible provision and prayer the first four children were admitted to Medical Sponsorship. Bright, Ronald, Yaa Atta (story coming soon), and Daniel (story coming soon) received life saving shunt surgery…all within a one month time period. And three of them received the world’s most advanced Medtronic shunts. If that isn’t God moving mountains, then I don’t know what is.

I have also been working with three more children who have orthopedic needs and are all in the midst of treatments. I will be sharing their stories soon!

All of the current Medical Sponsorship children entered my life through friends, hospital staff, partner non profits, and some being brought to my feet. Programs and assistance for special needs children in Ghana is very scarce, so word travels quickly, and I gets many phone calls per week about more children needing medical attention.

IMG_0644[Yaa Atta before surgery]

When I receive a phone call or message about a child in need, I find out all information I can about the child, family circumstances, diagnosis and medical procedures. If the child is close by, I do a home visit to assess the situation even further. I keep detailed chart notes and write down every piece of information given by the mother or caregiver. I pray about the child and whether I should accept them into Medical Sponsorship. I have limited (but growing) medical knowledge and often don’t know exactly what surgery, treatment, or therapy is needed, whether its available in Ghana, or how much all of it will cost. I pray about acceptance before I know about cost or options, because I never want the cost involved to deter me from pursuing the needed medical treatment. I know that where God guides, He provides. If He has led me to accept a child into Medical Sponsorship who has a $10,000 surgery, I know without a doubt that He will provide every penny needed. I haven’t yet turned away a child.

Once I know God has confirmed whether I should accept the child or not, I take the child and caregiver to the hospital to see the doctors and specialists. From there we determine costs, set up a care plan, and make sure the caregiver knows the details of their child’s medical condition and approves of the plan. After that, we begin to walk the journey of surgery, treatment, therapy, and then recovery.

IMG_0442[Daniel before surgery]

It has been a crazy roller coaster with the Medical Sponsorship program so far. Running this program involves hours of phone conversations, more hours of creating care plans, and even more hours spent in hospitals waiting to see doctors, waiting for surgeries to begin, waiting for surgeries to end, waiting for nurses to administer medications, and waiting for receipts and bills. This program takes a lot of fighting. I never expected I would have to fight so hard for children to receive needed medical care.

Doctors don’t want to examine children with special needs for fear of their “curse” rubbing off or being transferred to them.
Nurses don’t want to put in IVs for fear of their “wicked blood”.
Surgeons don’t want to perform operations because they say special needs children will “amount to nothing for society so, what’s the point?”.
Hospital administration tries to charge ridiculous amounts of money when the children are admitted because they say the kids are an “added hassle and require more of the nurse’s attention”.
All of it is LIES.

So I must advocate for, fight with, and stand up for my treasures and their caregivers. I do anything and everything for them to receive the best medical care. And through God and God only, four children have received life saving surgery, and three more are in the midst of therapies.

Medical Sponsorship provides special needs children with live saving and life enhancing surgeries, treatments, and therapies.

The biggest need for Medical Sponsorship is a social worker. Up until now, I have been doing all the initial assessments of the children, going to every doctors visit, staying at the hospital before, during, and after surgery, arranging all meals, transportation, and medication for the children, and doing all follow up. It is mentally and physically exhausting to be running around from 5am to 9pm every day for the various needs of each child. Thankfully, I have had Ghanaian friends help me with translating from English to Twi to talk to the caregivers, nurses, and hospital staff.

A social worker would be able to help me assess new cases, manage existing cases, create care plans for each child and life plans for each family, go to doctors appointments and arrange surgeries, advocate in the local language for needed medical care, help run Community Outreach, manage everyone in the Rehabilitation Home, and be my right hand person in running The Treasured Ones in Ghana. I am so excited to hire my first staff member and am praying for the perfect person to be placed in my path.

The salary for a social worker is $250 USD per month. I would love to have their salary paid for an entire year, which would be $3,000 USD total.

So far $0 out of $3,000 USD has been donated towards the social worker’s salary.

You may donate through Paypal below, or send a check made out to “Rebecca Kuntz” to:
Rebecca Kuntz
5332 Fair Elms Ave
Western Springs, IL 60558

Posted in Blog Update, Ghana, Living in Ghana, The Treasured Ones | Leave a comment

The Treasured Ones [Community Outreach]

Over the coming weeks I will be explaining more in depth about the four main programs of The Treasured Ones, as well as the fundraising needs for each one.  The past six months in Ghana have been a whirlwind adventure of God showing me my new purpose of serving children and families affected by disability, and now I am finally able to explain the back stories of The Treasured Ones and how it all began, along with the specific visions and purposes of each program. I will explain each program separately, but you will begin to see how they are all connected into one God given vision of helping children with special needs, alongside their families, in their physical, mental, and spiritual growth. Today I will be starting off with Community Outreach.

It all started with a little boy named Domfa who showed me that he is more than a diagnosis and more than the stigma placed upon him. Many of you have read his story, and how we were brought back together again in the most unexpected way. When I was reunited with him a few months ago, The Treasured Ones was not established yet, but I began working with his community, educating them on what down syndrome is, what challenges Domfa might face, and how they can work with him in the best possible way. I talked with his kindergarten teacher at school, his mother and father at home, as well as the elders of the village, so everyone was on the same page.

