Labour of Love - NGO/LLC & 501(c)(3) organization promoting education and healthy GREEN living for rural communities across the globe!
Labour of Love (LoL)
I am Akua Dentaa Obema Gyimah Chin, third child of four children of Wilson Kofi and Paulina (Sisi Dokua) Gyimah; grandaughter of Opanyin Asare (Chief and Elder) and Maame Dentaa; Opanyin Kwadwo Amankwa (Chief and Elder) and Emma Apeatua (Maame Fodwo), all elders in the small Eastern Region village of Tumfah - Ghana, West Africa. I have a newly established Organics business (GC Organics) that will provide organic products and services for health and wellness and develop partnerships with local not-for-profits to create community organic gardens; I am a Fitness Professional certified by the American Council on Exercise in Personal Training and Group Fitness; part of a unique class of professionals devoted to positively changing the lives of others.
The death of my father, Wilson Kofi Gyimah, on the morning of September 11, 2001 in New York City challenged my faith and shook my spirit. It was overwhelming to experience the horror of the attacks at the World Trade Center in New York City (and the Pentagon in Washington, DC) while my dad was suffering a heart attack at home in Brooklyn, New York shortly after the announcement when all emergency services were dispatched to the crash/bombing site and none to our home. I had to dig deep within my core to re-align my perspective and search for a way to heal the sadness and pain associated with these traumatic events that occurred simultaneously. Losing a loved one during such a national tragedy forced me to get on a path for which I must remain steadfast as it has opened my heart, mind and soul in ways that have been unexpected.
Each anniversary has been emotionally challenging and has prompted me to search deeper within for ways to best remember my dad. By the Grace of the Great I Am that I Am, in 2002 I was able to visit my dad's place of birth for the first time since leaving Ghana as a small child. I learned that my parents, most of my family and village children attended school at one of the only local Primary schools in the village. I was excited to visit the school, especially since I learned that prior to becoming Vice Consul at New York City for the Ghanaian Government (and ensuring the family stay together with him during his numerous international travels), my dad was a teacher at the school in his twenties and was fondly called "Teacher Kofi" as he emphasized the importance of continuous education; specifically, enhancing learning through the arts, music and sciences.
My heart sank into my chest when I first came upon the school buildings; I became overwhelmed with emotion -- saddened by the conditions but at the same time touched and inspired by the energy of the children. I was amazed that students were able to learn anything at all in these buildings that were not conducive to learning; but at that moment, I realized that I could find a way to help the school children while at the same time connecting to the memory of my dad. Upon returning to the States and consulting with family, we began a small scale (grassroots) fundraising campaign that has become the Labour of Love foundation, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit/tax exempt organization. The Labour of Love logo represents the spirit of the project; it is from the Ghanaian Adinkra symbols for Sankofa (the bird and the Sankofa sign above the bird's head to resemble a crown - trademark pending). The meaning of the symbol is that we should look back on the work of our ancestors and gather the best of what our past has to teach us, so that we achieve our full potential as we move forward.
Initial fundraising efforts included healthy snack sales, silent art auctions with African artwork, mostly donated from fellow Ghanaian Nana Edward Entende. We were also able to get donated space with the help of a Curator at a Washington, DC museum as well as local popular lounge in Brooklyn, New York, which helped establish a small account to help renovate one of the school buildings. It has taken several years to realize that my passion for health and fitness could be another source for bringing awareness to help enhance the education of the students in Tumfah through music and art and at the same time positively influencing the challenges of obesity, health, fitness and wellness here in the States. As the needs of the children in Tumfah continue to grow, I have been reaching out to my fellow fitness brothers and sisters to help with Labour of Love; to open their hearts and fitness facilities by hosting fitness events to raise funds for the children of Tumfah. I am humbled by the love, support and encouragement that I have been receiving and I look forward to annual Labour of Love Road Tours. I invite everyone to support this very important cause to help educate children and "Join the Love Train" dance fitness events near you!
Check us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/LOLjoinTheLoveTrain and Twitter @LOLLabourofLove.