Why We Started The Akumanyi Foundation
The Akumanyi Foundation (TAF) began in 2014 and gained official non-profit status, as a 501c3, in 2015. TAF developed from Francis Akumanyi and Hannah Bonacci’s shared passion for youth and women’s empowerment. Francis and Hannah began working together in Ghana’s non-profit sector in 2011, and it was through their individual and shared experiences working in children’s homes, schools, and clinics that they observed gaps in the current service model for volunteering abroad. Annually, thousands of individuals were volunteering abroad but there was little long-term impact being made in the lives, or communities, being served by such trips. Organizations appeared to focus on the experience of volunteers, with a lack of understanding of the needs and desires of their Ghanaian partners. The absence of reciprocity in such exchanges frustrated Hannah and Francis, and they used this opportunity to reflect on and critically assess their involvement in perpetuating systems of dependency with their service work in Ghana. Ultimately, Hannah and Francis wanted to start an organization which would challenge this system of dependency and help secure economic sustainability for their partners.
After three years of working alongside each other in Ghana, Hannah and Francis envisioned an organization which would empower youth and women through a process grounded in establishing and cultivating long-term relationships, sustainability, cultural humility, and local ownership. To carry out these values, TAF tailors each project to the unique needs and goals of our partners. TAF is not a “one size fits all” organization because we believe that sustainable change comes from solutions that are specific to the needs of each individual partner. Therefore, we get involved in a variety of projects, as long as they reflect TAF’s mission of improving the quality of life of youth and women through creative empowerment initiatives.
Francis and Hannah wanted to incorporate a service-learning component to their organization which would offer culturally immersive experiences and promote reciprocal exchanges between volunteers and local partners. They envisioned this service model would contribute to breaking down the “us” vs “them” perspective and build responsible global citizenship among volunteers. TAF’s volunteers understand they are traveling to Ghana to gain a more holistic understanding of Ghanaian culture, build relationships to foster global citizenship, and further TAF’s mission.