Giving back to the community is one of the most important parts of building and strengthening the connection between Ghana and our diaspora communities. This is why Beyond the Return’s pillar, ‘Give Back Ghana’ is essential in supporting people in various ways across the country. Last year, during the ‘Year of Return’ it was one of the key items the diaspora was interested in. Finding ways to give to Ghana through acts of service, donations or creating programs.
Maurice Cheetham is the Founder and Executive Director of Art Cares Foundation, a non-profit working towards supporting and uplifting the self esteem of youth in Ghana. Baby Like Me, is the initiative he launched for the purpose of disctirbuting Black dolls to little girls in Ghana. Over the last few months they have given away hundreds of dolls in various communities throughout Greater Accra.
On December 5, 2020, they held another event in Mamprobi at St Francis of Assisi Anglican Church. The dolls were given away as a Greene Family Initiative sponsored by Durham Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Delta Delta & Alpha Lambda Chapters of DST, Lane College Alumni Deltas, Beta Phi Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., Paradise Dental and Back to Health Chiropractic.
Cheetham often recounts the story of seeing a young girl in his area who was carrying a doll that was not a reflection of herself. Cheetham says that although it was a nice doll, he felt it was important for little girls in Ghana to see themselves in the dolls they are playing with. After putting the story out on Facebook he was overwhelmed with the amount of support he received from the community both in Ghana and especially in the diaspora. Since then, he’s been giving out dolls to girls with the help of others, through donations, who equally believe in the cause.
Annabelle McKenzie, Manager of the Beyond the Return Secretariat, participated in the event and even gave some words of encouragement to the girls before the dolls were handed out. “I want you little ladies to always know that you are beautiful, no matter what your skin colour is, no matter what your hair looks like, every version of you is beautiful.” she told the girls. Some of the children came with their parents, who were excited that these gifts were being distributed to their children.
Art Cares Foundation plans to continue distributing dolls to girls and holding self esteem workshops. “We need to do everything we can to uplift our young ladies to empower them for the rest of their lives,” said Cheetham. He says the biggest response has come from the diaspora who are sending dolls and money. He said it’s been such a great response that he has even turned away some donations because it’s so overwhelming. He’s happy that so many people are interested in helping the cause and he looks forward to continuing to give back to Ghana by empowering young people.
By: Ivy Prosper