Commitment to Giving
There is a destiny that makes us one family. No one goes their way alone. Whatever you put into the life of others, comes back into your very own.”
COMING TO AMERICA:
It was 9:30 p.m., August of 1974; I had just boarded a flight in Accra, Ghana, destined for an unknown future in the United States. Having just graduated from high school, I was riding an emotional roller coaster leaving my homeland, a place I was familiar and comfortable with—to begin my college experience. I was a teenager, on my own, with only the support, love and faith of family to guide my way.
What happened next would change my life. When I arrived in New York, I had expected to be met by an Uncle who would help in my journey to the State University of New York – Brockport. But no one was waiting. Hours passed. At curbside, I waited and grew more anxious. ‘Where was he?” “Did he not receive the telex I had sent the day before?" "What do I do now?" I said, “God, please help me!”
My prayers were answered with the generosity and kindness of strangers. A complete stranger came out of nowhere to my aid, took me home for the weekend and paid for a flight to my school. In a remarkable twist of irony, my Good Samaritan, Mr. Yador, was at the airport to meet his wife on my flight. After hours of waiting, he discovered his wife had missed the flight. In his disappointment, he had also noticed my anxiety and frustration and stopped to assist me on his way home.
That positive act of caring made me more determined to use my college education and pay this kindness forward. My parents had long instilled in me the importance of service and the responsibility to make a difference in the lives of others. In my homeland, the handicraft business, cottage industry, mapped economically deprived areas; an industry that needed exposure to achieve sustenance and a better life for those who rely on it for their livelihood. I saw a tremendous opportunity to use my education, corporate experience and love for handmade arts to make a profound change in the lives of others.That opportunity started the building blocks that led to the launch of African Heritage Collection in 1994. I could never have imagined where we would be today: working with scores of artisans who now have a platform to showcase their talent and provide a better quality of life for their families and their communities.
The desire to do more led me to join Rotary International. In the last several years, thanks to the support of local and International Rotary clubs, we completed two water projects, providing clean water to several thousands of people in the townships of Akropong and Dawu in the Eastern Region of Ghana. The work continues with other water and health project initiatives.
Simply put, I am honored, humbled and blessed to be a part of improving the quality of life of those who need it the most.
Julius Aboagye, Founder and Curator