Stories Of Our Advocates
& The Lives They're Changing:
The First Fifth Institute is now called the Global Advocates. As a program of Mama Hope, all of the information from this site is now being integrated into Mama Hope’s website. All of the FAQ’s and stories on this site are still relevant. For the most up to date information regarding the dates of service and current Advocates please visit: http://www.mamahope.
If you ask Lauren where she’s from, she will tell you she is mostly from Michigan but you need your hands and toes to count the number of places she has lived. She currently resides on the East Coast while she earns a Masters in Sustainable Development from SIT Graduate Institute, but the way she sees it, her home is in Ghana.
For most of her life, Lauren had no intention of visiting Africa, but she has found herself continually drawn back to the continent following a three week trip she took to Kenya while in college. Lauren reminisced, “I went as a tourist and I was looking from the outside in, getting just a snapshot of the exterior without any in-depth human interaction. The majority of my trip was spent with other tourists and at the time I couldn’t tell you any of the names of the few Kenyans we had met. I did a lot of touristy things but after a while I had an ‘aha’ moment that I was in Africa and I didn’t do anything substantial. After that, I made up my mind to go back—to contribute to something.”
After her first trip, Lauren returned to Africa, working in Ghana as Mama Hope’s very first Global Advocate. The Global Advocate program enabled her to understand the problems facing the communities she worked with and prepared her to work with local communities to tackle them. “As a global advocate I was able to see the realities of Ghana from the inside-out. I was able to invest in other people and learn from them. Nothing I’ve done for the community has matched up to what they’ve done for me. My fondest memory has to be the construction of the United Hearts Children Center (UHCC). Watching a project that started as rubble take shape – from laying a foundation to building walls and finally to becoming a home for these kids – definitely brought tears to my eyes. It really does take a village, and in this case a global village, to gather up the funds and materialize a project like this from the ground up.”
Lauren has returned to Africa five times since her first trip and she has helped raise more than $80,000 to fund local community projects. At the UHCC, where she currently serves as the Volunteer Coordinator and Project Coordinator she has raised funds for the building of the Children’s Center, Sustainable Fish Ponds, and an upcoming Computer Literacy Program. She is both an inspiration and model for the First Fifth, demonstrating what it means to truly be a Global Advocate. “Living in Bawjiase has allowed me to form some of the deepest friendships of my life, and learn from the most inspiring and motivated people.”
Now, Global Advocate Juliette Pont has taken the torch and is dashing forward on her goal to provide electricity to the UHCC. Already, she has surpassed her $20,000 goal and in January she left to see this dream come true.