In Ghana, children with special needs are very often shunned from their communities, abandoned by their parents, and seen as cursed. They are many times not even seen as human beings, but a super natural spirit sent from a “God of the sea” to cause trouble on Earth.

Before working with Domfa and his community, I asked them how their viewed him. They responded with, “Domfa? He is just a normal boy. He is so funny and makes us laugh when he runs around.” I was in shock, and so so thankful at the same time. Domfa lives in a very rural and small village, which is often where the drama, rumors, and stigmatization is the worst. His family and community view him as a blessing, and a viable member of the village. He is a very happy and thriving boy who will most likely just need some extra time, assistance, and encouragement through his school years.

DSCN2267The second example is Bright’s case, which is very different. The village where he and his mother were living did not view him in the same way that Domfa’s does. I explained a little bit here about how they were forced to leave the village. When Bright’s hydrocephalus began to worsen, and his head began to grow, people in the village started gossiping and saying that he was a cursed child. They told Bright’s mother that she had done something wrong in her life to give birth to such a wicked child, and that she must abandon Bright to rid herself and the village from the curse. Bright’s mother couldn’t explain why her son’s head was getting bigger, so the community members told her that it was the “God of the sea” filling his body with evil spirits. Because of the pressure, Bright’s mother ran from the village and sought refuge with her sister.


The Treasured One’s Community Outreach program intends to engage families and communities like Domfa’s and Bright’s.

Community Outreach aims to equip and empower families who have children with special needs with the skills, resources, and training to care for their treasures, along with engaging and educating the community in Gospel focused dialogue on disability.

In Domfa’s case, Community Outreach would help strength the already existing positive sentiment about his disability. This would involve discussing medical information with his family, working with his teachers to assess his learning styles and skills, and having a community forum to address questions and concerns surrounding disability, while incorporating the gospel to show that Domfa, and all children with special needs, are indeed God’s treasured children.

In Bright’s case, Community Outreach would help begin to change the negative sentiment surrounding Bright’s disability. This would be a much more uphill battle, and quite the task, but extremely important. It would involve educating Bright’s mother and close family about his medical condition and the shut surgery he just had, equipping them with the information and skills needed to explain to people about his condition, then begin to tackle the community’s view on disability. Their opinions will not change overnight, but through lots of discussion, question answering, and most importantly, prayer, God willing they will begin to not view Bright, or other children with special needs, as cursed.

Community Outreach is involved with ALL of The Treasured Ones programs. Whether it be the school, medical sponsorship, or the rehab home, every single one of them will involve going into the communities to educate and equip. It might be our most difficult and challenging program as we are up against all form of oppression, stigma, and strong beliefs that children with special needs as burdens and curses, not blessings and treasures.

Community Outreach aims to equip and empower families who have children with special needs with the skills, resources, and training to care for their treasures, along with engaging and educating the community in Gospel focused dialogue on disability.

The biggest need for Community Outreach is a vehicle. This vehicle will allow myself and the staff to travel to the communities, bring supplies and education materials, and transport children and families to hospitals. The vehicle will be used for all of The Treasured Ones programs, and is currently one of our biggest needs.

I have identified a used, four wheel drive, rugged, well made car that is for sale. The owner is willing to hold the car for me until I have raised enough money, but I do have to act quickly.


[Similar to the car that I want to buy.]

August Update: Because of generous donations, the car has been paid for and bought! Praise God for this glorious blessing to The Treasured Ones!

Posted in Blog Update, Ghana, Living in Ghana, My Treasures, The Treasured Ones | Leave a comment

Help me bring Little One home?

THANK YOU all so much for the incredible outpouring of love regarding my last post about pursuing foster custody of a baby girl in Ghana. I loved reading every single one of your well wishes and prayers. It means so much to me knowing that friends, family, and people I’ve never met are lifting Little One and I up to our Heavenly Father.

I will be returning to Ghana August 3rd, and (God willing) Little One will be transferred to my care within a month or two. The timing all depends on paperwork, government visits and approvals, and scheduling. Right when I get back to Ghana, I will need to be fully prepared for her to come home at any time.

Most good quality baby necessities, including diapers and formula, are very expensive in Ghana. Since I am coming from the US, I would love to bring over as much as I can. I have created an Amazon Wishlist of items that I want to bring back to Ghana with me. This includes diapers, formula, wipes, toys, bottles, and other baby essentials. When you add the item to your cart, it will give you the option to ship it to the address provided by the wishlist owner. This will ship the items directly to my parent’s house in Chicago. If the address does not appear, please ship the items to:
Rebecca Kuntz
5332 Fair Elms Ave
Western Springs, IL 60558

If you have any other baby items (can be second hand too!) that you would like to donate, please email me at kuntzr@gmail.com.

Will you help me bring my Little One home?

Screen Shot 2014-07-16 at 12.15.26 AM

Posted in Blog Update, Foster Care, Ghana, Living in Ghana, My Treasures | Leave a comment